The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The basics

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer


Series: Mara Dyer #1

- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (September 2011)
- The Evolution of Mara Dyer (October 2012)
- The Retribution of Mara Dyer (November 2014)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Read a full summary of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

In short

Mara Dyer and her family move to Florida after her friends die trying to freak into an asylum. There, Mara meets Noah Shaw. She also keeps hallucinating that she sees Jude, her old boyfriend who died in the asylum, and death keeps happening to people who are terrible to her. Turns out Mara can (maybe) murder people with her mind, although we don’t know for sure because this book is a giant mind fuck and who even knows what is real. Oh, and Noah, who Mara falls in love with, turns out to be able to heal people with his mind. And then some girl gets murdered and Mara’s dad has to defend the murderer in trial and her little brother gets kidnapped by the murderer and Mara kills alligators and the murderer gets released from jail and Mara is insane and her dad gets shot and Jude is alive and WHAT EVEN. Okay, so I can’t really capture this book in a short summary. Please read my real summary below to find out what actually happened.

What happened in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer?

  • The story starts with a note from “Mara Dyer”, claiming that this is not her real name, but that her lawyer told her to choose a nickname. We learned that Mara is blamed for some murders.
  • Mara is at her best friend Rachel’s birthday party, where Rachel, her new friend Claire (whom Mara hates) and Mara are playing with an Ouija board. That never ends well. Rachel asks how she will die and the board spells “murder” and “Mara”. Oops.
  • Six months later, Mara wakes up in a hospital bed, where her parents tell her she’s been in an accident. Apparently, she was in an old building (an asylum) that collapsed, and killed Rachel, Claire and Claire’s brother Jude.
  • Mara and her family (she has an older brother, Daniel, and a younger brother, Joseph) move to Florida to get away.
  • At her new school, Mara meets bad boy Noah Shaw, mean girl Anna, and Jamie, who is awesome. Her first class, she hallucinates and falls, causing her nose to bleed. When she goes to clean up, she doesn’t see herself in the mirror, but Claire. Later that morning, she hears Jude’s laugh and sees him as well. This is getting creepy.
  • A news report on TV shows that the bodies of Rachel and Claire had been recovered, but that they were unable to find Jude. Only the news report isn’t real but another hallucination, because some other girl, Jordana Palmer, is missing instead.
  • The next day in class, Noah and Mara fall in insta-love/hate/UST.
  • In a flashback, Jude and Mara get ready to go to the asylum.
  • Mara finds an abused dog and wants to save her, but the owner nearly beats her up over it. Mara thinks about what it would be like if he would die. Then, when she goes back after school, she finds out that the man has died exactly the way she imaged it. Dun dun dun.
  • The police find Mara and ask her some questions, after which she overhears that they’re going to kill the dog. So naturally, she sneaks in and steals it before they notice. Then she runs into Noah again, and he takes her to take the dog to the vet (who happens to be his mom). They name the dog Mabel.
  • Another flashback shows Mara and Jude arriving at the asylum. It also shows that Mara and Jude are in some sort of relationship and that Mara doesn’t want to kiss him, but he doesn’t take rejection very well. He’s just getting lovelier. They get in through the basement. Apparently Mara only went along with it to win Rachel back.
  • Noah asks Mara out but she refuses, but then he nearly kisses her. Also, they find out that Jordana, the missing girl, has been murdered, apparently eaten by alligators.
  • When Daniel and Mara get home, they find out that their dad is defending Jordana’s murderer, Leon Lassiter, in trial. Later, they get ready to go to a party together, but Mara sees Claire in the mirror again. Mara wears her grandma’s earrings to the party. (This is important.)
  • Mara leaves the party almost immediately after arriving, but when she comes home, the entire hallway is different. The doors and pictures are on the other side of the wall. WTF. When she looks again later, everything is back to normal. When she gets to her room, a box of stuff is in the middle, with a picture of Rachel.
  • She wants to take a bath, but doesn’t remember turning off the faucet, and when she gets back the bath is overflowing. Her earrings are at the bottom of the tub. When she tries to get them, she burns her arm. Double WTF. Later, she finds out that her earrings have been in her ears the entire time.
  • Obviously, Mara’s mom is making her see a psychiatrist. Later at school, Anna steals her sketchbook which has a drawing of Noah, and Noah gets it back for her. In return, he makes her go out on a date with him.
  • Fun time again when Mara thinks to see maggots in her food and then Jude behind her.
  • Noah picks Mara up for their date. They go to his ginormous mansion of a house. It turns out the dog, Mabel, is now scared of Mara. Noah then tells her the story of how his real mother was stabbed at a protest and he was there with her.
  • They go out for dinner, and Mara sees Jude again. They then go to a gallery, and Mara gets another flashback, where they enter the asylum and Jude thinks that’s a perfect place to make out. Real life Mara faints and it turns out Noah already knew what happened to her because he asked Daniel.
  • Noah and Mara go to school together, acting like a couple and everyone hates Mara for it.
  • It’s time for exams and Mara kicks ass in her cruel Spanish teacher’s class and talks back to her, for which the teacher sends her out of the room. Jamie records Mara’s perfect Spanish though, in case the teacher wants to punish her.
  • Jamie tells Mara about how Noah used Jamie’s sister because Jamie went out with Noah’s sister. Then, Jamie sticks up for Mara to mean girl Anna and her pet Aiden, and they get Jamie expelled. Noah beats up Aiden.
  • Mara goes to the doctor to get her burned arm (which was in a cast) checked out and it turns out it has completely healed.
  • Mara gets an F in Spanish and wishes she would choke on her own tongue. Then, when Mara gets to the Spanish classroom, it turns out that that is exactly what happened.
  • We find out Mara is supposed to be taking pills but she hasn’t.
  • Are you ready for shit to hit the fan? Joseph is supposed to be at a friend’s house but then Noah shows up at Mara’s house saying he isn’t there and that they need to go find him. Apparently someone took him. They go to the everglades, a swamp where there’s alligators. Lovely.
  • They cross the swamp and alligators try to attack them but apparently Mara fights them off with her mind. (She wishes them away, and later, we find out that they died as well.) They arrive at a couple of sheds and find Joseph in one of them, tied up. They take him and run. Nobody remembers after it happened, so it has probably been another hallucination.
  • In another flashback, Jude wants to have his way with Mara in the asylum but she doesn’t. He tries to rape her and she wishes him dead and… we know how that ends.
  • Mara decides she needs to remember what exactly happened, and Noah takes her to a hypnotist/some kind of priest. The priest acts very rude to Mara and obviously wants her to go away. Clearly, he knows more about what’s happening to her. Noah pays him and the priest then gives Mara some weird drink to help her remember.
  • Mara wakes up in Noah’s bed because apparently she passed out. Then they make out, but while they’re going at it, Noah’s lips turn blue and he is dying. Mara realizes that she is the one who killed all these people and for a second, she has killed Noah too, but then he wakes up and nothing happened and what the fuck. According to Noah, they didn’t kiss but just fell asleep together.
  • Mara tells Noah everything that has been happening to her, and Noah tells her that he heard her before they met (in his vision, Mara said “get them out”). He explains that he has seen two others before and that they both died because he didn’t get to them in time. He also saw someone with a Rolex take Joseph, but they saved him in time. So the hallucination was real after all. Noah says that he thinks he can heal people, that he healed Mara’s arm, and that he can hear everyone’s physical reactions.
  • The next day, Noah and Mara try to go back to the priest, but his house has disappeared, because nothing makes sense in this damn book.
  • Noah takes Mara to the zoo to kill some insects, but Mara doesn’t want to kill anything and Noah forces her and she feels threatened, so naturally, she kills everything in the shed.

How did The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer end?

Noah takes Mara out of school because something is happening to her father’s case. Pictures show that Jordana was murdered near the sheds where they found Joseph. Also, Leon Lassiter, her father’s client, was seen wearing a Rolex, which means he took Joseph. Mara’s father was trying to drop the case to spare Mara, which made the Lassiter kidnap Joseph.

Lassiter is about to get out of jail, so they rush to the courthouse, but it turns out they’re too late and he’s already gone. Mara decides she wants to kill him for hurting her family. When she sees Lassiter, she is at the verge of mentally shooting him when Jordana Palmer’s mother shoots at the Lassiter. Only she doesn’t hit him, but Mara’s father.

Mara’s dad is in the hospital and Mara decides she has to turn herself in, that she has to be punished for murdering all those people. But when she arrives at the police station, she doesn’t get to talk to a police offers because JUDE SHOWS UP AND HE IS ALIVE AND REAL AND OH MY GOD WHAT EVEN.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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  • Thanks so much for doing this, I read this so long ago I can’t remember anything, the wait for the 3rd book has been very long.

  • Is this just the summary for the first book? Is been so long since I read it, and I’m trying to figure out if I actually read the second one!

    (also this post was really helpful, so thanks xx)

  • Why do I remember absolutely nothing about the alligators?? Did I block them out? I swear I don’t remember it being this complicated the first time round, so this was helpful, thanks!

  • Tabby says:

    Thanks! Saved me hours again!

  • Evelyn says:

    thank you so much for this! i just got the second book, but since i read the first almost two years ago i couldn’t remember anything. it was amazing to find this blog

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