Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before – before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred.

Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren't speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too—nine-year-old Elizabeth Snow—and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.

In this edgy and compelling novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Format/Source: Paperback / Giveaway won from Fully Booked and Faye of The Social Potato (Big THANKS!)
Purchase linksFully Booked | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Book Depository
My Rating:  ★★★★☆

My Thoughts:
“Want to play?” This is the introductory sentence of the book. These were the three words that Nick heard often from Dara for most of their lives. My thoughts fly immediately to that “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” song from Disney’s Frozen. I don’t know about anybody else who have read Vanishing Girls but I find Nick to be a little like Elsa (older sister and cautious) and Dara to be a little like Anna (younger sister and spontaneous). The sisters in both stories were also super close and inseparable before an "accident". The story ends quite differently though.

Do you wanna build a snowman?
Let’s discuss the ending first because for me, the unfolding of the ending is vital for suspense-thrillers like Vanishing Girls. I felt a bit betrayed by the ending because I have seen what the real deal is a mile-stretch before the climax, but the author kept on brandishing lots of things to deny it. So I ignored my suspecting instincts and believed on the things brandished on my nose. When all is revealed upon reaching the last pages, I couldn't help but be ashamed of how gullible I am, while flipping back on certain chapters and reading them again on a different light. Honestly, I am utterly torn between loving and hating Vanishing Girls because of the ending.

As you might have guessed already, the central theme of the story is how sibling insecurities affect each other and the family. I can totally relate with this theme and the dynamics between Nick and Dara because I have experienced them first-hand. Like Nick, I also have a younger sister whom I am very much close to. She is also way more free-spirited and interesting than I am. Like Nick and Dara, we were close as kids but there was a time when we had a very serious rift (that started from a very petty thing). It’s just fortunate that we had a chance for a good long talk about it because I had no idea that she felt that I am more favored by our folks than her. Well, it’s a long process but I guess we both realized by now that we are equally loved albeit shown in different ways. Um okay, enough of me divulging family secrets because this might cause another row with my sister if I don’t shut up. For added measure, I’m crossing fingers that she does not get to read this post.

Aside from having being able to relate with the story, a lot of other things that I like about Vanishing Girls are:

  • The parallelisms between the two sets of sisters in the story: Nick and Dara (main plot) and Sarah and Madeline (subplot). One example is, in both set of sisters, one went missing. I am pretty sure this is where the title “Vanishing Girls” came from.

  • Teen romance that is aptly not over-the-top since it’s not the central theme of the story.

  • Grainy black and white pictures like the one below that eerily depicts some aspects of the story. Who doesn't love stories with pictures, right?
  • Awww!

  • Epistolary stuff that really contributed to the “realness” of the narrative: bits and pieces of Dara’s diary; which is a fictional online news site, complete with online commenters;, a fictional online teen mag which featured a tell-all from Madeline Snow’s sister, Sarah; a Tumblr account dedicated for finding Madeline Snow; a bunch of email correspondences from various characters.

  • Angsty quotes
  • 90% of the time, when you fall in love, somebody gets burned p.144
    Sometimes day and night reverse. Sometimes up goes down and down goes up, and love turns into hate, and the things you counted on get washed out from under your feet, leaving you pedaling in the air. p.225

Now before I end this post, I figured that I should give my verdict on whether I love or hate Vanishing Girls. Okay. Wait. Give me a minute. Let me decide. Annnd, I think...I LOVE IT! Forgiveness is the key for me loving it. I forgive you Lauren Oliver for that ending. I am letting go of my grudge for that betrayal because truthfully, aside from making a stupid out of me, the ending was beautifully masked and carefully built up.

So have you read Vanishing Girls yet? Link me up to your review, I'd love to stop by. You might also want to check out Faye's way more awesome review at The Social Potato.

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