Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vanishing Girls

Sisters Dara and Nick used to be the best of friends. They were born less than a year apart so they did and experienced everything together including their parents' divorce. Parker completed their trio and was also close with them since childhood. Then they got older and things got weird. Attractions formed; moments were awkward; and Parker ended up dating Dara, much to Nick's chagrin. Then the accident happened. The details are fuzzy, but Dara wasn't wearing a seatbelt while Nick lost control of her car. Dara is now scarred physically and emotionally while completely separating herself from her friends and family. Nick doesn't know how to mend their relationship and makes big plans for Dara's birthday, but Dara disappears. This is shortly after another girl disappeared and is still missing. Nick is convinced the two disappearances are related and she's determined to save her sister.

With every Lauren Oliver book, I can guarantee that I will read the book quickly and be sucked immediately into the story. She just writes interesting characters that I may not like, but I need to know what happens to them. I like and can relate to Nick. She's the more sensible of the two sisters and always feels the need to save Dara from herself. Nick is the one who is reliable, the "good" sister, and is hardly ever in trouble. Dara, on the other hand, is constantly going to parties, getting high or drunk, blacking out, and generally being irresponsible. Dara annoyed the crap out of me because she was so desperate for attention, but she still had my sympathy. No one deserves what happened to her and it's shame that she cut herself off from everyone. She seems to realize how destructive her behavior was and learned from her mistakes. Both girls envy each other, but create a front to protect themselves. They also have a toxic, codependent relationship where Nick constantly takes care of Dara and doesn't let her solve her own problems or learn from her own mistakes. The book alternates between Dara and Nick's point of view both before and after the accident with website articles with comments, diary entries, letters, and e-mails interspersed between them. I love when authors include writing outside of the main characters because it provides a more complete picture of what's going on and makes it feel real. The subplot with the missing girl and that associated craziness felt surprisingly Twin Peaks without the supernatural stuff.

Despite the well written characters and twists and turns in the plot, this is my least favorite Lauren Oliver book. There is game changing twist at the end. I don't have a problem with the twist itself, but it felt dishonest. I understand that narrators can be unreliable but I guessed at the twist early on and dismissed it. I felt deliberately misled and kind of cheated. I prefer The Sixth Sense style twist where everything is consistent and it totally blows your mind on subsequent viewings over the High Tension style twist that has a lot of inconsistencies. This was more like the latter. I still enjoy Lauren Oliver, but Vanishing Girls just didn't live up to my expectations.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

No comments: