By: Melanie | March 14, 2015 | (59) Comments

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren OliverVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Pages: 368
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I have a very rocky relationship with Oliver’s books. While she caught my heart with Before I Fall, Panic and the later books in her Delirium trilogy did not have me impressed. So I went into Vanishing Girls very much cautiously, and I ended up getting exactly what I was hoping for.

Sometimes day and night reverse. Sometimes up goes down and down goes up, and love turns into hate, and things you counted on get washed out from under your feet, leaving you pedalling in the air.

While Vanishing Girls might just seem like your generic tale of two sisters at a glance, you can trust Oliver to whip out something that is just so much more underneath the surface. While the central story-line is about the love between two siblings and how it slowly twisted into jealousy and loathing, there’s also a nine-year old girl who goes missing in the midst of it all, and soon you discover that these two story-lines have more in common than meets the eye.

Vanishing Girls comes to life at Oliver’s writing. No one can deny – Oliver has some real skills when it comes to putting gorgeous words onto the page. They definitely hold a poetic quality, and you can really tell by the quotes I’ve scattered across this review. Sure, her words a really simple, there’s nothing all that fancy to them but there’s this thing I like to call “beautiful simplicity” and Oliver’s writing is exactly that. Heck, the epitome of that self-made term. If you’re unsure of whether you’d like the plot, read the book for it’s beautiful words, I promise you’ll eat them right up.

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.

This tale is told in a very unique format. Oliver utilizes the ‘before’ and ‘after’ trope, as well as telling the story in dual perspective, so us readers can acquaint with both the girls – Dara and Nick. There are also newspaper clippings and other articles slipped in between chapters, as well as diary entries and emails. Basically, Oliver whips in anything that can be whipped in, and turns it into this magnificent tale that is told with so much poignancy and and depth.

Don’t ask me how I know. I just do. If you don’t understand that, I guess you’ve never had a sister.

Being an older sister myself, I found myself clicking with this story from the very first page. (Not that if you aren’t a sister you won’t connect with this story, it’s just that I found that I could resonate with this story better.) Immediately, you can feel the tension and competition that is lingering in the air between these two sisters, but at the same time, there is this unconditional love that is always present. It’s the differences that set us apart, and Dara and Nick really do prove that exact statement. These two girls, while they do share some of the same genes, are miles and miles apart in terms of their personality and interests. It’s basically an invisible barrier between them,  and the older they got, the wider that barrier seemed to get. I certainly think that Oliver did an excellent job at pulling of the sisterly dynamic. It felt plausible and just so very real.

In terms of the ending, I definitely didn’t see it coming. Oliver brings a nice twist to the table, and makes this thriller a whole lot more thrilling and unique. Unfortunately, at the same time, the ending did lessen the book’s credibility for me. I wasn’t able to fully accept it, mainly due to how it unravelled. As the first half of this book is considerably slower than the second half, the change in pacing for the second half really threw me off, and consequently made the ending not give the impact that it was hoping to bring.

Beautiful writing, a gripping tale and a thrilling sisterly dynamic, Vanishing Girls is certainly my favourite book by Lauren Oliver. 

~Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me this copy!~

4 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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59 Responses to Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

  1. Karin says:

    I think I’m going to give this one a try, even though I didn’t love Panic very much and haven’t read the Delirium books. The story really intrigues me and hopefully I’ll like it better than Panic as well. Great review!
    Karin recently posted…Review: Twisted Souls (Twisted #1)My Profile

  2. Shannelle C. says:

    I think everyone has a rocky relationship with Lauren, or it’s just me. But honestly, reading the reviews for this, I usually find a mention of the blogger’s wavering support for Lauren. 😀

    The reviews I’ve read for this are pretty positive so far, so that’s good!
    Shannelle C. recently posted…Book Review: I Am the Messenger by Markus ZusakMy Profile

  3. I’m really not sure about this one. The blurb just doesn’t speak to me. XD
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…{Mirror Mirror} Awesome trailers & Beautiful, pretty new covers!My Profile

  4. I’ve always loved Lauren Oliver’s writing, but her last few books (plot-wise), hasn’t really been doing it for me. I’m happy to see that you enjoyed this one! I might have to give this one a go. Thanks for the great review, Melanie!
    Cyn @ Book Munchies recently posted…Review: Perfect Couple by Jennifer EcholsMy Profile

  5. I’m glad this ended up being one of those Lauren Oliver books that you enjoyed as much as her early books you mentioned. The theme of sisters sounds really touching and the mystery well done with its twist. I’m also curious about the dual pov and flashback use which can be really effective and cool.

    Lovely review, Melanie! Hope you’re having a great weekend 🙂
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Young Adult Book Review: Red ​by Alyxandra HarveyMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks Kim! I totally did xD Yeah, I think Oliver did really well with the flashbacks and dual POV! Highly essential to the story and gave this book a little something special

  6. Hilary says:

    -resigned sigh-. I know what you mean. I wasn’t a fan of Oliver’s Panic and I sort of fell out of touch with Oliver’s books after that. Perhaps, I’ll give this book a chance. I’ve heard some good things about it.
    Hilary recently posted…Review: Vicious by V.E. SchwabMy Profile

  7. Tanja says:

    I did enjoy all Lauren’s books by now, but somehow I ended up disappointed with some authors I used to love so much. Somehow I think I expect too much now and I don’t want to ruin my memories of certain authors. But at the other hand this one still sounds really interesting. If I manage to lower my expectations I will give this one a try. Great review, Mel 🙂
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  8. I’m glad to hear this one is good. I loved Before I Fall and really enjoyed Liesl & Po, but I’ve read some not-so-great reviews of the other books you mentioned. I think I already have this book on my want-to-read list; now I just have to find myself a copy!

    Thanks for the review!
    La Coccinelle @ The Ladybug Reads… recently posted…New to the TBR Pile (18)My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Ooh yes I’ve heard that Liesel and Po is really good! I wanna try that one sometime in the future. Before I Fall–yes!!! It’s my 2nd fav of hers after Vanishing Girls.

  9. In all the reviews I’ve read of this, I’ve never heard about the sister element! So that’s cool. Also I never knew you had a sister/s O_O Yay for oldest sisters!! (I have two younger sisters and four step-siblings…it gets tiring)
    Emily @ Loony Literate recently posted…It’s a Loony Life (6) – Book Haul and Exams and Cover Reveals!My Profile

  10. HER WRITING IS SO BEAUTIFUL. It just…gah. I’m with you and have a weird like-meh relationship with Luaren Oliver’s writing but really: IT IS BEAUTIFUL. And that is all. And I have a sister too, so I completely related to Nick. Ha. Although my sister is less wild, but still annoying. (All sisters are annoying?! I think it’s in their contract. You love ’em and want to smack ’em simultaneously.) This is my definite favourite Lauren Oliver book so far. :)))
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  11. Alreem says:

    sound like you really liked this book 😀 I have never read anything by this author before …
    Alreem recently posted…IN MY MAIL-BOX[19]My Profile

  12. Fantastic review Mel 🙂 I really loved this one – and that twist was one I didn’t see coming either! I loved how the before/after concept was done skilfully and the writing style pulled me in from the very beginning.
    Eugenia @ Genie In A Book recently posted…Genie’s Weekly News (26)My Profile

  13. I’M ROCKY WITH OLIVER AS WELL! As in I’ve liked nothing else BUT THIS ONE HORRAYYYYY!

    I loved the exploration of the sisters and their relationship! Very interesting and layered. And her writing! How beautiful was it? Not overly embellished AT ALL and yet there was this beautiful touch to it. But I definitely agree, that ending, although great, was rushed! Lovely review, Mel! x
    Jess @My Reading Dress recently posted…Seeking Saturday’s Read #26: Technological Catastrophes, the Declaration of “Once A Fortnight” and Getting Re-InspiredMy Profile

  14. Shelumiel says:

    I want to really try Lauren Oliver and I’m going for this one. Thoughtful review!
    Shelumiel recently posted…For Girls OnlyMy Profile

  15. Wattle says:

    I’ve seen so many reviews of this one lately, and not one has hated it! This one sounds interesting, I am a bit curious. The format its told in sounds like it could be confusing, but isn’t? Hmmmm. I’m going to think about adding it to my TBR.
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #23My Profile

  16. Cynthia says:

    Great review. I read this one and I had a few issues with the pacing. It appeared like the synopsis was about the missing girls and the missing sister, but that stuff didn’t happen until more than halfway through the book. But the ending did blow me away. I did NOT see it coming!
    Cynthia recently posted…Chocolate Book Tag!My Profile

  17. Jasprit says:

    I don’t know why I didn’t consider giving this book when I first heard about it, maybe because I didn’t really enjoy Oliver’s last read that I picked up, but your review has definitely changed my mind, I love books which are full with beautiful passages, that is always one of my weaknesses and also when an author does the before and after aspect really well. Thank you for convincing me of giving this book a go! Lovely review! 🙂
    Jasprit recently posted…The Readers Den Three Year Blogoversary!My Profile

  18. I read Delirium, Before I Fall and Panic, and unfortunately found all three a bit mediocre – but I will admit I love Lauren Oliver’s writing. This being said, I am so excited for this, especially considering that it’s your favorite Oliver work to date.

    I think the sibling dynamics sound so interesting. I’m also the oldest in my family, with two younger sisters, and can relate to Dara and Nick because all three of us have completely, completely different personalities. And combine the sibling relationships with a mystery and you really have something completely unique and surreal!

    Definitely going to put a hold on this from my library Mel. Thanks for sharing!
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…Liars, IncMy Profile

  19. Amber Elise says:

    Oh oh oh! I’m excited for this one mostly because of Oliver’s prose. I would LOVE to hear her read aloud from one of her books one day.

    I too am the oldest of my siblings so I’m interested in seeing how I relate to this two sisters.

    Thanks for the review Mel, I’m super excited for this!
    Amber Elise recently posted…Book Review: The Immortal RulesMy Profile

  20. That’s interesting to hear, I’ve hated Oliver’s earlier books like Requim and Before I fall. I was forced to read her books because she came for a visit in the Philippines. Surprisingly, Vanishing Girls caught my eye but I had no idea it was written by Oliver till later on. She didn’t have poetic writing from my perspective (If you compare it to her earlier books) She didn’t have much of a smooth flow because I senses that she was just trying to increase page numbers haha so I was bit uncomfortable with her books. HEHE But I’m glad you enjoyed! I’m gonna try this one out soon since I know how difficult it is to impress you *Winks!
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  21. I’ve become an insta-fan of Lauren Oliver when I read her Panic because the tension and thrill and suspense in the air was written so, so, so well. This sounds like it would be another thrilling read, especially since it showcases the downward spiral of a siblings’ relationship. Feels like Dangerous Boys in that sense 😛
    Faye le Potato recently posted…ARC Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirMy Profile

  22. This book kinda remind me of Gone Girl. Though I never read any of Oliver’s books, I’ve been wanting to read Panic. Glad that you like this one, I’ll check this one out soon 🙂
    Tiffany @ The Bookish Thought recently posted…Review : Champion by Marie LuMy Profile

  23. I absolutely love Oliver’s writing and I can see exactly what you’re talking about, Mel! BEAUTIFULLY SIMPLISTIC. And yeah, I loved her Before I Fall as well, and for a point of time I was obsessed with the first book in the Delirium trilogy, but then Panic came and…yeah. I can’t wait to get into this one, though. It sounds absolutely fantabulous.
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  24. Well, yay! The only Oliver book I’ve read is Before I Fall, which was okay, but I didn’t love it. I was hesitant to read this. I’m happy to hear it was unique and entertaining. Though the pacing may be rough for me. Either way, glad you enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading it myself! 🙂
    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted…Review: Salt & Stone by Victoria ScottMy Profile

  25. Oh I’ve been cautious whether to buy this book or not. I knew this was coming out but wasn’t overly excited about it. But I loved Panic, that was amazing but her Delirium series didn’t win me any favours. But I’m so pleased this one delivered which makes me want to read it already. I love a bit of mystery and I do love Lauren’s writing too. Great review, Melaine!
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  26. Rashika says:

    I actually have this on my TBR already but I wasn’t sure when I’d get around to reading it. The dynamics between the sisters really have me curious though, being an older sister myself.

    There seem to be two kinds of sisterly relationships dominant in YA, the perfect, happy-go-do sisters or the ones who seem to hate each other’s guts, neither of which seem to be a 100% accurate (although I have met sisters who seem to be on the same page and are just so super nice and perfect it’s kind of awkward).

    I am glad you ended up enjoying this one, Mel! It makes me more excited to eventually pick it up! 🙂

    Fantastic review! 😀
    Rashika recently posted…Potato Prints #6: Shatter Me + The Perks of Being a Wallflower + The Book Thief + Scorpion RacesMy Profile

  27. Romi says:

    Oh, well I’m glad to find that this was so much better than you expected! And your favourite Lauren Oliver read- that’s great! I’ve never finished one of her books before, though I’ve tried quite a few; I’m a little interested to see the sister dynamic and see if I connect with it, which I’m not sure I would from the ways you’ve described it. I’m sorry to hear the ending wasn’t quite what it should’ve been for you- maybe it’ll be better on a reread, one day.
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  28. I’m wary of this book, because of Panic which I couldn’t stand. But I’m kind of swayed with the sisterly dynamic, I mean we need more of that in YA. Her writing is definitely beautiful and I love the poetic nature of the quotes you picked out. Wonderful review Mel <3
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  29. Have only ever read Delirium and I enjoyed it, but have been reluctant to read her other books. should I ?
    Please don’t hesitate to stop by:
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  30. I hated Before I fall and quite liked delirium and was meh about Panic, so I’m excited to read this. Your reveiw sounds like it has all the best things about Olivers writin: taut and suspenseful, with friendships and sisters and mystery
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  31. I loved Before I fall, was disappointed with the last Delirium book and haven’t read Panic yet. I do adore Oliver’s writing style and am really looking forward to this book which I am going to squeeze in before the month is out. Great review, you’ve made me even more excited to read it.
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  32. Irene says:

    I read the book and I’m completely confused. I don’t understand the twist. One minute Dara is alive and the next she is dead? I was following along perfectly until the RIP Dara… Could someone please clarify what happened?(: thank you

    • Melanie says:

      No, Dara was always dead. From the beginning of the book to the very end. Nick experienced a major dissociative disorder which is indicated in an email to Dr. Lichme from Michael Hueng. The disorder was caused by Dara’s death and how Nick reacted to it, because Nick thought it was her fault that her sister died in the car crash. The disorder (later called Depersonalisation Disorder) made Nick “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 […]” Basically, whenever we were told it was Dara’s POV, the twist is that it was actually just Nick and her disorder in play, inhabiting her dead sister’s mind. It’s basically all explained in that email to Dr. Lichme towards the end of the book. According to my ARC copy of the book, you’ll find it on page 330.

      Hope that helps!

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