So I just finished Lauren Oliver’s Vanishing Girls and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, the book is incredibly well thought-out, organized, and very tightly written. On the other hand, I didn’t necessarily need to finish the entire book to know how things would turn out in the end, as you sort of get the gist of that after a dozen or so pages. The surprise ending just isn’t that surprising.
The book is basically what The Sixth Sense would look like if Lauren Oliver wrote it. It follows a very well worn path that many psychological thrillers have gone down before. It’s like the author is betting that this will be her audience’s first exposure to this sort of twist… not sure about that one. To me, reading this book was kind of like hearing your favorite band cover a song you don’t really care for.
For better or worse, I found myself putting the obviousness of the plot aside and still enjoying the book because I appreciate Oliver’s talent as a writer and the way she brings her characters to life. The relationship between sisters and main characters Nick and Dara is quite compelling and well constructed. There are a few other gems.
Nick works at an amusement park called FanLand. The dynamic between the crew at the park feels a lot like the movie Adventure Land and provides the perfect platform for character development. I definitely cherished every FanLand section of the book and felt like I was there.
The drama hit home and was more everyday teen than the stuff I’ve been reading lately. I appreciated that the characters or their issues aren’t over-sensationalized and that Parker, the girls’ neighbor and love interest, is just a regular guy and not a secretly famous musician.
The book is weird but so well written that it could easily stand on its own sans the totally telegraphed plot twist. That said, Lauren Oliver writes with plot twists so you sort of know what you’re getting when you pick it up.
I was hoping for Panic (My favorite book of hers). Vanishing Girls has its moments, but it is most definitely not Panic. It’s also not Before I Fall.
So if you find it difficult to read a novel where the end is obvious from, well, the beginning, then you’ll probably have to dig deep to finish this one.
For purchase below.