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.
Oh hello, most anticipated book of the year. I can’t even remember when the news broke that Michelle Hodkin was writing a spinoff trilogy for Noah but I do remember that I lost my mind that day. There is so much about Mara Dyer that I love, from the writing to the characters, but Noah was definitely my favourite thing. I have a very interesting relationship with Mr. Shaw. He’s the kind of character that I tend to forget about, a character that tends to be relatively underrated, but once I remember him and everything that he is it’s like I got hit by the feelings bus and I can’t get up. There was so much to Noah Shaw that I wanted and needed to know and I’m confident that I’m gonna learn what I want to learn in this new trilogy. I really enjoyed what this first book had to offer and I was worried that because I’ve hyped it up so much that I’d end up disappointed, like I’ve been a lot this year, but I wasn’t. I love where the story went and the direction it intends to go into and I just want to read more. I also want to quickly mention that for some cosmic reason my copy of this book got sent to me an entire week early so I read this last week and it was so hard keeping everything to myself. I wanted to review it as soon as I finished but I had to be good and not spoil it so here we are. But shout out to whoever decided to ship it to me early; you’re the real MVP.
- Holy crap, Noah Shaw is a fantastic narrator. Not only is that the biggest takeaway from this book but it’s by far my favourite thing. In Mara Dyer, we had to rely on Mara as the sole narrator for basically the entire trilogy until we got to the near end of Retribution where Noah had a few POV chapters. I liked Mara as a narrator but at times she felt a bit unreliable, mainly because neither you or her knew what was really going on with her. But I felt like here with Noah, he was such a reliable narrator. I could trust what he was saying and never did I think he would lie to me, if that makes any sense. But his voice, god his voice. I know it sounds weird to talk about a character’s voice when you’re reading it in your own voice in your head (or out loud, I won’t judge) but I swear that he had a distinct voice here. I could hear the borderline disdain, the sarcasm, the lack of empathy towards his family and his father, and his hatred for the professor. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about a narrator’s voice when I’ve reviewed a book before or talked about the writing but I swear to god this book has a voice and it is loud. A lot of the time with Noah felt like you were digging deeper and deeper into his mind and listening to his inner monologue and while it did reveal a lot about him, I just found it super entertaining. My favourite quote is “we should probably get our stories straight. Or fuck it, hakuna matata.” Like, who says that?? I swear, I laughed for 5 minutes straight. Noah Shaw has a sense of humour, who knew? Ok back to being serious. I think it really says a lot about how great the writing was if I felt this way about the narrator and his voice. The fact that I’ve never said that should really say a lot about the writing of this book. If I wasn’t super attracted to Noah before, I definitely am now and it’s all because of his voice. Don’t ask me how I know it, but the boy has a sexy voice. He just does. When you know, you know. And I know.
- This series didn’t quite pick up where Mara Dyer left off and I think it was better that way because it was a way for Noah to establish his own story. But that’s not to say that the two trilogies aren’t connected because they definitely are, and I thought that the way they’re connected was done quite well. Throughout the novel, we (being you, the reader, and Noah) come across a bunch of handwritten letters that go back and forth between his great-grandparents(?) when they were taking care of Mara’s grandmother, which is something we saw through Mara’s flashbacks and dreams in her trilogy. First of all, I liked being able to see that through someone else’s eyes and being able to see how much her grandmother actually meant to this family. But I don’t think it was a story that Noah fully knew and it was interesting seeing him learn about it this way. I thought it was a nice bridge between not only Mara and her grandmother’s story but Mara and Noah’s story as well. Also, throughout the book Noah would remember conversations he and Mara had from the first trilogy and they were written as flashbacks, I suppose, as reminders to readers. They were nice refreshers but also weren’t the kind of obvious recaps where events and outcomes would be listed. I liked how the recaps were handled by Hodkin which, again, is a nod to her wonderful writing.
- I feel like the overall mystery of this trilogy is going to focus on the “why” instead of the “what” which is what I believe Mara’s story was about. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what she was doing and what she was but here we already know what Noah is and what he can do. But we don’t know why all these things are happening. We’re constantly asking why the Gifted are being killed. We’re also asking who’s behind it and why they’re doing it. Is it Mara? Is it the professor? Is it this Leo kid? I don’t know, but I want to. I like that it’s more of a solid mystery and has hints of being a double mystery, meaning the who and the why. It seems really promising and I just want to know more.
- The end of this book and the cliffhanger was really insane and super unchill??? What does any of this mean??? What is happening??? I’m confused but I also have some theories. I need answers, Hodkin, and I need them now.
- Daniel Dyer. That is all.
- This is not a true bad point because this isn’t something that personally bothered me but I think I need to address it anyways. Before I even read this book, I saw a couple people on Goodreads saying that this book was “toxic” or “problematic,” I suppose, because of its subject matter. Yes, it heavily deals with the topic of suicide and I know that our generation is super sensitive these days, but it makes me wonder: did these people read the original trilogy? Do they not know what this story is about? I knew coming into this book that there was going to be numerous suicide mentions because Noah has already blatantly stated how he’s tried it before but because of his Gift he can’t die. It’s a fact. And another part of his Gift is that he can see when other Gifted are in pain and he therefore sees what’s happening to the ones that are dying. The deaths of the other Gifted is definitely considered suicide but at the same time it feels like someone else is making them do this so on some level it’s also not suicide. Someone else is forcing their hand in all of the deaths here. Still with me? Also, before you even start this book there is a GIANT trigger warning that literally tells you every possible trigger to be found within this book. So if there’s a trigger warning, how can we still be complaining? If you read that and decide “hey, this might be too much for me” then maybe don’t read it. I never saw this story as toxic and I think it’s admirable that Hodkin put that trigger warning. And yet, people still complain. I don’t know what else to say.
- I don’t trust this Leo character and I don’t think Noah should 100% trust and rely on what he’s been told about Mara and everything that he missed. Also, Noah seems to be keeping a few secrets himself and secrets don’t make friends, Noah. Knock it off.
- This is dumb but the “handwritten” letters were kind of hard to read at times. This is literally no one’s fault but I’m just saying, it could’ve been a bit more legible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- This book was truly a great return to a dark and twisted world with such a strong narrative that promises to be reliable throughout. The tone of the mystery focuses more on the “why” instead of the “what,” creating contrast from its predecessor, and it’s one that leaves you hungry for answers. I love what you’ve confessed so far, Noah Shaw, and I can’t wait to hear more of what you have to say.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: The Becoming of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions #1)
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!