Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls
By Lauren Oliver
HarperCollins, 2015
Reviewed from hardcover
Audience: High School
ISBN:  9780062224101
Publication Date:  March 10, 2015

Sisters Dara and Nick have a typical love/annoyed relationship.  Dara is the good girl, constantly trying to keep daring Nick in line, but one night, things seem to go too far.  That night there is an accident and time is now divided into before and after.  Their relationship is further complicated by Parker, their neighbor and childhood friend who has dated Nick and might have feelings for Dara too. This summer, Dara becomes closer to Parker, while also trying to understand why Nick is hiding from her.  The whole book crashes to a conclusion as Nick goes missing and Dara struggles to find her.  

This is a book about sisters, secrets, and forgiveness.  

Vanishing Girls is the kind of book that you race through.  Not only does Oliver have a beautiful writing style, but she also writes a very tightly wound plot.  A friend gave me this book for my birthday and I read it in a week, a rare and precious thing since having Ali.  I'd seen it advertised here and there, but didn't pick it up for myself because I'm on the fence about Oliver as an author.  She writes so perfectly, yet her overall plots are sometimes lacking.  I wasn't a fan of the Delirium series (too trite for my taste.  Love is an affliction, but it's the only way to save the world), and The Spindlers didn't do justice to changelings in my opinion.  But I loved Liesl and Po, so when I got this book for my birthday I went for it.  

My feelings are still mixed.  

The main blurb for this book came from E. Lockart, author of We Were Liars.  

"Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on." -- E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.   Quoted from Goodreads.

Like We Were Liars, the ending is a major reveal.  Unlike We Were Liars, it felt a little too forced.  The plot is barely contained toward the end of the novel, so you are breathless at the end, and you need a day or so to think about what you just read.  And the more you think about, the more disappointed you become.  When I thought about We Were Liars, I just felt stupid that I didn't see it sooner.  With Vanishing Girls, it was more like a feeling of being let down.  Like it was easy.  And the whole subplot of missing Madeline Snow was just too contrived for my taste-the parallels of a missing Nick and missing Madeline were too forced.

So my relationship with Lauren Oliver continues to be a complicated one.  To me, her masterpiece is Liesl and Po, and which was a book that she wrote from the heart while in a very dark place.  Everything else employs the same perfect prose and heart stopping talent for language, but it just lacks in strong plot.

Do you agree?  What were your thoughts on Vanishing Girls?  Let me know!

Happy Reading!

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