Vanishing Girls was written by Lauren Oliver and published in 2015. I loved Oliver’s Before I Fall and I also enjoyed Delirium (although, I didn’t finish that series and I’m not sure why) so I was really excited to find this one at Half Price Books. Billed as a YA-psychological thriller, let us begin…
Vanishing Girls is the story of sisters Nick and Dara. Nick is the older sister and typically so; responsible, reliable and watches over younger sister Dara. Dara is the beautiful, wild child – popular, fun, daring, she is the girl that everyone loves. Though they are very different personalities, Nick and Dara are best friends and they do everything together – or they used to, before Dara started hooking up with their best friend and before the sisters were in a terrible car accident that left Dara scarred and broken.
The novel is set up with a Before and After structure, Before the sisters’ accident and After. Before the accident, Nick and Dara really are inseparable, but I enjoyed that were also normal sisters who will simultaneously annoy the crap out of each other and protect each other. After the accident, Nick and Dara are no longer speaking to each other. We know that something happened the night of the accident and that the sisters had a fight but Nick is our primary narrator and her memory of the night is spotty, so we don’t know what actually happened between them. After the accident, much of the movement in the story is related to the disappearance of a young girl in town. Nick and Dara are both separately intrigued by the case and the whole town is consumed with trying to find the girl. Things take a turn when Dara also goes missing – Nick knows that Dara is in trouble and that the two cases are related. After Dara goes missing, Nick scrambles to save her. In Dara’s room she finds provocative pictures of her sister and she finds threatening texts on Dara’s phone from a mystery man. Nick knows that Dara had a wild streak but this is dangerous – and how does it relate to a missing 10-year old?
This is a hard book to summarize plot-wise because to reveal too much would spoil the twist. That said, even with the twist, I just didn’t really get into this book. There was a lot that happened and lot of detail that I wasn’t particularly interested in. I found myself skimming multiple pages at a time to get to the relevant parts. Like I said, I enjoyed Nick and Dara’s Before relationship wherein they were best friends but also very much sisters but I had a hard time with Nick’s version of “protecting” Dara. For instance, when Dara starts using drugs, Nick covers for her rather with their parents rather than working with the adults to stop Dara from harming herself. Which I know that is a very appropriately-teenaged response and its probably my age showing but I was just like, Errgghh, BE SMARTER!
I think this book will appeal more to high-schoolers and that this is one of those instances where I’m just too old for this particular YA novel. But for a book that is supposed to be psychologically thrilling, I was kind of bored. And as for the big twist, while it is unique and will surprise some readers, I didn’t feel like it was explained all that well. There are some who will compare Vanishing Girls with E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. I know that people generally have strong feelings one way or the other with We Were Liars but however you felt about that book, I feel like Lockhart succeeded more with the concept than Oliver did with Vanishing Girls.
Have you read Vanishing Girls? What did you think?