A good book, sure. But kind of a disappointment based on the expectations I had going in. Just think “the off brand version of We Were Liars“.
This is a spoiler free review!
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.
In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.
“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.
First off, I do not understand why anyone would call this book a “thriller”. The pacing was sooooo slow at the beginning, and it didn’t really feel even close to a thriller until the very end. Most of the book just felt like buildup to the very last few pages, instead of a story of its own. It was more like a reaaaaally long prologue than a story. I went in expecting and edge of your seat, heart racing, maybe a little creepy kind of book. But that’s not what it was. And I feel like that’s what causes a lot of my disappointment about this one. It was made out to be something that it’s not.
The plot twist at the end was really confusing, too. It’s hard to discuss without spoiling it, so I’m just going to stick with saying that it didn’t makes sense. Over the several pages during which it was explained, I was totally lost and had no idea what was going on. It totally erased what happened over the last several hundred pages- even more so than We Were Liars did- and didn’t accomplish much aside from leaving me feeling confused and lost.
But on to the things that I did like.
I really enjoyed the little letters, news articles, and stuff. I love epistolary novels!! Diaries, letters, websites, I don’t care. Just give me more epistolary novels. And, while Vanishing Girls wasn’t exactly an epistolary novel, it did have some epistolary bits that I really enjoyed.
The relationship between Dara and Nick was also really cool. They were so different, but also so alike, and I really enjoyed that. They were really well fleshed out. The secondary characters left quite a bit to be desired (I want to know more about their mom!) but Dara and Nick at least were interesting, flawed characters. They were both far from perfect, but I still felt really sympathetic for them- and I can say from experience that writing characters like that is definitely not easy! The two of them felt like such cliches at first- Dara was the bad girl and Nick was the good girl. But there was really so much more to it than that.
So, I mean, in the end, I feel like I would have liked this book waaaay better if I had just expected something different. Read this book. It’s good- not amazing, but good. It has its problems, and the ending is kind of weird when compared to the rest of the story. So don’t go in looking for an “alarming and uplifting psychological thriller”. Look for a slow moving story about two sisters and their journey to forgive each other.
Three stars out of five. Read it before you read We Were Liars and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.