Monday, March 16, 2015

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Release Date - March 10, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Vanishing Girls is more than what you might expect at first glance. It is both a look at the bonds that tie sisters together and an exploration on how girls can disappear and the various ways they can vanish. A novel filled with secrets, half truths, and lies.

Fans of Lauren Oliver's prose will be delighted to hear that her writing is just as sharp and lyrical as ever. It's one of the stand out elements of this story and used effectively to create a strong tone and atmosphere. Her writing is what makes you want to continue turning the pages, as there is an effortlessness to the way she spins the story and captivates.

The novel weaves together various storylines involving different girls who have vanished. Some are mentioned in passing, others are centre stage with the spotlighting shining on them. The novel focuses more on the people left behind for the sake of the mystery. While this element works, and is intriguing, I felt it it made the story itself not as developed as it could have been. The various storylines do weave together wonderfully to create a cohesive story, even when they do not directly impact each other. They mystery itself, and it's outcome, are not new and this is a story that's been told before. Lauren Oliver adeptly puts her own spin on it, and even if you see all the twists coming, it's still an enjoyable journey to the finish line.

This novel works better in the character department, than in the other areas. They are well crafted and arresting. They immediately grab your attention. The bonds of friendship, romance, and family between them read as honest and true. It's the other side of the story that didn't quite work for me as well. The mystery, sadly, didn't quite come together for me. It's one that I am sure others will enjoy, but it did not pull me in, or mesmerize me the way I wanted it to. As a result, I found it didn't hold up as well when examined. I appreciated the way it was crafted and written however, which still allowed me to enjoy the story. A writer with less skill may not have pulled it off quite as well as Lauren does.

The aspect of the story that Lauren Oliver truly gets pitch perfect is the sisterly bond between Dara and Nick. Their relationship seemed effortless and nuanced. The bond between siblings is one that is an unusual mix. You torment each other mercilessly and yet you'd defend each other until the end. It's a mix of love, anger, support, competition, loyalty and trust. Lauren Oliver captures all of this in her characters. The minor (and sometimes major) flights, the complete and utter willingness to do anything to protect the other person, and the ache of becoming distant from them. This is a novel that isn't about the mystery or the sides stories. This is a novel about the bonds of sisterhood and in that aspect Lauren has succeeded.

This was a novel that delighted me in some aspects, and left me indifferent in others, but in the end was an enjoyable read. Those looking for Lauren Oliver's trademark writing, and compelling characters will certainly finish the novel satisfied. However, those looking for the other elements promised in the synopsis may not feel the same despite the creepy nature of the secrets that unravel. 

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