Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

I became a Lauren Oliver fan in the past few years after reading Before I Fall and Panic (I still have yet to tackle her Delirium trilogy), and was intrigued when I read the description of her latest YA novel:

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred. Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren't speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too--nine-year-old Madeline Snow--and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked. 

In this edgy and compelling novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

One of the things I love about Oliver is that she's not afraid to tackle dark and edgy topics in her novels--these are the things I'm usually drawn to when reading YA. Her writing style is also very literary, and in this book, she perfectly captures the complicated relationship between the two sisters. You can get an idea of the tone of the novel by reading this excerpt from back of the book:

This is it: somehow, in these pictures, the mystery of the accident is contained, and the explanation for Dara's subsequent behavior, for the silences and disappearances. Don't ask me how I know, I just do. If you don't understand that, I guess you've never had a sister.

The opening pages quickly draw the reader in, and the story is told in from the point of view of both sisters "before" and "after" the car accident. Layered into the opening is the disappearance of local girl, Madeline Snow, and the story unfolds with a combination of the narratives from Nick and Dara, diary entries, blog posts, text messages, and newspaper articles, which keep the mystery intriguing and the reader guessing. The love triangle between Nick, Dara, and Parker was heartbreaking. I also liked the use of an old amusement park as part of the setting, because through Oliver's descriptions it seemed to take on a life of its own--fun, hot, and smelling like funnel cakes during the day, and isolated, haunting, and foreboding at night.

I did not guess how this book would end, but that's all I'm going to say, because you should definitely check it out for yourself.

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