Vanishing Girls: A Book Review

Posted April 4, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews, Events / 3 Comments

Vanishing Girls: A Book ReviewVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Also by this author: Delirium, Before I Fall
Published by HarperCollins on March 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, YA
Pages: 357
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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’ve had a hard time figuring out how I feel about this book because the end through me for quite the loop. But I’ll get back to that later.

First, I have to talk about the event I went to for this book. Lauren Oliver came to Salt Lake City (which is like 45 minutes from where I live) and I got to meet her! It was so exciting. She was the first author of books I really care about that I’ve ever met. First she spoke about her life and how she became a writer. It was really inspiring. See my March in Review post to read a little more about it, but here are some pictures:


MOVING ON. Okay. The book. My feelings. Bah. I don’t know how to process everything that happened because I did not expect it. Like at all. The end made me question literally everything I had just read, all 357 pages. If I had time, I would go back and reread it just to see how it works. [Sidenote: I really wish I didn’t have to worry about spoilers right now].

But the writing I thought was beautiful. Lauren Oliver has a really wonderful writing style that I fall in love with every time I read one of her books. Just listen to this small snippet of the preface:

The funny thing about almost-dying is that afterward everyone expects you to jump on the happy train and take time to chase butterflies through grassy fields or see rainbows in puddles of oil on the highway. It’s a miracle, they’ll say with an expectant look, as if you’ve been given a big old gift and you better not disappoint Grandma by pulling a face when you unwrap the box and find a lumpy, misshapen sweater.

That’s what life is, pretty much: full of holes and tangles and ways to get stuck. Uncomfortable and itchy. A present you never asked for, never wanted, never chose. A present you’re supposed to be excited to wear, day after day, even when you’d rather stay in bed and do nothing.

The truth is this: it doesn’t take any skill to almost-die, or to almost-live, either.

She has such a beautiful grasp of the English language that it enchants me. Her writing brings me in and that’s the real reason why I love her so much.

Besides the writing, though, this story was very different from Oliver’s other books. It was more of a mystery, kind of a thriller that explores the complicated relationship between sisters. I gave it 3.5 stars, though, because I felt like the “thriller” sense of the writing built up, and up, and up…and then it didn’t end with the exciting climax that I expected. Some of the things that could have been great, just…weren’t all the way there. The ending was just so, so, SO different than anyone would have expected. And not in a boring way…just not in a completely satisfying way. If that makes sense (I told you that I was having a hard time processing how I feel). And the ending happened so fast that I felt like I needed more. Some things were just summed up very quickly and then skimmed over. Like Boom-Unexpected-Thing then quick summary and then The End all within like twenty minutes of reading-time. My brain just can’t process things like that. Bah.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, the ending is usually my favorite part of a book. It can make or break it. And that’s why I’m focusing so much on this ending. In my opinion, while the ending didn’t break the book, it in no way made it better. Sure, it was surprising. It was unpredictable. But it made me question the entire book, the entire sister-relationship between Nick and Dara. And maybe that was Oliver’s intention? Who knows?

Honestly, I still don’t really know exactly how I feel. I definitely recommend this book to you, though…Mostly because I want to talk to you about it without fear of spoilersEspecially if you’re a Lauren Oliver fan.

I want to know what you think! If you’ve already read it, did you like it or did the ending trip you up too? If you haven’t read it, are you planning to? 


  • Jessica Samuelsen

    I’m very interested in reading this book. Thanks for the review.

    • You definitely should. Did you like her other books?

  • I’m a huge Lauren Oliver fan so I’ve been wanting to pick this one up when it first came out. I’m super jealous that you got to meet her; she’s not come anywhere around where I live sadly. I’m sorry that you don’t exactly know how you feel-that can either be really good or really bad! I’ll have to buy a copy and read it and then maybe we can discuss.

    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian