Friday, February 15, 2013

ARC Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Title: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery Thriller

Mallory's life is falling apart.

Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear...

When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips.

Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that?
Review by Nara

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for sending me an advance copy of Hysteria through NetGalley. In no way did this affect my opinion of the book.

I remember reading Miranda's debut novel, Fracture, and being decidedly unimpressed by it. I know I must have been unimpressed by it because, honestly, I can't remember ANYTHING about it. I went back and looked at the blurb, but nope, not ringing a bell...awkward. (I do read a lot of books, so anything mediocre I usually forget all about...) Thankfully, Miranda's writing has appeared to improve quite a bit in Hysteria, although there were still a few flaws here and there that prevented me from thoroughly enjoying it.

Hysteria had a really interesting premise: murdering main character, creepy ghostly presence, more murder, hell yeah! So here I was, expecting awesomeness and creepiness and mystery (and murder), and honestly, the only one of those I got was murder (and half creepiness/mystery, I guess...). Hysteria starts off quite slowly (which is good, I guess, to build up the tension or whatever). The first couple of chapters basically seemed like a normal contemporary boarding school/coming of age novel- i.e. the character moving out after a traumatic event in order to heal herself etc. etc. BUT there were slight undertones of creepiness with the "presence". So there I am, reading this contemporary-ish novel, thinking to myself "GIMME THE DEAD PUPIL".

Then suddenly, BAM and the horror/thriller part of the novel began to dominate, and I think this is where the novel completely lost the plot (pun intended). It suddenly became ridiculously confusing, so much so that you wonder whether the author intended it to be so to illustrate that Mallory is insane. It was completely jumbled, and I had to reread parts because I was sitting there going "WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?!". The pace nearing the climax is much too quick, basically all these important events were thrown at you at once, with none of them being adequately explored. As you try to make sense of one event, the others slap you in the face. CONFUSION TO THE MAX.

Throughout the novel, bits and pieces of the night where she stabbed her boyfriend are revealed, and the complete picture of what actually happened is not obtained until right near the end, but honestly, even now I struggle to understand exactly what happened and why she killed the boyfriend. The characters were a bit underdeveloped (except Mallory, and possibly Reid- the love interest), especially the whole Bree/Taryn/Jason's-cousin-whose-name-I-can't-remember mess. The ending was also confusing, and not that satisfying. When the secrets are finally revealed it's a bit "oh it that all?/WTF, seriously?"

After all those criticisms, you're probably wondering why I still gave the novel a 7/10. Even with the confusion/unsatisfying ending/underdeveloped minor characters, I found that the quality of the actual writing was high, and the character of Mallory was very well developed. I feel that perhaps the novel might be better understood if read more than once, so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.

Alternate Cover (US)

Liked it

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5 (UK)
           4/5 (US)


  1. This book has gotten reviews all over the place and I don't know what to make of it. Most people aren't loving. It was nice you gave it the benefit of the doubt, but I am thinking I am going to skip this one.

    1. Hmm, yeah. I found that a lot of people are either hating it or sitting on the fence for this one. I decided to give it a try because I read a few favourable reviews and the premise was somewhat original (also because I was approved for it on NetGalley haha).