Title: The Becoming of Noah Shaw
Author: Michelle Hodkin
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.
Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future.
And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Simon and Schuster for my review copy of The Becoming of Noah Shaw!
“The scars you can’t see are the ones that hurt the most.”
If I had to describe The Becoming of Noah Shaw in one word, I would say messy. Because that’s quite honestly what is it: a mess.
The Mara Dyer trilogy was once favorite series when I was fifteen years old (up until the third book came out… That was another big mess). I know that wouldn’t be the case now; if I reread them, they would probably not get more than two stars. I knew that before I read The Becoming of Noah Shaw. But still, I wanted to read this book for nostalgia’s sake, and because I was hoping the characters would redeem themselves and I could like them again.
No such thing happened.
The main thing I can say about this book is that it was unnecessary and not a lot happened. Technically this book didn’t need to exist. The Mara Dyer trilogy had a very rushed and incomplete ending, but this book doesn’t add anything that makes up for it. Instead it jumps straight into a new storyline… but the thing is, Noah, Mara and their friends are all hearing about it secondhand until the very end of the book. The first 45 chapters or so could be categorized as fillers. While the “plot” of the book was interesting, it didn’t really take off until right before the book ended. And if Hodkin’s other books are anything to judge by, the next book in the series will not provide any answers and will take until the very end of the story to provide more questions that will go unanswered… until the very end of the third book. (The Shaw Confessions is going to be a trilogy, right? I don’t even remember.)
There’s really nothing appealing about having ~350 pages of nothing, and only a few pages that actually matter when it comes to the plot. The rest of the book consists of Noah being mean to others, sulking, and lying to everyone. That got old really quickly.
Another thing that I disliked about The Becoming of Noah Shaw was that it threw around insensitive comments, many times for the sake of “humor.” Even the trigger warnings made me weary of the book; some of the things are probably not even triggers, and the way the list was written felt… condescending, maybe? (That could be the wrong word.) Which makes no sense for a book in which the plot revolves around suicide. Anyway, here’s the list:
“Trigger warning for suicide, homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly mind, harm to others, harm to self, disordered eating, disordered thinking, disordered feeling, disordered being, body shaming, victim shaming, shaming of every kind, dark humor, ill humor, shitty humor, maiming, miming, death of teenagers, death of adults, death of authority figures, death of inconsequential red shirts. Also sex. But if you need a trigger warning for that, you’re reading the wrong book.”
And here are some examples that are part of the actual story:
A glance at the screen reveals the caller. “It’s our favorite bisexual Jewish black friend.”
“Which?” I try handing the phone to her and she waves it away. “Can’t. Exhausted.”
“It’s jet lag, not Ebola.”
“Now, did you do something to a goose to earn your moniker?”
Goosey pretends to think about it for a moment. “Not so much ‘to’ as ‘with,’ I’d say.”
“The goose verbally consented,” I say.
“How much did you drink?” She holds up three fingers. “Did you eat?”
“We’re going to have to work on her.” Goose says, tipping his chin toward Mara. “Unless you prefer them unconscious now?”
“You’re my preferred method of self-harm.”
“There’s… family stuff.” Mara’s expression changes, and I need to choose my words more carefully than I have been. “Things of my mother’s I had sent over. I want to be the one who sees it all first, all right?” I’m not above playing the dead mother card.
“She looked so rare and exotic and exquisite, her husband could not take his eyes from her, and neither could anyone else.”
(So Hodkin is still calling Indian women exotic.)
I know these things won’t bother everyone, but they bothered me and made it harder for me to like the story and impossible to like the characters.
One thing this book had going for it, though? It was a super quick read. I read the majority of it in two days.