The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Review)

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Published: September 2011
Genre(s): YA, fantasy, romance 

Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong. (www.goodreads.com)


 I (mostly) loved this book! There's just Something About Mara...

I have read my fair share of YA, and I found Michelle Hodkin's characters to be the most empathetic and lovable. To be fair, there's a certain Dawson's Creek-esque element of witty repartee that, while funny and enjoyable, almost reads like how we WISHED we talked in high school, rather than the more realistic giggling at sexual innuendos and coming up with good insult comebacks 2 days later (which was my gen-X experience...). Maybe teens are more sophisticated these days? Either way, Hodkin makes the banter relatable to those not of the millennial generation.

I found the premise intriguing, and loved the different take on "waking up with amnesia" trope. Where I found it a bit disjointed, was with the relationship with Noah, and her - at times - unquestioning trust in him (especially during a certain scene involving her missing brother). It's clear that Mara is having trouble distinguishing between reality and hallucinations, but that particular scenario was a bit awkward for me.

I loved the chilling reference to Nabokov's Lolita, and was curious to read the actual quote (I compare the 2 below). And while it was interesting that both teens were well-versed in the classic, it did not make me want to run out and get acquainted with the taboo story. And it's never really explained why Mara has such a well-read copy... Is this the new version of eating a tablespoon of cinnamon for teens? Do you know that kids have DIED reading Lolita?!

OTHERWISE, I'm chomping at the bit to read #2 (The Evolution of Mara Dyer) and would definitely recommend this to my YA-fantasy-loving cohorts!

 ~ Spinning Jenny


"You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, in order to discern, at once, the little deadly demon among the wholesome children," he said, his British accent melting around the words, his voice smooth and low. "She stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power." Noah (misquoting Lolita), p.59

Actual quote:
“You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot poison in your loins and a super-voluptuous flame permanently aglow in your subtle spine (oh, how you have to cringe and hide!), in order to discern at once, by ineffable signs―the slightly feline outline of a cheekbone, the slenderness of downy limbs, and other indices which despair and shame and tears of tenderness forbid me to tabulate―the little deadly demon among the wholesome children; she stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power.”
Vladimir Nabakov, Lolita

"I stifled a yawn. 'It's too early to be such an asshat, Daniel.'" Mara (p.23)



  1. Your review has really peaked my interest in this book. I love the cover, so that drew me in originally. I guess I will have to get this. Thanks for reviewing!

    1. People have been raving about the whole trilogy, so I'm trying not to get ahead of myself!! Will be interested to see what you think!