My feelings for this book are very confused! But look at that cover. It's actually my favourite cover of the year. Beeeeautiful! But to start this review I'm going to be honest and throw the bad out in the open.
WHAT REALLY BOTHERED ME
The ending. After 452 pages there was no real conclusion...basically nothing substantial about Mara was discovered. Other than something that was blatantly obvious throughout the book, but no hows, whys or whats. It was disappointing. I'm sure all with be revealed in the next book, but I really felt a little more should have been covered in this one. All series books have cliffhangers, but this wasn't even really used as the cliffhanger - something else that was interesting and completely unexpected was, but that's beside the point. I would have liked a little more clarity.
Now despite that big issue, I did enjoy the book. I absolutely loved the quick witted and often humorous banter between Mara and Noah. This book was full of really funny quotes:
“What could I say? Noah, despite you being an asshole, or maybe because of it, I'd like to rip off your clothes and have your babies.”
“You're distracting,' I said truthfully. 'I won't be. I promise,' Noah said. 'I'll get some crayons and draw quitely. Alone. In a corner.”
And there were tons more, but I don't want to spam this review with quotes I loved from this book, because that would probably get a little too excessive. Noah wasn't exactly a stud for me at "first sight", but he definitely grew on me. Some girls may call him a little inappropriate at times, but I'm horribly inappropriate myself about 98% of the time, so that doesn't bother me much. I thought he was funny! And I love funny!
Mara Dyer goes through some genuinely frightening situations. There were times where I felt thoroughly creeped out and was a little nervous to be alone reading by the light of my little lone lamp. Hodkin's is definitely a wonderful writer and good at setting a mood.
Overall, I liked this, but the fact that basically nothing was solved AT ALL throughout the book is going to have to downgrade my rating. I almost wanted to give it a 3, but ended up going with 4. The other parts of the story made up for it.
I loved the characters and the banter between them.
Warning: Rants, ramblings, a unfavorable review, and some very light spoilers up ahead written by a frustrated, and very disappointed blogger. Read if you’d like. Comments will be read and are welcomed, but any particularly mean or possible argument-starting comments will be deleted. You have been warned.
Oh, Mara Dyer. You win, you win. The publisher’s summary was just amazing. The cover? Drop dead gorgeous. Mara, you left me pinning, literally begging, and, later on, you tricked me into buying you. Shoot me, but I judge books by their covers. It’s a bad habit, I know. And, if I hadn’t already learned my lesson, Mara? You’ve taught me that for sure. Because you left me oh so disappointed in you, Mara. You win. You’re officially one of my biggest bookish disappointments this year. You win.
Where to begin? Shall we start with the plot? The romance? The characters? The un-necessary things that somehow made their way into this edited, published copy? The writing? The alligators? I’ll start with the plot. And the alligators. The rest will follow.
I get it. There are some books with plots that are character-driven. There are some books based on the romance, with a sub-plot hovering on the side. There are some books containing a few smaller, somehow related sub-plots that then tie together at the end. There are some mystery plots that span over several books, with the solution/thief/person responsible/etc revealed at the very, very end. But if you’re going to write a book like that, you have to make it work. With Mara Dyer, I wasn’t even sure of which category this belongs to. Let me explain. I’m going to have to break this down into smaller, separate paragraphs, so bare with me.
First, we have the romance. We have a guy-meets-girl story. Mara’s a new girl at a new school, and she meets Noah Shaw, the boy every girl wants, the boy who sleeps around, but the boy who no one can keep. But (surprise!) Noah likes her. Really, really likes her. As in I’ll-believe-anything-you-say likes her. As in I’ll-tell-the-world-that-you’re-my-girlfriend-although-I’ve-never-told-anyone-else likes her. And Mara? She all but throws herself at him. After she meets him, we literally read about nothing else but their relationship. Oh, and the alligators. But they’re still together in that scene. I think a better word for their relationship would be: obsessed. They’re definitely obsessed and infatuated with each other to a point in which it’s embarrassing to read about – even for the reader. But Mara? She isn’t embarrassed at all.
Then there’s that delicious murder story we were promised in the publisher’s summary. Mara, oh Mara. You’ve definitely fooled me here. The prologue was pure awesomeness. It gave me the chills, and was just… wow. Eerie, creepy, mysterious. I kept reading faster and faster. You sucked me right into the story, Mara. I thought this was going to be amazing. Chapter one was great, too. Until… Mara met Noah. That’s right. Because, from there, all that eerie, creepy, and mysterious stuff that was built up before? It all but dissolved. Faded away. Instead, we were left with a high-school romance story. Sure it popped up a few times later on. But it wasn’t as strong anymore. I thought this was supposed to be a eerie book. A horror book. A thriller. Congratulations, Mara. You definitely had me fooled right there.
Then there’s the smaller scenes. There’s that high-profile criminal case that her father was apparently working on, the random dog rescue scenes, flashbacks, a seminar, and that one alligator scene. The high-profile criminal case seemed to have been written there only as an excuse for Mara to move. After she moves, the case all but disappears. And, don’t get me wrong. I hate seeing those poor, thin, homeless animals out on the streets or being abused, too. But the random dog rescue scenes in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer? It seemed so irrelevant to the plot. It was just another thing to dilute the already weak mystery. The flashbacks, I know, were put there to add suspense and to build-up on that mystery surrounding Mara’s friends’ deaths. But… they didn’t seem to do anything. They didn’t drive the plot forward. Granted, it didn’t slow the plot down, either. The flashbacks were just… there. Then, of course, we have the alligators. In a way, it kind of amused me that the author put a scene like this in her story. Like the dog scene and the flashbacks, it didn’t seem to serve any purpose to the story.
The publisher summed up the story in six sentences. I summed it up in three long paragraphs. That alone should tell you something: it’s misleading. That wonderfully compelling story is misleading. Mara, oh Mara, you’ve managed to fool us again.
And Mara, it wasn’t just the characters that made me disagree with this book, was it? Let’s talk about Mara and Noah Shaw. And their relationship.
Okay, maybe I’m a little biased when it comes to Noah. He has a British accent. I’m part British, and I have a British accent, too. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t see what’s so fascinating about accents. I don’t see what’s so sexy about a I-just-rolled-out-of-bed look, or a playboy guy whom you can’t tell half the time if he’s joking or not. And, again, this might be just me, but I like characters with flaws. Noah’s ‘flaw’ is that he smokes. Anything else? Nope, not that I can see. He speaks many different languages, has a huge house, is rich (at one point in the story, I do recall him casually pulling about $5000 dollars from his wallet), is pinned for by all girls, composes music, and he gets perfect grades without even studying. Oh, and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer? Twilight called. They want Edward Cullen/Noah Shaw back.
Of course, Mara’s infatuated with him. She just about forgets everything else in her life and flings herself at him. Drawing perfect pictures of him in class? Thinking about him 24/7? Dropping everything in her life to pine for him? And when Noah’s the same (minus the drawing – see my rant on their relationship at the beginning of my review for more)? Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t a romance. This is an obsession.
Of course, this also means she hangs on to every word he says. So when he says creepy things about him owning her, she doesn’t find it creepy. And when she goes to some Santeria priest and has a wrong drink and blanks out? She wakes up in Noah’s bed. Naked. With no memory of what had happened between then and now. But, of course, she doesn’t run away. Instead, she makes out with him. He could’ve lied. He could’ve messed with her when she wasn’t thinking right. He could’ve done something to her – anything. But she doesn’t think about that possibility. No, she makes out with him. Well, at least she has some sense as she puts on some clothes – his clothes – first.
Mara, you sounded amazing. But upon reading, I discovered a tangled web of multiple confusing, different plots, a messed up obsession between two characters, and alligators. All I wanted was a thrilling mystery. I think it’s safe to say that I was very, very disappointed.
Will I recommend this to anyone? I don’t think I can. Sorry, Mara. I just couldn’t enjoy you enough. However, go check on Goodreads. There’s plenty of five/four star, raving reviews on there to change your mind and coax you into taking a peek at The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Meanwhile, I’ll be off. There’s a certain vampire-boy that doesn’t belong in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. I’m off to take him back to Forks.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (A Room with Books review)
Holy. Wow. I want to know why someone didn’t force me to read this sooner, because I was most certainly, without question, missing out. This book has it all: mystery, romance, thrill (I’m not sure if that works, but I’m using it), just a dash of paranormal, and, of course, Noah Shaw.
First, I’m a sucker for mystery and psychological thrillers and The Unbecoming had plenty to offer me in those departments. Even though I thought I knew what was real most of the time, I was never completely sure. When dealing with psychological thrillers, one can often get confused and that’s definitely the case here, but I was never annoyed by my confusion. It totally worked for my enjoyment of the story.
If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t really read a lot of paranormal. As I mentioned before, The Unbecoming has just a dash of paranormal and it’s totally perfect. So if you’re afraid of paranormal, you should definitely still give this one a chance.
I suppose you want to hear about Shaw now. Well, let’s just say he’s pretty freaking amazing. He’s sexy and, well, he has an accent. Who can resist a boy with an accent? He’s also just the slightest bit jerk-like, but it gets balanced out by his sweetness most of the time. If nothing else, you definitely want to read this for him.
Ever since The Unbecoming came out, I’ve been hearing about its WTF quality. I had no idea what people could possibly mean by that until I read it, and let me tell you, it’s most certainly a good thing.
Final Thoughts: This book seriously has it all. I was never bored and for the last 50-100 pages or so, I was basically glued to the pages. Oh, and the ending. Seriously, what the crap?!? When I reached the last page, I was actually talking to the book going “No. No way. It can’t be over. I can’t believe that just happened.” Basically, there’s no possible way to be eloquent about this book which should make you want to read it all the more.
If this book were a movie (the kind you pay full price to see and after doing so are only able to mumble something mildly coherent like, "You just HAVE to see it for your self."), much of my viewing time would've been spent with my hands over my face to hide from the creepy parts (while peaking out through my fingers so as not to miss anything), a hand over my heart to keep it from literally beating out of chest during the intensely romantic parts (the other would be fanning my face) and a hand over my mouth to hide my shock at the ending. (Btw, if this were a movie with a soundtrack, Coldplay's, "Fix You" would be on it.)
This is a MUST read! Just to clarify...when I say it's "creepy", I mean creepy in the best sense of the word, not like evil "creepy" but "creepy" cool, keeping up here? OK, good.
The key players in this book are Mara Dyer and her family which consists of Psychologist Mom, Lawyer Dad, and two of the best brothers a girl could ask for, Daniel is the oldest (I wish Daniel was real & I wish he was my big brother) and Joseph is the youngest. Mara's friends are Rachel (her longtime BFF), Claire (more Rachel's friend & not so much a fan of Mara's), Jude (Claire's brother & Mara's crush), Jaime (he's a good friend to her) and Noah (Yum).
The story begins in Rhode Island where there's been an accident involving Mara, Rachel, Claire and Jude, and she's the sole survivor. Everyone is looking to Mara for answers but she can't give them any because she has no memory of any of it. Another bizarre thing? She's come through the accident without any injuries. In the days and weeks that follow, she tries to recall details about what happened but has no real luck until the nightmares begin and strange things start to happen during the daytime that leave her struggling to decipher between reality and imagination. (Enter the creep factor)
In an effort to help her, the family decides to make a clean break to Florida where she and Daniel start at a new private school, and her father takes over on a high profile murder case. At her new school she hopes to makes a fresh start and leave her past behind her but something won't let that happen. Instead, she meets Jaime, a boy genius who has a penchant for retaliation that involves bio-hazard material of epic proportions, she catches the eye of Noah, the school's #1 hot guy who comes with a rep for being a notorious womanizer, garners the unwanted attention of Anna (Mean Girl extraordinaire) and Ms. Morales aka the Spanish teacher from hell...all on the first day.
Things escalate when the "strange" turns to "creepy" and Mara watches as her world begins to spiral out of control. She knows she's reaching the breaking point not only within herself but with her family as well and she desperately searches for answers only to find help in the most unlikely places, like Noah. On the outside, he's cocky and pretentious but behind that gorgeous, British exterior of his, he's not so bad and he comes to Mara's rescue more than once. (Need to retrieve a Sketchbook anyone?) As she gets to know him more, she sees that, like her, his reputation may not really proceed him and he too is hiding a few secrets. But what they discover about themselves and each other has the potential to change everything, forever.
As Mara begins to face life as she now knows it to be, she realizes the choices others have may not be the same for her. She'll have to decide if protecting those she loves means giving up what she wants the most. Will she choose right? Just when Mara thinks she's make up her mind, once again her world flips upside down leaving both she and the reader gasping.
While I'm partially relieved that this is the "end of volume" because I would most likely have had a heart attack if this was really the end of the story, I want to know NOW what happens! NOW! NOW! NOW! I tell you! :)
As soon as I started it, I sat on my butt for almost four hours straight until the prospect of a blood clot rushing to my heart due to inactivity prompted me to get up. But I was obsessed! All I could think about was Mara's story! The characters are really strong in this book. There is some vulgar language, but really only enough to create a personality. It didn't feel overdone like some other books I've read...or tried to read. Mara is willful. Her emotional strength gets her through the story and although she starts out relying only on herself, Mara learns to ask for help when really needed.
Descriptions of Mara's "episodes" were done in very vivid detail. It was easy to connect to Mara's desperation even though I am not psychotic...or at least I don't think I am. But Mara's way of responding to outside stimuli was realistic. She pushed the thoughts away taking into account that she did have a problem that she needed to deal with. Nothing was overdone or understated. The balance between Mara's conflicting emotions and interactions with the other characters was wonderfully written.
Noah is also a very strong character. He is snark-y, slightly arrogant and distanced until later in the novel. He is very similar to Mara in ways of personality and it shows how they connect in that sense. But at the same time, Noah reveals insecurities that may be more emotionally traumatic than Mara's circumstances. This juxtaposition really shows Mara's ability to overcome, but is still down-to-earth.
The story has some surprising plot turns and I ended up figuring things out along with Mara. I am so amped to read the sequel. The cliff-hanger was devastating to me as a reader. I can't get enough of these characters, but especially the story. A must read.
*originally posted on my book review blog.
Strong, well-developed characters.
Riveting story line.
Super cool super powers.
I am sooo glad that I signed up for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. Why? Because 'The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer' is a 2012 debut (at least in the UK) and, while I may have read it sooner or later even if it wasn't a debut, the fact that it was just meant it was sooner. Sooner, rather than later, that I read this AMAZING book, which I completely LOVE!
Nightmares, memories and hallucinations merge unsettlingly with reality, creating a darkly tense, mysterious story. I actually found myself to be quite spooked at some points in the book, with characters involving themselves in Ouja boards and old abandoned lunatic asylums; I know, that makes it sound like a classic, clichè horror story but it's not!
I think the main feature of this story is all the mystery. Right at the very beginning, before the story even starts, we are told "My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something." So from the very outset, we are already filled with questions, the biggest one being, 'Who is Mara Dyer???' This question is the foundation of the book, which builds up around it and, bit by bit, gives us fragments of insight into the protagonist's life in order for us to be able to start piecing together the answer. By the end of the book, we do have some answers, but the whole picture still eludes us, leaving us hanging and anticipating the sequel. And the end will leave you inwardly screaming for the next book.
I have already recommended, and passed on, The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer to one of my friends and I'm recommending it to all of you too!
I wasn't sure about this book for the longest time. I would always look at it but something would end up preventing me from buying it. I eventually gave in and I absolutely loved it. This is one of those novels that just got into my head and seriously messed with me. Even at the time of writing this review (2 days after I finished the book) I can't stop thinking about it. The twists were intense, the subject was dark at times and it was creepy.
I don't know about anything else but I love books where the main character can't remember what happens and they believe that they're crazy. There's just something about seeing things through their twisted perspective that just makes the story creepier than if it was being told through someone else.
I loved Mara. Slipping into her head during her descent into madness was absolutely thrilling. Just like Mara, I had trouble telling what was real or a delusion until she figured it out herself and that just made the story because I was constantly left wondering if an event really happened or not. Then thee is Noah Shaw. That boy is just completely swoon worthy. He seems like the typical arrogant bad boy but there is so much more to him. He's actually a pretty deep and caring character. I absolutely did not see the twist with him coming in the story either.
If you haven't read this book yet all I have to say is go get a copy. This is one book that even after you turned the last page it will keep you up at night wondering just what exactly is going on. I will be reading the next book in this series as soon as I have a chance and I am absolutely looking forward to it.