Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Walker Childrens/Bloomsbury
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
I kind of loved Megan Miranda's debut novel Fracture when I read it early last year, so I had pretty high hopes for Hysteria, despite seeing a lot of mixed reviews for it. But I know what resonates with me as a reader, and I rarely go wrong with psychological thrillers, so I maintained those high expectations. I just knew that I would enjoy this novel, and I'm not at all surprised that I was right. That's the price you pay for being an insufferable know-it-all...you can't surprise yourself anymore. =)
The author has a background in science, and it shows in both Fracture and Hysteria, in the way she presents the story in a slightly clinical manner. I can see why that would be off-putting for some readers, but I love it. Science and the paranormal weave together in this story to create a narrative that is both emotionally gripping yet able to confound the reader into suspecting everyone. I also love the use of flashbacks and half-dreams throughout the story to impart secrets or otherwise hidden knowledge. While some aspects of the mystery were easy to speculate upon, others remained elusive till the bitter end.
So, normally I need to really feel a connection to the main characters in order to truly enjoy a novel, but in this case -- and with Fracture, if I really think about it -- the mystery itself was the aspect I was most drawn to, and since it encompassed a big percentage of the storyline, it made the fact that I wasn't completely enthralled with the characters a little easier. That's not to say that the characters weren't likeable or relatable; they simply won't go down as my favorite characters or anything. And that's okay with me.
The relationships in the book balance out the characters in such a way that I was able to overlook a lot of character flaws. Like the fact that given a chance, Mallory would rather run than face her problems. Every single time. She did a lot of running in this story. But her friendship with Colleen put us back on even footing. Because even though Mallory wasn't ready to meet her own problems head-on, she would do anything for her best friend, including fighting Colleen's battles if need be...and vice-versa. The fact that there was such a strong, solid friendship at the center of this story really compensated for any of the shortcomings it might have had.
There's a bit of romance in this book. Nothing earth-shattering, and no love triangles, but we do get to witness two (three?) very different relationships in Mallory's life...all within the last six months. These relationships are all equally important to the story. It isn't all about the murdered boyfriend but rather about the repercussions. It's about the memories, the ability to determine reality from the imagined. It's about the friendships and relationships that survive and the ones that don't.
Hysteria is a stark look at how one night, one choice, can change the course of your life. Full of heartbreak, betrayal, and guilt, it's a slightly gritty contemporary with a paranormal vibe, and if you enjoyed Fracture, I can almost guarantee you'll like this book, as well. In fact, I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't recommend this novel to someone.