Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

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.

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Lauren Oliver’s new novel explores the relationship between sisters who are torn apart by a horrific car accident. The story alternates not only between Nick and Dara but between Before and After the accident which unfortunately makes the story a little fragmented. While the timeline is a little difficult to keep straight, Oliver has created unique voices for each of the girls with subtle overlaps adding to the narrative of their close relationship growing up together thick as thieves. The third musketeer to round out the trio is Parker, the girls’ life long neighbor and best friend. As we learn about Nick and Dara (and Parker) and their evolving relationship before the accident and their estranged relationship post-accident, the disappearance of a young girl named Madeline Snow looms in the background.

I liked Vanishing Girls – I didn’t love it and I’m not sure I can exactly pinpoint why. I liked that the story was interspersed with newspaper articles, emails and Dara’s diary entries. I felt like the story was a little slow, based on the back cover I expected Dara to disappear much earlier in the novel and Madeline’s connection to become clearer sooner. I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle (I rarely am) especially between siblings.

Overall, Vanishing Girls is interesting read. I read it mostly in two sittings torn between wanting to know what would happen next in present time and what happened in the past leading up to the accident. I have a feeling Vanishing Girls will be marketed as the next We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Lockhart is the cover quote after all). I think this sort of comparison does the newer novel a disservice → Liars ends with a serious twist and now the publisher/reviewer/whomever is creating a semi-spoiler by making the comparison. I went into Vanishing Girls, just like We Were Liars, knowing nothing about the novel beyond the back cover. I think it makes for a much more enjoyable reading experience, a slower build to the climax as I wasn’t looking around every corner to solve the mystery.

Now by even saying this I feel like I have become part of the problem I am describing and take ownership of that (boo/hiss/rude on me). Here’s a link to the newest podcast from BookRiot ‘Do Spoilers Matter‘ that I just finished which discusses the idea of spoilers in further detail. That said, I hope you enjoy Vanishing Girls and the mystery behind the intertwined lives of Nick and Dara.

I received an ARC of Vanishing Girls from the Not-So-YA book club in Decatur, GA. Vanishing Girls is on sale March 15th, 2015.

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