Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver | Book Review

I am the sort of Lauren Oliver fan that if there was an announcement that she was writing a math textbook, I would preorder that textbook despite not really understanding math. In short, I am a Lauren Oliver fan girl. So, know that I do have certain biases. Vanishing Girls is Oliver’s latest addition to the young adult section. What I truly love about her books is that it’s never the same book repackaged with different character names and maybe a new setting. Instead, each book you get with Oliver is something different and new. I like that she’s willing to try writing so many different types of books and genres. Vanishing Girls is a contemporary mystery. It’s a book that you should certainly put on your to be read list if you enjoy suspenseful and thrilling reads.

Vanishing Girls is about two sisters – Nick and Dara. There was an accident in March, where Dara was seriously injured. Nick was driving. Dara refuses to speak with Nick. What this book does is go back and forth between Nick’s point of view and Dara’s point of view as well as in timeline – describing the time leading up to the accident and the time after the accident. Meanwhile there’s a few different plot threads going on. Nick is spending her summer working at this cheesy place called Fantasy Land, or FanLand for short. One of her coworkers is her childhood best friend, Parker, whom is the source of awkward feelings seeing as how he used to date Dara, thus ruining Nick’s friendship. Meanwhile, Dara and Nick’s mother and community is obsessed with the disappearance of a little girl named Madeline Snow. This girl’s disappearance is closely linked with the disappearance of a central character in Vanishing Girls. Oliver masterfully weaves the various plot threads into a read that blew my mind.

Nick is the older, more responsible sibling. She is a little bit plain and unassuming when compared to Dara. She’s also the one who has strong scholastic achievement and is really excellent at field hockey. Anyways, Nick has had a rough time since the accident because she desperately wants Dara to talk to her again and wants that closeness again, yet Dara is just so mad at her that she refuses any sort of contact. When I began Vanishing Girls, I thought that Nick was a bit boring compared to Dara. She comes across as a safe character who never leaves her comfort zone. However as with many books that I love, Nick begins to develop as a character and she becomes interesting. I can’t go into how, just know that I ended up feeling empathy and interest for her.

Dara is the younger sibling. She’s wild and sort of a rebel. She wears all kinds of garish clothing and makeup. She’s typically the center of attention and the life of the party. Dara has no qualms about drinking or doing drugs. She’s the type of person who consistently tests her limits. After the accident, she’s different. She is scarred and so she feels ugly. She stops going out and partying. She becomes sort of a recluse. Her friends really have nothing to do with her anymore either. Dara feels betrayed. Her chapters and diary entries are quite compelling. It’s fascinating to me, how Dara and Nick are jealous of each other and yet they are so incredibly different from each other. Dara feels like Nick can’t let her have anything that’s just her own and Nick feels overshadowed and pushed to the side by Dara.

If you are into books with unreliable narrators, I think you will really enjoy Vanishing Girls. This book is unreliable narration to a T. I won’t spoil you beyond that. Just know that the various plot threads all do weave together at the end to create what may as well be a literary mosaic. When the elements like Madeline Snow’s disappearance, Nick and Dara’s animosity towards each other, the divorce of their parents, Parker, and FanLand are viewed separately, it might not seem like they have anything to do with each other. Yet, when you get the whole picture and view it all at once, it becomes this excellent picture that artfully comes together.

I think that if you are the sort of person who hates big twists or feels betrayed by a twist, you might not love Vanishing Girls. However, if you are oblivious like me and forget even what the back cover mentions, you’re going to love Lauren Oliver’s latest book. For me, I was won over by the portrayal of two sisters and what exactly the bonds of sisterhood mean. I loved this book and it’s focus on family — especially a family that is as broken as Dara and Nick’s (also – this is another plot thread that is perfectly explained in the book).

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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