Vanishing Girls Book Review

Here comes yet another psychological thriller from Lauren Olivier (author of Before I Fall). The story revolves around two sisters who have survived a tragic car accident and are trying to get their lives in order in the aftermath.
Then Dara (the younger sister) vanishes on her birthday and Nick (the older sister) 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.


I’m not sure I liked this book. It was written in a clever style (too clever for my liking sometimes) and the metaphors and comparisons were a bit on the off-side. I’ll give you one example:

The weather was breezy and cold, so Sam wore layer after layer of clothing – like an onion.

Get it? She has layers… like an onion.
And another one:

“His motions are erratic, like a scarecrow that has just come to life and has to compensate for a spine full of stuffing.”

The pictures that pepper the book are cute and the bits of newspaper clippings and Facebook messages are fun to look at but let’s be real – no real teenager uses Facebook anymore. Snapchat all the way! And they felt like little embellishments added after the book was written and could have been left out. I much loved Dear Amy/a> and the way that was written and even Sadie had a better approach in integrating media into the book writing.


The good bits:
I liked how the two sisters were depicted – the love and hate relationship, the jealousy, the petty thefts from one another, the parents love the golden child (normally the youngest) and the forgotten one. I liked the mechanics of a household who’d experienced drama.

“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.”


The bad bits
But that does not mean the book is good or original. The ending (I’m going to spoil it for you) is very much a cliche! The author did not use the “It was all a dream” approach but went pretty close with it. After the accident that killed her sister Dana, Nick has been experiencing a personality disorder which allowed her to “inhibit” certain patches of time in her sister’s skin, mimicking her behavior, trying to talk the same way with the same people, limping like her. Her sister, Dana, did not disappear. It was her all along!! What a cop-out!

“There’s a metaphor in that somewhere—like all of life is about ending up somewhere you didn’t expect, and learning to just be happy with it.”


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