Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

A long time fan of Lauren Oliver, I got Vanishing Girls at a YALLWest book swap in May. Since then, the novel has been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. I’ve always said I would read it soon. Soon, as it turns out, would be this week. Vanishing Girls is the first book I’ve read for my reading challenge.

Vanishing Girls takes place in a dreary beach town and follows two sisters, Nick and Dara. Before the novel starts, they were involved in a car accident that scarred the side of  party-girl Dara’s face. When the story starts, the sisters are dealing with the aftermath in very different ways. Nick throws herself back into life, picking up a summer job at a floundering amusement park. Dara prefers to stay in her room and smoke weed. They both are trying to piece together what happened the night of the accident and are struggling to reconnect with each other. But, like with any good book, something’s not quite right. The unraveling of it all starts with the seemingly unrelated disappearance of little Madeline Snow.

The less you know about Vanishing Girls, the better. This book reminded me of We Were Liars, in both the ending obvious in retrospect, yet shocking when first revealed and the darkly funny writing. This writing is something that Oliver does quite well, particularly in her fifth young adult novel, Panic. The gritty feel and strange sense of both being resigned to a miserable fate and being strangely optimist that fate can be changed is something Oliver’s stories often share. By Vanishing Girls, her sixth YA novel, she’s clearly mastered it. Next on my list are Replica, her newest novel, and Before I Fall, her first novel. Hopefully, they’ll live up to my high expectations.

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