Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren OliverVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Published by Harper Collins on March 10, 2015
Pages: 368
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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.

I received this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

Vanishing Girls is my first experience reading Lauren Oliver. I know most people reviewing this title are familiar with her Delirium series. I’m not sure whether coming to her with fresh eyes is an advantage or a disadvantage. In one respect, it’s an advantage because I read with no preconceived notions. In another respect, I wasn’t anticipating it like other readers because I had no earlier experience reading her books. This means she had less of an opportunity to let me down. In any case, here’s what I can tell you about my experience: I really enjoyed it. Oliver has a beautiful writing style. Here’s an excerpt:

“Sometimes people stop loving you. And that’s the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again, filling the sky with a weak approximation of light.”

Vanishing Girls tells the story of two sisters whose fierce love for one another cannot protect them from the heartache, the jealousy, and all the other dirty feelings that come with life. For Nick, this means grappling with guilt and pain and love and loyalty all at once. Both she and Dara feel misunderstood and cope with those issues in different ways. Nick is always reliable and always responsible. Dara is an appropriate counter for Nick because she’s reckless. But they are two sides of the same coin. They’re sisters. Their love for each other is supposed to transcend even the most wretched life circumstances. What I love about Oliver is that she takes such a ubiquitous theme and turns it on its head.

The narrative is well-written, fast paced, and thrilling. I saw the twist coming, but only a second before it actually happened. And though it was shocking, it didn’t feel completely contrived. She left us hints throughout, but they were only the kind of hints that you can see once you know the truth. I think it takes skill to pull that off. JK Rowling is the master at it. Though, not as masterful, Oliver still hits the right marks.

Overall, I can recommend Vanishing Girls to those who love a thriller that can make you feel like there is danger lurking around every corner. The book’s atmosphere is suburban creepy mixed with teen angst. Though I can’t say it’s a must read for Oliver fans because I haven’t read her other work, I can say that it’s a must read for fans of good YA thrillers.


© 2015 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.