Saturday, February 09, 2013

Book Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Book: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Published: February 5, 2013
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

Things have been a little weird for Mallory ever since she killed her boyfriend, Brian, with a kitchen knife one summer night. She's ostracized by most of her friends, virtually ignored at home, and forced to take out a restraining order against Brian's grief stricken mother. It was self-defense . . . well, she's pretty sure it was self-defense. But however it happened, she's still suffering.

When her parents enroll her in boarding school, Mallory goes along with it, desperate to escape the constant reminders of what she did. But her guilt follows her to school, where bitchy classmates spread the tale of her past far and wide, and she constantly sees a green car whenever she leaves campus. Even worse, Brian himself seems to be haunting her. She keeps waking up with a painful red handprint on her shoulder, and the dreams just won't stop.

What really did happen that hot summer night? And when Mallory finally knows, what is she going to do about it?

So I'm calling it. The stealth trend of the last few years is Gothic. Some are the traditional Gothics (The Dark Unwinding, a Gothic with a steampunk cover), some are updated (Unspoken) and some go by the name "psychological thriller." But this is totally Gothic.

Girl in danger? Check. Possibly-paranormal-source-of-danger? Check. Girl being told that there is nothing wrong and it's all in her head? CHECK.

How did it work for me? Pretty well, when I was reading it. I got caught up in Mallory's gritty tale, especially since there were times when she wobbled at the edge of sanity. Few things are quite so neat as an unreliable narrator. While Mallory never got to that point, she definitely leaned in that direction. I also liked Reid, the childhood friend who turned out very cute and very sweet. And Colleen, her best friend from home, was ten pounds of awesome in a five pound bag.

After I put it down, I started thinking. Really, parents? Really?? This girl was traumatized, and there was no therapy. No counseling, court-ordered or otherwise. You just packed her off to boarding school and expected that to go well. There wasn't even a nod from school administration that their newest student might have some issues that needed tending to, although they clearly knew since the head of the jackass clique was the dean's son and the one who saw to it that the story got around. Reid was a little bit Ideal Boy for me, though it was good that he was there to balance out the total disdain from everyone else.

Maybe that's what made it most Gothic for me. Mallory has been abandoned by everyone (she's even cut off from Colleen for a short time) and she has to face down all her enemies, including her own mind, by herself.

Final verdict? I liked it, but decided not to think about it very hard.

3 comments:

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

Great review! I think you are really onto something here... I think Gothic is definitely a trend.

Melissa Fox said...

Gothic as a stealth trend? Totally seeing that. And ghosts and murders. YA has become quite grizzly of late.

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