Book Review #23: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Please note before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Harper Collins. I received an advanced readers copy of this title from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion of this title influenced by the fact that I received this publication free of charge. Now on with the review!

Product details:
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: eBook
Length: 368 pages
Published: 2015
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Digital ARC from Edelweiss
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.New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Oh my goodness this novel. If I'm honest I find it hard to actually form a whole opinion on this book because I'm really not sure on how to rate it at all. I've read Panic by Lauren Oliver and that had a wide range of controversy for me on how to rate it as well.. I don't know what it is, I adore Lauren Oliver's writing style but I find her books so difficult at times. Anyway the premise of Vanishing Girls really intrigued me when I saw this advertised on Edelweiss I jumped at the chance, and luckily Harper Collins gave me access to this title! So what did I think?
Cover - I don't know what it is about Lauren Oliver books but why do the majority of them feature girl's face and long flowing hair? Yes Panic and Delirium series I'm looking at you. In terms of those other books I don't think it reflects very well the whole themes of the novels. That being said however the girl's appearance on the cover of Vanishing Girls is blurred and I think that blurred effect really reflects the themes well. There is an aspect of blurred lines in this novel, especially as the ending starts to play in. Blurred personalities for those who have read the book!
Plot - Right the plot for me was a big mix of different feelings. The first half of the novel definitely was just so slow in terms of pacing and in general the plot. It really at times just seemed to be an endless list of character traits. I mean in the beginning yes we learnt about the incident and the relationship between Dara and Nick's characters and just the angst that lay between them. To be fair I felt we got to see more of an insight into Nick's life than we did Dara's. Obviously this is later explained why this occurs. However, I have to say that after what seemed to be a long and tedious disaster of paragraphs, the second half of the novel really picked up and I did on numerous occasion have to try hard to put it down. To be fair it was put it down or miss my train so... The suspense that was weaving it's way quite nicely through the plot was just making me want to find out exactly what was happening! In terms of the plot, I felt that although the whole vanishing of Madeline Snow was really what held the individual and strong pieces of the plot together, I did feel that it felt slightly unnecessary as it didn't really add anything major to the story. Saying that, if we hadn't followed that path then perhaps we would not have come to the reveal as easily as Nick's character did. So lets talk about the ending, because in all seriousness I was sitting on the train and when I read it I sat there thinking 'What? Why would she do that, that doesn't make any sense Lauren Oliver.." I was even texting my girlfriend in a angry rant about how it didn't make sense that Dara should have died, how would you explain the whole chapters from her POV! Then I realised...
"...she began at interval's to inhabit the mind of her deceased sister, patching together a narrative based on various shared memories and her intimate knowledge of her sister's behaviour, personality, physicality and preferences..."
So the entire time we were reading from a single POV? Mind. Blown. 
Characters - Okay I am going to discuss the characters as individuals because I think especially for Dara and Nick that's the best way I can approach it. Lets start with Dara because I think I have the most to say about her. Dara's character for me was an extremely arrogant and unreliable character and I found myself really disliking reading her POV chapters. So much so that I would get really angsty about the way Nick was portraying her. I guess that makes sense huh. She seemed to me that her character was just a embodiment of what I would literally describe angst to be, that perfect balance between being angry and annoyed. Some might see angst however as just pure and uncontrollable rage. Your choice. Dara just seemed to lack sustenance in her character which didn't make her very believable for me, I constantly felt throughout that she was just really badly written in terms of her actions and the way she approached situations. The only real chapter that I appreciated her was the final chapter of hers in the lighthouse. That was the only time I felt any depth to her character at all and realistically it was right before we heard she died. Nick on the other hand for me was a fully fledged character and this was really reflected in the way that she was written. Even as simple as Lauren Oliver writing her in a job that she was forced into and her reactions to that made it realistic and I really appreciated that. It was nice to see Nick's progression as well from the beginning of the novel as she gradually comes to terms with what has happened. What I really did appreciate was the bleeding effect that Lauren Oliver allowed in the writing of her charaters. It's never overwhelming or too much for the reader, each character's voices are distinctive yet are the same when they need to be. A wonderful illustration of what it is really like to be family, to share that sibling bond. In terms of the side characters there isn't much really that I can add that would benefit this review that much. The story was based around the relationship between the two main characters so it makes sense to focus on them. In relation to the side characters however, they were a refreshing read and I really enjoyed reading scenes with them. They added a lot of depth to the novel which at times I felt it definitely was in need of.

Layout - I just want to briefly mention this because in the advance reader copy I was given for my kindle, the dates were a little screwed up so this kind of confused me a bit. This meant I had to do a re-read through of certain chapters and constantly flip back to find out when in fact the chapter was set due to the POV's being set before the accident and after the accident. This was a big issue for me but obviously as this will be rectified in the physical proofs and finalised editions I can't really hold it against the book itself. I also really like the pictures that are going to be dotted around the novel. Obviously in the digital proof these pages were blank but I'm looking forward to seeing how they will enhance the story because I think it will do that beautifully. Adding personal touches to the story, nice.

So what did I think overall? Well I did enjoy the story even though it did have a reasonably slow start and I feel that some of the bits selected for the main story ark were a tad unnecessary but I did really enjoy what I read. At first I rated this a 2 stars purely because the final few chapters really messed with my head, especially when it came to Dara's chapter and people were screaming for Nick to run. However after re-reading that section over and over my brain finally put the pieces together, and I have to admit that it was done pretty superbly, it definitely gives of a We Were Liars kind of vibe to it, although this is no We Were Liars. If you're looking for something with that little edge to it you should definitely check that out. Overall however I award Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver a 3 star rating, I am definitely glad that I decided to read something else of hers after struggling with Panic and I think I will be moving onto Rooms by her, it seems to have a unique concept, so look out for that in the future!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. When Parker said "Nick" and she said you said my sister's name and he was like what I'm sure I said you're name... That hit me all of a sudden... because he was talking to Nick but Nick thought she was Dara at the time...... CRAZY.


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