By: Lauren Oliver
Published: March 3rd 2015 by HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--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.
DNF’d @ 25%
Let me start this DNF review by saying up front that I have been in a reading slump. February was a slow reading month for me, and March was too. So far, April has been better, but not off to the best start. I started reading Vanishing Girls in February. By February 9th I’d read roughly 12%. At this point, I just wasn’t “hooked” into the story so I put it aside for a while. I loved Delirium. I really enjoyed Before I Fall. But my other experiences with Lauren Oliver’s writing have all been mediocre. I wasn’t blown away with Pandemonium or Requiem, and my experience with Panic was that the idea for the story was better in theory than execution. So while I’ve really enjoyed some of Lauren Oliver’s past work, I’ve also had some experiences that were underwhelming as well. I wanted to like this book, and I don’t think my mood contributed too much to my initial impression of Vanishing Girls because I feel like this book is part of what started my reading slump rather than the slump really affecting my feelings toward the book.
I liked that the description of Vanishing Girls gave this book a more mysterious and suspenseful air than I normally read. And I really loved the letter from Lauren Oliver at the beginning of the copy I received discussing how this book was the first time she’d ever really explored the sibling dynamic. Having a sister myself I thought that this story might be one that I would be able to connect to easily.
That being said, April rolls around and I haven’t made much progress on Vanishing Girls, but I feel the pressure because it’s a review book and I'm already outside of 30 days of the publication date. I need to get this read and reviewed. So I decide to just try to force myself. I’ll do it 5 or 10% at a time if I have to. Read 5-10% in Vanishing Girls, if I’m still not feeling it then put it down and read something else. But the further I prodded along, the more frustrated I found myself.
Here are my issues. First of all, this story isn’t told chronologically. It’s flips to the past and back to the present and there are dates thrown in at chapter headings that I’m sure I was supposed to keep up with that were meaningful, but I couldn’t keep track. Though occasionally I’ll find a book that jumps around chronologically that I still enjoy, typically this is a source of frustration for me because I feel like I’m following one storyline only to get yanked from it and put into a different storyline.
Second, Vanishing Girls doesn’t only jump around chronologically, but it also swaps narrators. Normally multiple narrators aren’t an issue for me. I usually enjoy being able to get inside multiple heads and see the story from different angles (as long as there are too many narrators). But in this case it did. I didn’t enjoy Dara’s narrations which leads me into my next point.
Lauren Oliver said she delved deep into the sibling dynamic. Well that may be true, but so far all I saw was sibling rivalry (I’m sure this changes some as Nick seeks to find Dara, but I just couldn’t get there). Nick is what both sister would describe as being a good girl. She’s a rules follower. She worries about Dara because Dara’s well…not. And you can see that there’s some resentment on her side because Dara starts dating Nick’s best friend and various other issues. Dara is the wild sibling. She wears lots of makeup and skimpy clothes. She drinks. She swears. And she generally rebels when possible. Dara, of course, has resentment for Nick too because Nick is “the perfect” sister. I just didn’t enjoy this dynamic. While that’s authentic and real, it put me in a situation of really not liking Dara very much. Maybe because I relate more to Nick. But I just found myself resenting Dara as Nick does—especially since Nick had more narrations within the 25% that I read—which made reading Dara’s narrations even more painful/frustrating.
Also, the description mentions an accident that leaves Dara and Nick estranged. Apparently before the accident they did everything together—even though they are such different people and already had some resentment towards each other. So this accident is hinted at and mentioned, but even at 25% you don’t really have any information about what happened. I know that this was intended to build suspense and curiosity and get the reader interested and invested. But for me…it just didn’t. Because of the other frustrations I already mentioned, the things that were supposed to make me curious and want to dig deeper just ended up frustrating me and had me wanting to put this one down. Eventually, at 25% that’s what I decided to do.
So all in all, I feel like Vanishing Girls started my reading slump. I didn’t enjoy the jumps on chronology. Even though I typically like multiple narrations, I struggled with connecting to Dara’s character and therefore struggled through her narrations. And the events intended to create suspense only served to further my frustration. I truly hated to DNF this one because I’ve enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s writing in the past, but I can’t tell you the relief and the weight off my shoulders that I felt once I made the decision to do so. This just wasn't the book for me. Have you read Vanishing Girls? What did you think? Let me know!