Lackluster Hysteria: Conversion (Review)

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I was really hoping for more from this book.  When I saw the description in a copy of BookPage, I immediately added this book to my “to-read” shelf; I looked forward to its arrival from the library.  Unfortunately I was really rather disappointed with how it turned out.

Colleen was a bland, bitchy, completely uninteresting and unrelatable character.  Ugh.  She spends much of the novel putting down her “friends,” since they are all competing in some way or another.  She seems to have no real connection to her closest friends, and constantly comments on how their actions and choices are inferior.  Aside from Colleen, the rest of the cast is equally bland, undeveloped, and cliche.  There were moments while reading this that I felt I was skimming through the Mean Girls screenplay.  I realize that this book takes place in a prep school, and therefore the characters would be different than the average American high-schooler, but jeez.  Obnoxious, undeveloped, and unrealistic.

This book took forever to get going.  I didn’t feel “hooked” until about 270 pages in.  I think I should have returned it to the library at that point, but I didn’t want to just give up so easily…I kept hoping that the plot would get more interesting.  The chapters on Ann Putnam started to move along a little bit, but I found myself increasingly irked by her character.  This overshadowed any excitement that I felt for the plot picking up pace.

Another thing that bothered me was Emma’s character, and what happened near the end of the book.  How could Colleen consider Emma to be a “best friend,” but then start to blame her for making everyone go batshit crazy?  It’s like Colleen thought Emma was behind everthing that was going on – I got tired of her describing Emma’s eyes as glowing red, and saying that her symptoms got worse when she was around her.  And what the hell was up with Emma’s mom approaching Colleen at the end?  Was the author trying to get us to wonder if her mom could be a witch?  I found this addition completely unecessary and annoying.  After being dragged through all those pages, the last thing I wanted to read was a cliff-hanger-y uncertainty that added nothing to the overall story.  This did not help further connect Colleen and Ann’s stories, sorry Ms. Howe.

Overall Rating

2 out of 5 – I was annoyed and disappointed with this book.  I had some pretty high expectations going in, but they didn’t ever pan out.  If you are looking for something with mystery, interesting characters, and an intriguing look at a bizarre disorder, don’t reach for this novel.

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