Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

This book is nothing like I thought it would be. The summary suggests that it’s about two disappearances, two missing girls. The entire book, I kept thinking… one of the sisters is going to go missing, and the other sister will embark on a quest to find her. That’s the only way the summary made sense to me.
Apparently not, because none of that happened.

The thing about this book is that it’s written in eloquent metaphors and confusing similes that make me want to say “Huh?” I think Oliver was trying to spice up her writing- but she tried a little too hard. Sentences such as:
It feels wrong that she knows—like a doctor probing your mouth with his fingers.
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.
Don’t get me wrong, a few of those every once and awhile is fine, but this book is littered with them. If I turned it upside down and shook it, I’d have a mess of metaphors papering my floor.
On to the actual plot line.
A few months ago, Nick was driving in the car with her sister, Dara, when they drove off the side of the road and suffered a terrible accident. Although Nick walked away physically unscathed, Dara was scratched and bruised beyond recognition.

As a result, the sisters’ fragile relationship was shattered beyond repair. Nick went to live with her father and his girlfriend, Cheryl, and Dara stayed with their slightly crazed mother. After months of separation, the girl’s therapist, Dr. Lichme, thought it would be best if they were reunited.
I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship with the two sisters, Nick and Dara. The book frequently alternated between Before (the accident) and After. Their memories from Before did a /decent/ job of showing their relationship; as close as most sisters can be.
Everything else basically sucked.

One thing I hated: Dara’s character. Dara is shown as the typical “bad girl,” going to parties, getting drunk, playing hearts of all the boys, dripping in lipstick and eyeliner. Meanwhile, during all of this, Nick, the “goody goody” keeps quiet because they “made a pact never to tell on one another.”
That’s cute and all, but if your sister is coming home drunk every night and going to parties with random guys, I think you’d be pretty concerned. Nick talks about throwing away cigarettes in Dara’s room so her mother wouldn’t find them, or holding back her hair as she threw up. Why wouldn’t you be worried for her safety? If you truly love someone, their safety always comes first.
Another thing that bugged me? The Nick/Parker/Dara relationship. Nick and Dara grew up next door to a boy named Parker. Nick was always his best friend, the one he favored. They did everything together throughout their childhood, leaving Dara trailing behind. But for some reason one day Parker decides to make out with Dara and they become a “thing.” Meanwhile, Nick stands on the sidelines, broken hearted.

I didn’t feel any chemistry between Dara and Parker. Zip. Zero. Nice try!
As for the “twist” ending… nah, not original. I wasn’t expecting it, sure, but only because I was dragging myself through the last few pages and it was so awkwardly constructed. If you read a lot of modern thrillers, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

I don’t know, Lauren Oliver. You had a chance to hit a homerun with this one, but you swung a little too hard.

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