Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: March 10th, 2015
Hardcover, 357 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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. 

Lauren Oliver has a way with words. I would read her grocery list and she forever keeps me guessing. Since the beginning, I haven't been able to predict the endings of her books. They are never easy, they are never an escape and they rarely have the kind of happily ever after I strive for. She has a thing for ghosts and unhappy families, and Vanishing Girls took everything I've learned about her writing and pulled me into so many opposite directions that there was no way for me to know how it would end. Sisters Dara and Nick were the best of friends until an accident scarred Dara's face. Dara hides out in her room now as Nick tries to continue on with life, getting a summer job at the local amusement park. But when a young girl goes missing in town and suddenly Dara is gone on her birthday, Nick knows there must be a connection between the two and she won't stop until she finds her sister.

This is a novel about moving on. The accident left everything in ruins and neither sister is brave enough to do something to make it better. It starts out slow, like a contemporary novel just about two sisters trying to move on from a terrible accident. Told in both Dara and Nick's point of views, in both the present and the past, we get to see how the sisters used to be and what's going on in each of their heads now that things are different. Dara is the reckless sister, the one that puts on too much makeup and goes out to party late at night. Nick is the older, more responsible sister. She is calm in the face of panic and ready to go after Dara and bring her home. Then there's Parker, the boy who comes between the two sisters. But once Dara disappears, this quickly becomes a mystery book, where the ending is unknown and suddenly all the problems these sisters had didn't matter. Dara has let clues to help Nick find her, and the more digging Nick does, the deeper she gets into what Dara was really involved in. I loved that Nick worked at Fanland, a somewhat normal part of her life that gave her something to focus on instead of Dara. I liked that it brought her closer to Parker, their friendship not quite how it was since he got involved with Dara. And I especially loved that everything I thought was true was wrong and there was no telling how everything would end when or if Nick ever found Dara.

Oliver is a trickster and everything leading up to that ending couldn't have prepared me for it. It was fast, crazy and completely unpredictable and I must say this is the most she's surprised me yet. Her writing still amazes me and the relationship she built between Nick and Dara will stay me long after I've closed this book. I can't wait to see what she'll have in store for us next.

"Funny how things can stay the same forever and then change so quickly."

"Sometimes people stop loving you. And that's the kind of darkness that never gets fixed."

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