Book review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

by courtvanhaaren

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

3.7 out of 5


In the wake of a terrible accident, Mara and her family uproot themselves from their hometown to move to Florida in the hopes to alleviate the mental stress Mara is facing. Unable to cope with the reality of the deaths of her best friend, boyfriend and his sister, Mara begins to hallucinate their likeliness and the events leading to their accident.

These hallucinations plague Mara constantly, but become more real when they extend beyond the deaths from her past, causing real consequences. What is real and what is a delusion becomes the main question in her life.

Add mysterious Noah Shaw into the mix and Mara’s reality is turned upside down.


As far as the general story goes, I did enjoy it. A different take of paranormal and supernatural stances.

The Good-

Considering the trauma that Mara is enduring, I really thoroughly enjoyed the support she was able to find within her family and Noah. The fact that the entire family was willing to move suddenly to help heal one person in their family truly shows the love that exists between all of them.

It did get frustrating to see the strain between Mara’s mother and her, but it is understandable. On both a mother/daughter front and a therapist/patient front, their relationship was bound to be strained throughout the novel, which is expected and understood. I find it a bit disheartening after finishing the novel that they were unable to truly have a connecting moment where Mara sought her out, but I suppose that is coming in later novels.

The emotional trauma that Mara was experiencing was executed very well. It had believable reactions and stress that a normal person would experience following the circumstances of the night.

As far as the romance between Mara and Noah, it was pretty typical for a teen romance, but I still enjoyed it.

The Bad-

Some of the writing threw me off. I felt like the story had so much potential, but lacked in some of its delivery due to mixed writing techniques and confusing transitions.

As far as writing techniques, the writing style changes from very short and choppy sentences to lengthy descriptive paragraphs, which isn’t necessarily bad, but the consistency made it hard to understand from Mara’s POV. The short sentences I would definitely understand coming from the MC, but some of the sentences seem misplaced.

Transitions. Oh man, those transitions were either executed flawlessly or terribly. There is no in between. This mainly applies to the transitions between reality and hallucinating; some of the hallucinations were wonderfully weaved into the story, whereas some of the hallucinations seemed like they were just slapped in the middle of a developing paragraph. It can get very confusing at times if you aren’t following the story closely.

Finally, the plot. The plot is another aspect of the novel that had so much potential but it just fell flat in some areas. I felt as if the plot was progressing well  in the eyes of a mentally unstable teenager. It was gripping and I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find more. Towards the end of the novel, this doesn’t become the case.


Near the end of the novel there is a revelation that both Mara and Noah have supernatural abilities beyond both of their comprehensions. Noah explains his previous encounters with his abilities, but I find it a little unrealistic that Mara had no previous incidents before her accident. There wasn’t anyone that she wished ill upon before? I do acknowledge this adds to the original premise of PTSD and psychosis, but something to think about, or something that will hopefully be followed up on.

Now, the end of the novel is, in light terms, a complete  clusterf-k. There are so many different twists being thrown out that don’t really connect or make sense to the overall story. I really hope they somehow intertwine in the later novels, but it was just a headache to read.