Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult | Mystery | Contemporary
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
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 (goodreads).
Lauren Oliver's writing continues to impress, but the execution could have used some clean up.
Plot: Nick and Dara are sisters who go their separate ways as they get older. Their relationship is even more strained from a car accident Nick gets into, which badly scars Dara. As expected, Oliver's writing is beautiful, but sometimes over the top. Because of Lauren Oliver, I now officially know what everything in this town smells like. Seriously, she loves describing smells. Besides that, some of the plot is unbelievable. From the synopsis, we understand that a little girl has gone missing and the town is rattled because of it. How Nick and Dara relate to little Madeline Snow is unrealistic and I found myself questioning Nick's thought process. Most of the conclusions that she came to were extremely convenient and were just because Oliver wanted to move the story along.
Characters: The best way to describe Nick and Dara is that they both float around. They are experts at avoiding each other and they seem to float from scene to scene within the town. Vanishing Girl's strength comes from its non-linear storyline in which we get diary entries from before the accident that demonstrate how Nick and Dara got to be where they are. It was especially interesting to see how their parents fell apart as well.
Worldbuilding: Nick returns home after her summer with her dad and her hometown definitely has that "small town in the summer" feel. I really liked how Oliver described Nick's place of employment at the local amusement park; I felt the heat of the sun and could visualize groups of kids running around rickety rides. In terms of diversity, it was severely lacking.
Short and Sweet: Vanishing Girls tries a bit too hard to be thought-provoking, but it's a fun ride.