My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m always wary of Lauren Oliver’s YA books. For some reason, the end of her Delirium series REQUIEM left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I haven’t been able to get over it. However, VANISHING GIRLS does not disappoint. Reminiscent of PANIC, the story takes place in a small community. The sisters in the story sound like any set of siblings one might encounter who are too close to be indifferent to one another and too different to stay close as they grow up. Throw in a divorce and a horrible car accident and readers have the recipe for a perfect realistic mystery.
Just like with PANIC, the scariest part about Dara and Nick’s predicament is that it could happen. Readers will sense in Nick’s desperation to reconnect with Dara that something is not right. Parker’s estrangement from the sisters also sets off some alarm bells and leaves one wondering exactly what went wrong on that particular stretch of highway. There are clues to the ultimate reveal that savvy readers will pick up on, but it would be hard to accurately nail down the ultimate resolution.
Again, it took me a bit to get into the story. I was just about to put it down when it got really engaging. Nick and Dara tend to blur a little in the beginning because they are so close in age and the story switches back and forth between their voices. This seems intentional on Oliver’s part given the premise of the story. By the end of the book I wanted to shake the characters until their teeth rattled. Overall, a very realistic portrayal of teens struggling with trauma.
BRIDGE BOOKS: One could lead students to other psychological thrillers like “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, or SULA by Toni Morrison.