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.
Goodreads | Source: Finished copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest 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.
Did we even really get insight to the girls relationship? Or was it just the skewed pov of an unreliable narrator? The resolution for one of the characters was mostly off page. We're told what happened but don't get to see it so it seems like a rushed HFN, rather than a payoff to a complex story. All the outside twists took away from the more compelling story - Dara and Nick IMO.
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.