Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, published by Hodder and Stoughton on 10th March 2015
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.
I've read nearly all of Lauren Oliver's books now but so far none of them have totally bowled me over. I thought 'Vanishing Girls' might have been the one to change that but although it was a good read and at times quite gripping, it wasn't one which would have kept me up all night reading to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The story is about sisters Dara and Nick and the deterioration of their sibling relationship. The story is told in Before and After chapters, following a car accident involving the two of them. You know that something else has happened to drive a wedge between them but you don't know what. It's a case of trying to read between the lines. Nick has always been the responsible older sister, so when Dara disappears on her birthday, Nick is determined to find her and fix their fractured bond.
Touted as a psychological thriller, I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't guessed the big twist very early on in the story. I think this is a device which has been used so often now that it wasn't a particularly big surprise. It was still incredibly well done but the element of tension and suspense was missing for me.
I also didn't like the narrative structure of the book. I found it quite fragmented and jumpy with two time frames and two characters sharing their perspectives and thoughts. I normally prefer more of a linear storyline so this took a bit more getting used to.
I really wanted to like this title more than I did but it was too predictable and overall I didn't connect with the characters enough to feel invested in them and their situation. There's no doubt that the writing itself was excellent but for me, I felt like there was definitely something lacking.