Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Source: ARC provided by Edelweiss and Hardcover
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
Nick and Dara are sisters who used to be best friends. Dara is younger, but she was always more brave and outgoing while Nick preferred to sit on the sidelines and play the good girl. Dara was also the one more likely to get into trouble. She would often entice Nick out of her shell and drag her to parties. Things began to get a bit strained between the two of them when Dara began dating Nick's best friend, Parker. Nick started to feel like a third wheel to them, but they always had their sisterly bond to keep them together, at least until the accident. One rainy night, Nick drove their car off the road resulting in a devastating crash. Of course, Nick blames herself for the accident and for her sister's injuries, but she has absolutely no memory of the crash or what lead up to it. She's told it's because of the major trauma and it's normal, but nothing seems normal anymore.
After the accident, Dara becomes distant, hiding her scarred face from the world, and Nick is acting out. Life has permanently changed, and Nick is afraid she's losing her sister forever. If she can't forgive herself, how can she ever expect Dara to forgive her. Nick was wearing a seat belt and Dara wasn't, so Nick fared much better than her sister after the crash. After the accident, they weren't even living in the same house anymore until their father dumped Nick back with her mother after Nick got into trouble again. Now, Nick is determined to fix everything with her sister and get things back to the way they were before, but Dara won't have anything to do with her. Things get even more complicated when Parker comes back into Nick's life as a co-worker. They haven't spoken since the accident, but life goes on. Nick hopes that at least someone can treat her like she hasn't done something wrong, and Parker seems to be willing to give her a chance.
When Dara goes missing on her birthday, Nick first believes that she's playing a prank, but as time passes, she begins to fear that she may be in danger. Desperate to find Dara, she follows clues that reveal Dara's secret double life, and it may have something to do with the accident they were in. What's worse is that Dara's disappearance may have something to do with another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, who vanished a few weeks earlier. Nick has to find her sister before it's late.
That was like, MAJOR whoa. I'm not even sure how to review it. When I finished reading it, I immediately wanted to go back to the beginning.
Lauren Oliver is a rock star.
This is one heck of a psychological thriller. I wasn't even sure how to review it without giving things away. Let me just say that it is a great page-turner of a mystery that totally smacked me in the head at the end. Lauren Oliver will seduce you with her gorgeous writing, and totally immerse you in the story with her attention to detail. This is one of those books I read without feeling like I was reading, I felt more like I was just...there. I was so consumed by the mystery and relationships of the characters that when I got to the big plot twist, I totally didn't see it coming. I didn't figure it out, even though I usually do. I think it's because I was so sucked into the story itself and mesmerized by the brilliance of Lauren Oliver. There's a reason she's one of my favorite authors.
Early on in Vanishing Girls, you learn of the disappearance of Madeline Snow. Was she abducted? Was there foul play? Did she just run off? The entire town is consumed with this mystery. Throughout the book, Nick is able to connect what happened to Dara to Madeline Snow. You can't help but get totally wrapped up in it yourself.
Besides the mystery, it's also about family, forgiveness and dealing with tragedy. It actually starts like a contemporary story, with Nick and Dara dealing with their parents divorce and fighting over a guy, then after the accident Nick is trying to get back to a normal life working a summer job at an amusement park. Slowly, Lauren Oliver weaves the contemporary threads into a superb psychological thriller that will totally knock your socks off.
As for the accident, I know someone who was in a traumatic car crash that left her unconscious and very badly injured. She doesn't remember the accident or even the entire day that it happened, so I thought it was very accurate in this book that Nick couldn't remember it either.
It's been so hard to write this review because I had to go back and delete quite a few times to stop myself from saying things I shouldn't say, so I'll stop now and say that I would definitely recommend Vanishing Girls. I loved everything about it. There's only one bad thing...now that I've read it, I have to wait for Lauren Oliver to write another book!
That's not fair!