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Monday, March 11, 2013

Blog Tour: Hysteria by Megan Miranda [Review + Giveaway]

Young Adult,  Psychological Drama, Mystery
Publication.Date  February 5th 2013
Published By:  Walker Childrens
WebsiteMegan Miranda

My review copy:E-galley of the book received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

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. 

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.


I hated that I felt jealous. Hated it. It's not like I'd been on my own waiting for him, just like he hadn't been waiting alone for me. We had lived, for two years. Made choices and mistakes, had good days and bad days
And then I started laughing. Horrible, really. But I was laughing. Because of all the things they could say about me, equal parts horrible and true, this was so far from the mark it was funny.
I knew how I was supposed to feel when I was with him. Well, I knew what I was not supposed to feel. I wasn't supposed to feel anxious. Not tense, either. Or maybe I was. Maybe this was normal. I didn't know. So I let him whisper in my ear and put his hands on my hips. And I listened to him list the ways in which I was slowly killing him.

None of which turned out to be the actual way that I killed him.
I thought that this must be what purgatory was like. Can't go forward. Can't go back. Awaiting some official judgment.

     When I picked up this book, I expected a cracking thriller full of twists and unpredictable, blood-chilling events. The premise sounded so fascinating - a girl who stabbed her boyfriend to death, and has no recollection of how or why it happened, is haunted by an evil presence while staying at a secluded boarding school - and I was so sure that this one was going to creep the living soul out of me! Unfortunately, I can't say that I was right. While the book kicks-off with some downright terrifying scenes and a decent amount of creepy, the latter part of it veers into a very confusing, borderline-ridiculous melodrama. So while I certainly enjoyed this book, it wasn't at all what I expected. 

     Mallory has blood on her hands. She stabbed her boyfriend in her own kitchen and then ran off, leaving him to bleed out on the floor. Her memory of that night is very hazy, she doesn't know the how and why herself. And she's not the only one with doubts. Her own parents don't seem to trust/believe her, they hide the kitchen knives from her and lock the doors of their bedroom at night. When the murder charges are dropped thanks to self-defence proven, Mallory is sent away to a boarding school far away from her home town to forget about the nightmare and recover. That, as it turns out, is not meant to happen. As her hallucinations intensify, she starts hearing weird sounds and voices and is waking up with bruises on her arms, Mallory starts wondering if the things she's experiencing are the result of mental sickness (hysteria), or if someone (or something) is after her

     I know, right? How could you possibly resists this premise? It sounds so intense and atmospheric! However, if you pick it up expecting an eerie, heart-pounding thriller with a hint of paranormal - you'll probably end up bitterly disappointed and frustrated. This is more of a psychological drama, and one that is rather short on scares and thrills. As the book's tone moves from vaguely supernatural murder mystery to sappy, over-dramatic and often totally confusing teen love story, illogicality overpowers the  exciting ambiguities it has established. 

     There are two plot threads - two dead bodies - in this book, the second being a cocky, manipulative and aggressive guy Mallory meets at the boarding school, whose body is discovered on the floor in her room about halfway through the book. Again, Mallory doesn't know what happened and how the guy ended up in her room - which was locked from the insight - with his wrists slashed with the knife she kept for protection in her drawer. Explanations to both of the mysteries, while original and a bit surprising - failed to impress me. They seemed rather silly and improbable, and they were totally unrelated to each other. I hoped for an ending that would knock my socks off, but that didn't happened. This book started off so great and I just couldn't believe how thoroughly anticlimactic the ending was. It didn't even feel like anything was resolved, the big reveals were a bit weak and disappointing. The story felt rushed in trying to wrap everything up in the last two-three chapters, with enough loose ends left over to annoy even the most patient and forgiving reader. 

     Some plot developments were extremely iffy. I don't understand why Mallory was sent away to the boarding school in the first place. Seems to me that if your child's life is in danger, you'd simply pack your bags and leave the town with her, not send her to a creepy, secluded place with no cell reception. The murder charges against Mallory were too easily dropped, too. There was hardly any investigation to try and figure out why she stabbed the guy, not to mention that there was practically no reason to believe that he was a threat to her life. Sure, he was drunk, but he never threatened or hurt her before, and other than punching one guy, he didn't seem to have any history of violence either. It is said that he seemed threatening, but if I'd go around stabbing everyone who "seems" a tiny bit dangerous, I'd ran out of kitchen knives in no time. She killed him, cause he broke into her house intoxicated, repeating "Mallory, wait" and "listen" - am I the only one who thinks this is just plain ridiculous? Not to mention that, as it later turns out, he didn't even break into her house at all, he knocked on the door and she let him in. And the final scenes involving Colleen? Totally unnecessary.

     On the other hand, the atmospheric, eerie setting (boarding school surrounded by dark woods and mountains) worked really great! I definitely appreciated how well described it was. I love books set in small, mysterious towns. The feeling of being isolated and trapped was almost palpable. 

    While I liked some of the characters, Mallory herself was definitely not my type of heroine. First of all, I did not feel any sympathy for her. I can't bring myself to root for a girl who tries to make out with a guy at his father's funeral and then runs off offended when he refuses to do that. Most of the time, I did not approve of her behavior and attitude towards others (especially boys). And I didn't like how she chose to deal with all the threatening situations in her life (popping sleeping pills or running away). Like I said, not my type of heroine. I did, however, like Colleen and Reid, they were both very interesting characters with colorful personalities. 

     In the end, despite it's titillating premise, Hysteria ultimately fails to deliver the chills and thrills expected of a good psychological thriller. It's not necessarily a bad book, just not exactly the book it seems to be at a first glance. As a contemporary drama with a splash of mystery this book works quite well, but don't expect to come out of it scared out of your wits.

Thanks to the fabulous folk at Walker Childrens, we have one finished copy of Hysteria up for grabs! The giveaway is open to US addresses only! Please enter via Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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