The Crazypantsness of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can 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 mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong. (Barnes and Noble)

I can sum up my feelings about this book in three words:


Okay, let me back up.  The beginning of this book is SO good.  Mara Dyer (pseudonym like Carolyne Keene only more murdery) is our narrator and she tells you flat-out that she may have possibly or accidentally on purpose killed a few people.

Only three. Don’t get all judgey.

So this is an awesome start, right?  I was SO in.

Three months ago Mara awoke in a hospital to find that she’d been in a terrible accident.  An old building collapsed with Mara, her boyfriend Jude, her frenemy Claire, and her BFF Rachel trapped inside.  Mara is the only one who made it out alive. She has no memory of the incident, why she was in that building or how she got there in the middle of the night. All she knows is that her friends are dead.

I know, right? Still totally good.

Mara’s family moves to Miami to get away. They’re hoping to help Mara escape her old life and make a fresh start. All that seems to happen is that the nightmares that have plagued her since the accident somehow seem to spill over into her waking life.  She sees Claire. She sees Jude–and they don’t seem happy with her.  They appear out of nowhere, along with other hallucinations, making her feel totally cray cray.

Enter oh obvious one—the hot, accented guy with tousled hair and a strange interest in Mara. And of course she hates him. It’s like a requirement.  Noah (Oh Hot One) is just your basic manwhore. And every girl wants him except the one who intrigues him most.  So…witty banter, witty banter, accent, sexual tension, flirting, flirting,  hair tousling and voila! A relationship unfolds.  And I’m still okay with all of this. I even thought some of the moments with Noah and Mara were good.  The romance is a bit predictable, but I’m alright with this because Noah has a British accent. That gives him, despite his slight sleaziness, an in in my book (I’m so shallow). Also, as much as I wanted to dislike him, he had some sweet moments.

Here’s where things get weird.  Mara has some odd abilities (if you want to call them that). And the hallucinations and the nightmares are getting more intense as her memory of that awful night is slowly returning. And it’s not good.  Houston, we definitely have a problem.

My main gripe at this point was that I felt like I was always doing one of two things:

1. Reading a tension-filled romantic scene between Noah and Mara (they are aplenty) or…

2. Going W  T  H ??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, I dare you to read this book and not utter that phrase once. There are some great creepy scenes and some funny parts, but there is no real explanation for anything (other than psychosis or PTSD, when you know it isn’t that. How lame would that be?). On top of all that there is some really crazy business involving alligators.

Oh you read that right. Alligators.  And spiders.


At this point I was lost and I felt I’d been taken on too many twists.  At the same time I couldn’t put the book down because I was hoping it would all make sense in the end.

It didn’t.  In fact the end just made it worse. It was a WTF sundae with a You Gotta Be Kidding Me on top.  It wasn’t a cliffhanger.  It was a ginormous HUH????

And then it was over, story to be continued in book two. That, to me, is so manipulative. A book, even in a series, should be a complete story. Even if someone goes missing (Peeta!) or if an old flame shows up (I can’t say where I recently read this but OMG!) or something completely shocking happens. The basic story should go somewhere. This one goes nowhere but in circles.

So, were there good things here? Yes.

Was there some crazy stuff? Hells yes.

What was missing was the explanation or a key to link the story together.

Crush Intensity: For the first portion 4/5. For the  I think there are people who are going to LOVE this book. And then there are people like me. People for whom all the kissing and British accents in the world cannot make up for the ending and all of the unanswered questions.

For another opinion, check out this review from Makeshift Bookmark. She liked it (and I love her blog).

15 thoughts on “The Crazypantsness of Mara Dyer

  1. So I’ve been wanting to read this, but haven’t made any effort to yet. Then I read your review. I mean, besides the obvious “Oh, you have a British accent? We simply must hate each other but deep down love each other and eventually end up in a relationship.” that seems to be in the book, I don’t know if I can take another book that throws twists and turns and crazyness all to lead up to nothing! I’m like you. Books in a series should be final enough that they can be stand alone but have enough loose ends that the series can be built upon. Wow, is that a vague enough description?

    Stinks that this book isn’t as great as it could have been… hopefully I’ll check it out one day to find out for myself! 🙂

    • I really, really wanted to read this. I even asked my husband to buy it for me for Christmas (which he did). I think what was bad is that it started SO good. The ending really pissed me off though. You may like it, but I’d definitely borrow it before buying it. 🙂

  2. sounds like a good case of “let’s wait until all the books are out” — but i think i’ll skip it until i read your review of the next book 🙂
    such a shame, loved the cover!

  3. Hmmm. This book definitely sounds crazypants. i kinda wanted to read it but now i just don’t know. i mean, i’m all for hot dudes with British accents. And the first half of your review with all the amnesia and mystery and hallucinations sounds really awesome but, uh, i’m kinda lost as to how alligators fit into the story.
    Plus i really hate when things don’t get explained properly in books. i don’t like reading a book and having something completely crazy and out of left field happen and think that i must have skipped a page or something because i don’t understand what the eff is going on.
    i might give this book a try when it comes out in paperback. Or maybe i’ll just borrow it from the library.

    • You never know, you might like it. I just really, REALLY hate WTF endings and,like you, stuff that is never thoroughly explained. After I read it, I searched online to see what other people thought and it seemed that people had really strong reactions. It was either total love or utter hatred. I’d say if you read it, definitely get it from the library. 🙂

  4. OK, see I loved a lot of it, because it takes place in Miami, and I’m a Miami-bred girl. It was so authentic, with the Calle Ocho and Santeria references. Parts were incredibly derivative and predictable (but so much of YA is), but when the boy reveals his, well, otherness, I too was like, WHAAA?

  5. I’ve been wanting to read this book lately and i’m sad to hear that the book is only great at the beginning 😦

    Great review though!

  6. Hi ladies,

    This is totally random and not connected to this post BUT I just read “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks” for the first time on your say so and I LOVE it!!! Just had to pop by and say thanks 🙂

    You guys have wonderful taste in heroines!!


  7. “It was a WTF sundae with a You Gotta Be Kidding Me on top”

    That is an awesomesauce sentence.

    Ugh, I can’t believe the ending is a cliffhanger, I totally agree, even in a series each book should tell a complete story. I hate the whole trend for things “to be continued…” SO annoying!

  8. I mean how could I NOT read this post based on that title alone?! Heee. I’ve read Jen’s review of it but I’ve heard so much overwhelming criticism of this book I can’t bring myself to read it. No alligators for me, thankyouverymuch.

    • I really don’t want to sound mean, but I don;t think I’d ever pick up the sequel(s) unless someone I really trust says I should. It was THAT INSANE. I think it felt worse too because it started out so good. Like if it had been bad from the first pages it wouldn’t have felt like such a loss.

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