Cover image for The becoming of Noah Shaw
The becoming of Noah Shaw

1st ed.
Physical Description:
365 pages ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
HL 680 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
After the murder of his father, Noah Shaw uses his inheritance to move to New York with his girlfriend Mara Dyer and their friends, where they investigate the suicides of other Carriers and their Gifts begin to lead them on diverging paths.


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In the first book of the Shaw Confessions, the companion series to the New York Times bestselling Mara Dyer novels, old skeletons are laid bare and new promises prove deadly. This is what happens after happily ever after.

Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Noah Shaw has the world on a string.

They're wrong.

Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future.

He shouldn't.

And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.

They're right.

Author Notes

Michelle Hodkin is an American YA author. She grew up in South Florida, went to college in New York, and attended law school in Michigan.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was her first novel, and the initial book in The Mara Dyer Trilogy. The subsequent volumes in the series are; The Evolution of Mara Dyer and The Retribution of Mara Dyer.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-In this companion novel to Hodkin's "Mara Dyer" trilogy, the story picks up not long after the series end, with the point of view shifting from Mara's to Noah's. The novel opens with a funeral; upon the death of his father, Noah inherits the considerable Shaw estate. Unsure what to do with his newfound wealth and power, Noah packs up Mara and his buddies and goes to New York City. The teen's immersive visions of young people dying makes him conclude that a malevolent force is forcing teens with special abilities to commit suicide. Noah and his gang set out to find who is responsible. Without having read the previous books, this companion novel will not make much sense. How did these teens with superpowers get together? What are the dynamics among them? Perhaps because the narrative does not stand on its own, it is hard to develop an affinity for the characters. It is hard to distinguish between Noah and the other young men in the story. All of them come across as arrogant and profane (One sex scene takes place while a funeral is underway). Mara is portrayed as little more than a sex object. Noah's constant references to luxury brands and places such as the Gansevoort Hotels, the DUMBO tower, and Caol Ila whiskey wear thin. Drug use, underage drinking, and sex are mainstays in this novel. VERDICT Consider for purchase where the "Mara Dyer" trilogy is popular.-Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Noah and Mara are ready to start their lives together, but when Noah begins sensing the violent deaths of other teens with gifts, the pair is pulled back into danger. This first novel in the Mara Dyer spinoff series is propelled by interpersonal conflict rather than high-stakes action, but fans of the original trilogy will enjoy catching up with its characters--and learning their shocking secrets. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

This first in a sequel series to the Mara Dyer trilogy brings Mara's beloved Noah to the fore."Gifted." "Afflicted." "Carrier." Depending on one's point of view, Noah Shaw could be any one of these. The white English 17-year-old possesses a gene that, when triggered, manifests as an extrasensory "gift" in the gene's carrier: Noah can heal injuries and experience the pain of others like him as they die. After the death of his estranged father, Noah uses his sizable inheritance to relocate with Indian-American Mara and their friends to New York. After Noah witnesses several Carrier suicides, he and Mara, along with her brother Daniel and their two bisexual friendsJewish, black Jamie and blond, white Goosejoin resources with others like them who might be able to help uncover the reason for the suicides. As secrets unfold, Noah's trust in Mara, who can wish people dead, begins to unravel. Noah, who narrates the story, is apparently supposed to be sardonically witty, but he merely comes off as dull and dry. The book opens with a sarcastic "Caveat Emptor" listing its flashpoint elements and telling readers, "If you need a trigger warning for that, you're reading the wrong book." Recounting of events of the previous series unfolds at an excruciatingly tedious pace over the course of the book, so those who haven't read that trilogy will feel utterly lost most of the way through. Fans of the Mara Dyer series will likely look forward to Noah's next adventure; others need not apply. (Suspense. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Noah and Mara's story picks up right where we left them at the end of Hodkin's Mara Dyer trilogy but this time, we get to hear Noah Shaw's side of the story. After Noah's father's funeral, Noah and Mara move back to New York, where those with gifts are mysteriously disappearing. To get to the bottom of the disappearances, Noah must dive into the research that his father conducted. Soon the research begins to reveal secrets that both he and Mara want to keep hidden, secrets that might force them apart. Fans of Hodkin's Mara Dyer series won't be disappointed by this first book in the Shaw Confessions trilogy, one that gives them more insight into Noah's mind. Much of the book relies on the momentum and characterization from the original trilogy, but by the end of the novel, it begins to evolve into something new and sets the stage for the books to follow. Hodkin continues to effectively build upon the dark, creepy world of Mara Dyer.--Shepard, Amanda Copyright 2017 Booklist



The Becoming of Noah Shaw 1 CONQUER OR DIE WE ARE A TEARLESS, TINY crowd, we survivors of David Shaw. Imagine it: five of us gathered like a wilting bouquet, my grandmother the lone thistle standing. Next to her, my grandfather softly droops under the grand dome above us, painted by some hideously famous artist centuries ago. This is quite literally our ancestral home, built in the fifteen hundreds by Henry the Somethingth. Grandfather, a.k.a. Lord Elliot II, was once a strapping, reed-backed but jolly Englishman's Englishman. Hunter of pheasants, of foxes, but not of fortune--that he inherited from his father, who inherited it from his father, and on it goes. Now, however, he sags beside my grandmother, half of his face twisted into a permanent grimace after a stroke two years ago. I tried to heal him when that was a thing I realised I could do. It didn't work. I still don't know why. His light blue eyes are clouded over and staring at nothingness as he leans on his cane, his hand trembling. My grandmother can't quite disguise her pleasure at the optics of our black-frocked family standing on the grand staircase of the grand entrance as we pretend to wait for the cars in full view of the mourners passing by on foot. Never mind that my grandfather can't do steps--Lady Sylvia could not care less. Imagine, if you will, a sharper, crueler version of Maggie Smith, and you'll have some semblance of an idea of my grandmother. Add an unhealthy dose of botulinum toxin, and there's your visual. Standing beside the remains of my family, I've never felt more like a stranger. My stepmother, Ruth, grips my sister Katie's hand as the valet helps my grandfather descend to the car--for my sister's sake more than her own. My stepmother seems quite fine, actually, enduring this hideousness as if it were any other day with my grandparents--she's had years of practice being a lowly American, and my father's second wife at that. My sister, however--her ocean blue eyes are dull and clouded, staring at nothing, and dressed in black, she looks mostly dead herself; she hardly notices when my stepmother breaks away to head to the chapel on her own. We should be going with her, but my grandmother insisted on this arrangement (separate cars for second wives), and Ruth either didn't care enough to protest, or knew better. The eighteenth-century chapel is on the grounds of the estate, only about a half a kilometre away--its spire pierces the English sky (grey, sunless, speckled with the occasional crow). A carefully landscaped wood helps obscure the twelfth-century ruins of the abbey that preceded it. Grandmother finds the ruins unsightly, unsurprisingly, but the National Trust entered into an arrangement with some skint ancestor or another--maintaining castles isn't cheap--and thus prevented her from fucking up that which should not be fucked with. I'm rather sentimental about the ruins--as a child, I halfheartedly attempted suicide there now and again, always returning from post-tourist-hours expeditions with knees winking with cuts, and the occasional fracture or two. "All right, children." My grandmother clasps her hands together as the car comes to a stop. "The carriage will begin the procession once everybody is assembled at the chapel. All you need do is wait until the casket is carried inside, then sit in the front left pew. Is that understood?" My father's affectless, emotionless voice is echoed in hers, and she speaks as though it were not her dead son we were gathered here to mourn, but rather a play we're about to put on. If I were capable of feeling anything at the moment, I think I might hate her. "Yes, Grandmother," Katie says. My turn. "Understood," I say. "Perfect." She arranges her and my grandfather's iron hair, along with his suit. The chapel doors are open, and a small crowd awaits the carriage hearse within and without. The valet exits our now-idling car to help my grandfather, and when the door opens-- The air is swollen with sound, more heartbeats than I can count, the threads of at least a hundred pulses quickening, the air itself seeming to inhale and exhale with each breath taken behind the stone walls. I can hear the tiny hearts of birds--crows, pheasant, pigeons, distinct from the hawk slicing the air above us. The knotty-wood-and-iron door opens, and it's like cracking open a hive of bees--whispers and coughs and echoes, every note bursting and lurid. An old, dull impulse to place my hands over my ears and scream like I (very occasionally) did when I was a boy arises, but my ears were never the problem. My mind is. What it usually feels like to be me: The sounds I shouldn't be able to hear skim off the surface of my mind. Everything is white noise until I focus, until something seizes my attention, but this, right now--it's nothing like that. This feels like an assault, a mess of sounds, like being surrounded by instruments being smashed. It's distracting enough that I hadn't noticed the dozens of heads twisted over shoulders to glance at our Long-Expected Party. And lo, among them stands Goose. The volume of the noise blurs my vision for a moment--crowds are always awful, but it's especially worse today--and Goose is nothing more than a fall of blond hair and an open smile, flanked by the smudges of Patrick and Neirin. There's a thunderclap of a hand on my shoulder. "Hard luck, mate," says Goose, his voice deep and rather astonishingly resonant, rising above the din. "We're so sorry," Patrick follows. A simple nod from Neirin. Those three faces, none alike in dignity or feature: Goose light and lanky and loud; Neirin dark and soft and innocent; and ginger red and freckled Patrick. Patrick and Neirin seem frozen in time--their faces the same as they were nearly three years ago when I left Westminster. I see snapshots of memories with their faces: Goose flashing his middle finger at me in Yard; Patrick rolling his first cigarette with ferocious concentration; Neirin scratching at maths problems, his face pinched with concentration. And then me, holding a champagne sabre, spraying hundreds of pounds' worth down open throats. Putting my cigarette out in the horsehair pancake to the collective horror of the teachers and students assembled for the Greaze, and the four of us snorting lines of coke Patrick shyly produced from his pocket, off his iPad in his father's study. We were not a foursome. For that, we'd need to be bonded by secrets, and I shared none of mine. Secrets cut you off from everyone else, so I would always suggest the vast majority of our exploits to mask that I never could quite connect with them in the first place. Insert a stifled sob here, would you? A forked tongue clicks beside my ear. "It's almost time," my grandmother says, looking at the valet for confirmation, then at my stepmother. With a tiny crunch of a nod she looks ahead, toward the manor house, toward the old stables, ancient but fortified over the centuries. From the gate, four glossy Friesians emerge, a driver in a top hat commanding them, and my father's coffin encased in a black wood and glass hearse behind. I can't see all that well from here--my head is still fizzing with sounds, whispers and coughs and everything else. But not Mara. The way she sounds, the way she's always sounded--like one discordant note, twisted just enough to affect the notes surrounding it--is impossible to ignore. An aural fingerprint, distinctly her own, distinctly Mara. The first time I heard her, I never wanted to listen to anyone else. I look and listen for that note as the horses' hooves knock the ground in a steady, dignified trot, their large hearts pumping solidly with the effort. I can almost feel their boredom as they approach, which is why, halfway down the path, the ripple of terror and rage in their bodies reverberates in mine. They break their gait, stopping, stamping--one backs up, another sidesteps into another horse. Then one of them rears, nearly snapping the harness. The colour of Katie's face is ash, her heartbeat racing the way the horses want to. "It's all right," I say reflexively, and my sister snaps her head toward me and slits her eyes. There's anger there, fighting for a place beside her sadness. Today is changing her, has changed her already. My grandmother holds tight to my grandfather's arm, her face a mask of placidity as her blood ices with anger. She looks to the priest, who says something to the people in a vain attempt to calm them, because the horses begin to thunder toward the chapel, eliciting screams despite being several lengths away. I can feel the power of them in the ground. They're about to turn sharply to their right, cracking into the woodlands just before they do it, just before the hearse overturns. I know what they're going to do before they do it, because at that moment I hear Mara, see her running toward us, diagonally through the hedges that enclose the gardens and past the Atlas fountain, and as her path begins to converge with the carriage, the horses blaze with panic. My eyes meet Mara's, and she stops short. Looks at the horses, then back at me. It's her they're terrified of. I know it, she knows it, and so she vanishes as swiftly as she arrived. I don't wait for anyone to calm the horses, or for the pallbearers to fetch the coffin and bear it toward the church. I turn away from the priest, attempting to usher everyone away from the scene and into the chapel, and manage to slip away unnoticed. I glance back just once before I reach the woods, long enough to see Katie's glossed head moving through the doors, her eyes vacant, her arms held by Ruth and my grandparents before the last knot of bodies passes inside. And then I turn away from them all, away from my father, away from the sodden remains of my family, to Mara. Excerpted from The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.