Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: YA contemporary, mystery
Publication Date: February 5, 2013 (Walker Children’s/Macmillan – North America)
Source: NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: After stabbing and killing her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mallory, who has no memory of the event, is sent away to a boarding school to escape the gossip and threats, but someone or something is following her.
☆: 4/5 stars – a fun, fast-paced thrill ride of a read!
Review: “Fracture” was one of my favorite debuts last year, so when I heard Miranda was putting out another book this year, I was intensely excited. What I got, however, wasn’t quite the same as “Fracture”, but something still good enough to be quite the addictive read. If you’re looking for a great fast-paced thriller to read, “Hysteria” is definitely the book for you.
Though slow to start in all technical areas, “Hysteria” has a lot going for it. It constantly toes the line between clinical detachment (as Miranda has a background in science, that’s not surprising) and human involvement, supernatural versus reality, and hysteria versus calm. I love how she went into the Victorian idea of “hysteria”, and sprinkled little bits about it all throughout the book – that was a really nice touch. There was a lot of nightmarish/dreamy-feeling parts to the prose followed by a very cold dash of reality, and I feel that on the whole, Miranda really improved in her craft when it comes to drawing the reader into a mystery, regardless of what that mystery is (because, let’s face it, there are a LOT of mysteries in this book to be solved).
Her second most-improved area? Definitely sensory language and imagery. There were parts of this book I had to put down because they were a bit too much for me in the sensory arena, and it’s pretty hard to get me to do that. You can practically feel the blood and the knives and the pain that Mallory feels, even if it may just be psychological hysteria/somatizing of her emotional pain. The sensory imagery here is incredibly intense, so you’ve been warned. It’s not a bad thing at all, but I was thrilled to see that Miranda had grown since “Fracture” and “Eleven Minutes”.
Because there are all of these opposites going against each other, any insufficiencies that one side might have had, the other helped prop up and make up for those insufficiencies. Example? I feel that all of the characters at Monroe could have been built up a bit more, especially Bree, Taryn, Jason, and Krysta, because they felt a little 2D. However, the character relationships between Mallory and everyone else at Monroe (also compared with those at home both pre-and-post Bryan’s murder) really made up for anything those characters might have lacked. Things came together a bit slowly, but once we start getting answers to all of the questions given to the reader at the start of the book, you will keep turning the pages until the last one. And that ending? It’ll stay with you. So that slow start really had everything made up for it when that snowball of an ending hits at the end of the book.
I do have to say that some of the Big Reveals…well, with the hints given, they didn’t feel so big, and I feel like they could have been made a bit bigger, more exaggerated. However, what I did really like was that there was more than a little of a tip to the hat to Poe’s “House of Usher” in parts of the book – so much so that I started to wonder if this was a retelling – which I definitely didn’t have a problem with. I don’t think it was, in the end, but I still really enjoyed all of the little homages here and there to Poe – and all of it was knit into the world, which was slowly, but fantastically done. Utterly sucked me in, that world, and I think it will for everyone else, too. It also felt very complete, and I think this is because Miranda used her characters to help build the world, even the most minor ones. And it worked.
Final verdict? While not quite as intense as “Fracture”, “Hysteria” is still a great story that deserves a read. I enjoyed it, and I look forward to more of her work in the future. “Hysteria” is out February 5, 2013 from Bloomsbury Kids/Teens USA, so be sure to check it out once you get the chance! And be sure to look for a guest post on the blog from the author on March 15, 2013!