Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hysteria by Megan Miranda | Book Review

(Not really a big fan of this cover.)

So here's the blurb from Goodreads (and I think it's the jacket summary as well):  Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian.  She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged.  But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life.  Is it all in her head?  Or is it something more?  In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her... or anything about her past.  But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets.  Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead.  As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

I thought this was a pretty good book, and I've definitely recommended it to a few teens.  It's a fairly quick read, packed with lots of intrigue and suspense.  It's so easy to book talk.  When I read it, I got sucked in to the plot and barely surfaced for air before finishing.  The pacing and tone are great.  The book alternates between first-person contemporary (Mallory's pov) and flashbacks to the night that Brian died (also Mallory's pov), so the reader really gets inside Mallory's head.  By scattering the flashbacks in between chapters, the reader is kept in suspense for most of the book as to what really happened that dark and fateful night.  And finally, I liked that Hysteria ended.  That sounds mean, but it's not.  I liked Hysteria's ending.  I just liked that it ended... there are so many YA trilogies and series, it's refreshing to find a good standalone novel.

Now that I've listed all those great positives, I'm going to disclose a few negatives.  They're not that bad, and they're things that might not bother other readers at all.

First:  the blurb/summary.  I included the blurb above so that ya'll would have it right in front of you when I break the news that I feel it misleads.  "She can't remember the details of that night..."  Oh, but she can!  As I mentioned above, there are flashbacks nearly every chapter of the book.  She does remember what happened that night, and it haunts her.  The reader doesn't know, but Mallory does.  "In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her... or anything about her past."  Oh, but there is someone who knows her!  In fact, her dad is a Monroe alumnae, and he's been dragging the family to different Monroe get-together events her entire life.  There's a student at Monroe, Reid, who Mallory tried to make a move on just two years prior.  Also, are there ever really any secrets with high schoolers?  They don't even have to know half the facts to get the rumor mill going.

I also had a problem with some of the characters' relationships.  The friendship between Mallory and Colleen felt really weird... sometimes it felt like they were mad at each or seriously drifting apart and then next thing you know Colleen would be getting herself into trouble on Mallory's behalf.  The relationship between Mallory and her parents felt really odd also, up until the very, very end of the book.  I just could not get a handle on how they felt about each other.  I chalked that one up to the fact that their daughter had (in self-defense) killed another kid.  I don't think anyone knows how they'd react in that situation. 

My final little gripe is with the book's length and depth.  I was left wanting more.  I don't feel like I really got to know any of the characters.  Even the main character, Mallory, is a bit of a conundrum at the end of the book.  If there had been a little more length, there could have been a little more character development.

Overall, not a bad book at all.  I'd give it 3.5 of 5 stars.

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