Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on March 10th 2015
Pages: 368
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

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.

"Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on." -- E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.


Well, Lauren Oliver has done it again: Written such lovely words, told such a moving story, and reminded me of why she’s one of my favorite authors of all time. Vanishing Girls was exquisite.

Vanishing Girls features Nick and Dara, sisters who used to be extremely close, but are now anything but. Not having a sister, the dynamics have always fascinated me, and the relationship in this book is no exception. Nick and Dara were best friends, seemingly soul mates, until life started to come between them. Different tastes and opinions, boy trouble (well, that may be putting it mildly), and most horrifically, a serious car accident, have pushed them far apart from the close siblings they’d been.

I connected with Nick from the start of the book. I don’t know why, she simply resonated with me, and reminded me a bit of myself I suppose. Yes, she had her faults, but I feel like I have quite a few of the same faults, so I found her insanely relatable. I didn’t connect to Dara as much for a plethora of reasons, some of which made a lot of sense to me as the book progressed. But I was still captivated by her story even if I couldn’t relate to her as much.

There is so little I can say about this book without spoiling things, so I will provide you with a few tidbits that really solidified my love for this book, and then I will suggest that you read it, okay? Fabulous.

  • There is mystery. Oh no, this isn’t just a story about sisters. It starts off with some talk about a young girl who has disappeared, and I am going to be honest (and this may make me an awful human being), I didn’t care at all at first. I just wanted to get on with the real story. Silly me, this was all part of the real story. Sorry!
  • The writing is magnificent. I have said before that I’d pay to read Lauren Oliver’s grocery list, and that applies now more than ever. There are times when I was thinking that maybe some of the descriptions were superfluous, but then I realized that I was so very in the scene, that it all made sense. She was able to evoke such a feeling of being present in the story, that the words became necessary. There was one scene in particular (and don’t worry, this is not even close to a spoiler!):

    “I towel off with the scratchy brown paper towel unique to public restrooms, the kind that smells like wet earth.”*

    I felt absolutely in some grimy public bathroom! How is that even possible? Oh, because Lauren Oliver paints magnificent word pictures, that’s how.

  • There’s a big old twist. Now, I figured out the twist (not incredibly early, but quite a bit before it was all revealed) but it didn’t decrease my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, it was almost the opposite. I felt like I had a better appreciate and understanding about what was going on and that my newfound insight helped me connect with the story more.

Bottom Line: I can’t and won’t say anything more for fear of revealing something, but Vanishing Girls and I got along quite well. I cared deeply about the characters and the story, and my emotions were all over the place, in the best of ways. Definitely a win for me.

*Quote taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change.


Who are some of your favorite authors, the ones who can just blow you away with their words? 

Posted March 6, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review , / 23 Comments

23 responses to “Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

  1. Great review. I’ll be honest. I was a bit disappointed with the pacing. The synopsis indicated that it was mainly about the sister’s kidnapping, but the sister didn’t go missing until more than halfway through the book. I kept waiting for it. But yes, the ending blew me away. It was crazy good. Maybe I am just bad at these things, but I didn’t suspect it at all.

    • I do see your point. It didn’t bother me, but it does make sense, it is definitely very character driven, and slower paced, especially at first. But I still loved it 😉

  2. I adore Lauren Oliver and honestly think I’ll just pick up anything she writes. She has this way of telling a story that is so detailed and enthralling. I’m glad this was such a win for you!

  3. Nooooooooooo, this is not fair. I was looking forward to it, but then remembered how much I didn’t like Panic at all, so keep putting it off, but NOW I NEED TO FIGURE OUT THE MYSTERY. So thanks for that, haha. One thing I did love about Panic though, was the writing. I adore her writing. I don’t have a sister either, (although I grew up with 3 female cousins, two of who I was close to, and only one I’m still close to) so that should be fun to see how their relationship deteriorates (is that bad of me? Probably, haha.)

    • Sorry! I definitely didn’t like Panic as much as this. I liked Panic a decent amount, but Vanishing Girls is much, much better. Hahah and no, I enjoyed all that sister-drama too 😉

  4. This was my first Lauren Oliver book but it won’t be my last. I loved this book! I waa definitely not expecting the ending and I’m usually really good at figuring out the ending of books. Great review!

    • Thanks! I do hope you enjoy it, but I know what you mean- it seems a lot of people either LOVE her, or don’t quite connect with her stories, which makes sense, because not everyone is going to love every style! Still, I hope it ends up working out for you 🙂

  5. This is one of those books I am simply dying to read. I read this author’s “PANIC” before and while it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, the author’s talent at building the mystery and suspense AND atmosphere was definitely impeccable. I can just imagine how it’s going to be here with these two girls!

    • I agree, the bones were there for Panic, I just wasn’t nearly as invested as I was in Nick and Dara! (Or, in Lena in Delirium!) This one was definitely a winner for me! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  6. I’m really glad to hear you liked this! i have it on preorder! i heard so many good things about it that i figured i might as well, but in all honesty i haven’t read too much by Lauren Oliver! only her delirium series i believe its called. great review!

    • Yep, I loved her Delirium series too (though the end of Requiem left me MAD)! I also adored Before I Fall, this book of course, and I liked Panic, but definitely not as much as the others. Thanks! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  7. I love it when I figure out the twist, but it’s okay because the author is doing such a good job telling the story that you’re just waiting for the characters to catch up to you (and maybe … just maybe wondering if you could possibly be wrong).

  8. I just finished reading this, and I love Lauren Oliver, but…I think my main problem was that while I loved the characters I didn’t CONNECT with them. It was just one of those books, for me, where I didn’t connect to the story or the characters quite enough. Also, since you said figuring out the big twist helped you enjoy it even more, I think the fact that I didn’t figure out the twist before it happened, made me like it less because then it just seemed so random and almost rushed to me. I think, it might be my fault, I might not have been paying enough attention!

    Anyway, I’m really glad you loved it! As for the question, my answer would have to be Lauren Oliver, Rick Riordan, Rainbow Rowell(!), and Cinda Williams Chima…to name a few. =)

    • I think this would be a difficult book if you didn’t connect with at least SOMEONE. And I don’t think it was your fault about the twist, I just had a sneaking suspicion, from probably 40-50% in. I don’t think there were clues or anything, I just… knew? Or suspected I guess. I NEED to read Rainbow Rowell too, what is my problem!?

  9. Please note that Vanishing Girls is a novel originally published by HarperCollins, in 2012, by Katia Lief. Some of my readers have expressed confusion, since it’s the same title and the same publisher, and so I am spreading the word.

    “Vanishing Girls is powerful, provocative, and pulsating with verve; it also marks an evolution of character and circumstance that should serve the series well in future installments. Further, Karin Schaeffer is both complex and compelling, and arguably one of the strongest female figures in contemporary crime fiction—and her absolute strength of will is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”
    —John Valeri, Hartford Books Examiner

  10. I ordered this one, and I cannot wait to read it. I’m a huge Lauren Oliver fan, and I’m sure this one will impress me. I like that it’s a book about sisters, but that there’s still more to it. Besides, I’m due for a mystery…

    • I really enjoyed this one! Now, it does move a bit slower than your average mystery, because it is quite character driven, BUT, as long as you’re okay with that, you should be good 😉

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