Friday, March 8, 2013

Hysteria Unraveled

If you are covered in your boyfriend's blood and his lifeless body is found in your kitchen, there is no chance you will ever be considered innocent. The courts may be persuaded to believe it was self-defense, but in the eye of the public, you are still guilty. Especially to the guy you killed. In Megan Miranda's Hysteria, one girl carries the weight of what she did on her shoulders, but no one will let her move on.

When her mom hides the knife block in the kitchen, it was the first sign Mallory's own parents didn't trust her, were possibly even scared of her. She had been found innocent, and the murder of her boyfriend Brian was considered self-defense after he broke into her house and attacked her, but she can't even remember what happened that night. After Brian's mother breaks into their house, Mallory is sent to her father's old boarding school to get away from everything... and she is convinced her parents sent her because they don't trust her.

But everything isn't perfect at Monroe. Steeped in tradition and secrets, there is more to Monroe than meets the eye, and Mallory isn't exactly accepted with open arms. She struggles to fit in, and her roommate even leaves the room when she sees Mallory there. Luckily, Mallory has Reid, the son of her father's best friend from Monroe. Reid helps Mallory feel a little less lonely, but when a boy is murdered in Mallory's bedroom and she doesn't remember anything about it, the situation feels all too familiar. 

This is a murder mystery, a psychological thriller, and a ghost story all rolled into one. It was really interesting, but sometimes the plot became difficult to get a firm grasp on. Sometimes I thought I understood what was happening only to find myself confused again. I understand that is the general slow roll-out of a plot that centers around mystery and intrigue, but it felt a little too heavy-handed at times. But on a whole, it was a very interesting story. I certainly wasn't able to unravel all of the mystery at the end ahead of time, so it was a successful mystery!

The characters were many-layered and interesting. Mallory is, of course, intriguing, but so were Reid and her friend Colleen, not to mention the other Monroe kids. The layer of tradition and secrets kept you wondering about these fancy prep schools and how this stuff can persist. I wonder about the kind of kids who come out of these prep schools with their lack of sensitivity to manipulation and deceit. That has got to carry over into their adult lives! This is a good book for any kid who needs a good mystery but has trouble figuring things out because the murder is out in the open, but there is still layer after layer of mystery to unravel. It makes this novel a good combination of obvious and not-so-obvious. 

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