For What It's Worth

Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver



22465597New 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.

Goodreads | Source: Finished copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review:
This was my first Lauren Oliver book and I can see why she's such a popular author. The writing was raw and beautiful.

Sisters Dara and Nick have a fascinating relationship that showed how the intensity of that dynamic can shift from love to hate so easily.

The complicated romantic ties to their childhood friend, Parker, start to tear them apart but served as more of a catalyst for events rather than a sisterly love triangle and didn't overwhelm the story which I liked.

Since Vanishing Girls is labeled a “psychological thriller”, I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying there are twists.

While Oliver does a great job throwing you off course at first, using varying techniques; pov and time shifts, photographs, online articles (with comments), multiple story arcs - she practically bludgeons you with the truth in one particular chapter which was a bit disappointing. I’m really good at guessing twists but I was happily befuddled at first. Once I guessed one of the bigger twists, it took some steam and tension out of the story.

While the sisters relationship and accident are front and center, the search for a missing girl and it’s potential link to Dara tie the two together. That particular plot line felt forced. As if Oliver needed a way to explain Dara’s actions to lead the reader to the big reveal.

In the end there were things that although twisty – felt predictable & manipulative. (see hidden spoilers below) Yet, when I finished this book, it stayed with me and I kept changing my mind about how I felt. That is so rare for me these days that I have to give Vanishing Girls a thumbs up just based on that.



For me, Oliver could have dispensed with all of the twists, and I would have been completely satisfied with the dissection of Darla and Nick’s relationship and fallout. Like most families - theirs was messy and sometimes hurtful. They were so different, so angry, yet shared an unbreakable bond.

This book isn't going to be for everyone (which I can see by the all over the place Goodreads reviews). If you are a fan of unreliable narrators and plot twists in the vain of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, then you will probably enjoy this one.

Despite not loving how all the twists panned out, I enjoyed Lauren Oliver's writing and the complicated character dynamics.

23 comments:

  1. Aaaand I read the spoiler, I just can't help myself

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    1. I didn't reveal *THE TWIST* so you're still good lol

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  2. I'm still deciding whether I should read this one or not .. The concept and writing sound wonderful though. <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    2. I really loved the writing. I think enjoyment of the story depends on if you like those kinds of twisty books. I know some people never guess a thing and LOVE it and others feel manipulated.

      Here is my friends positive review for VG: http://www.fictitiousdelicious.com/2015/03/book-review-vanishing-girls-by-lauren.html

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  3. I had seriously mixed feelings -- as you know -- but I'd definitely recommend that people try it for themselves and see!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I kind of liked the fact that even though I didn't 100% love it - I still enjoyed aspects of it and that it kept me thinking long after finishing it. There aren't many books that leave me feeling that way.

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  4. I'm mixed, too! Like you, I thought the writing was terrific (it's Lauren Oliver, heeeey), but I couldn't really accept the twist/ending/resolution. And yet I think there are people who will love it, and I can see why. I could have accepted it more easily if (SPOILER ALERT, sort of) she wasn't acting in her sister's place, to the point of journal entries and such, if you see what I mean. I dunno, I don't have the brainpower to dissect at this moment, but I was left strangely torn and dissatisfied, too. But onto the next Oliver--she's always delivering surprises.

    Did you read ROOMS, her first adult novel? I actually quite liked that.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. When I first read the twist I was a little angry about it but then I kind of felt it made sense in a way. I just feel manipulated and tricked SPOILER SOILER by the extent she took the diversion. It also made the whole *relationship* fall through because of *reasons* lol You know what I mean. SPOILER END.

      But then again - I loved how it made me think and rethink my position on a lot of things that happened.

      This is really a depends on the reader kind of book and I would still recommend it because of the writing.

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  6. Hmmm. I do love a good psychological thriller now and again. I've seen hers but not tried them yet. I'll have to give a look next library run and see if they have any :D

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    1. This was my first book by her but the writing is wonderful.

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  7. I'm so so happy I snagged a copy last minute before they archived the arc! I will be reading this soon. This will be my first Oliver book too and I like raw and beautiful. Thanks for the wonderful review, Karen, excited to read this next week!

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    1. Do let me know what you think!!

      Even with the problems I had it was a fascinating story.

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  8. I would read it for the well placed twists! This does sound interesting and I also love a book that keeps you thinking (in a good way.... LOL) long after it is over. Yea, I do want to read this one.

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    1. I hope you do! It's one of those books that really has readers split. But I think that's good sometimes ya know?

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  9. I don't think I've read anything by her either. I think I would like to try this.

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    1. I think you would like her writing. I hear Rooms is good too but I haven't read it.

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  10. I love this author and can't wait to read this one...and I am trying sooo hard to resist that spoiler!! lol

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    1. What is your favorite book by her? This is the only one I've read.

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  11. This is Oliver's first book in mystery right? I hope she leaves more mystery in her future novels. Her writing is beautiful, but I like to play the guessing game as well.

    I love unreliable narrators so I definitely need to check this one out!

    This was your first Oliver book Karen? I definitely recommend Before I Fall. It was the book that got me into YA, and I basically cried for days.

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    1. I think I have Before I Fall.

      I think it's her first mystery. I'm not sure what Rooms is about though. But that's adult.

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