Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It is by friggin' Lauren Oliver so OF COURSE I have to read it. It is by friggin' Lauren Oliver so OF COURSE it is amazing.

Vanishing Girls
Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of Publication: March 10, 2015

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.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I read Vanishing Girls with Miel of Bookish and Awesome (linked is his review) and I'm glad I read it with someone because this is the type of book that you just HAVE TO discuss afterwards. I mean, we both went WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK DID JUST HAPPEN toward the end of the book. It is THAT kind of book.

As expected from Lauren Oliver, Vanishing Girls was slow in its build-up. I remember Miel telling me around halfway of the novel that nothing was happening and that the build-up and prose are slow. But that's the brilliance of Lauren Oliver. Nothing is happening and it feels and reads sluggish but everything ties up in the end. When she decides to pull all the tension possible into a scene? HOLD ON, I CANNOT FOLLOW. I CANNOT BREATHE. Damn, Lauren Oliver, damn.

What was so great about Vanishing Girls is that I had a hunch right from the start and apparently, I was right! But Lauren Oliver made me reject that hunch and my gut feel EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. so that's what I did. I rejected my gut feeling. That's how great Lauren Oliver is because I trusted her narrative more than what my mind told me.

I know Lauren Oliver is not for everyone as her writing style is not for everyone but damn it, she slays me with the slow, a bit dragging but detailed and beautiful prose. I think Vanishing Girls is the easiest to get into though among her novels that I've read (Delirium series and Panic) so for those who want to try out Lauren's works, I suggest you go start with this. We were eating lunch and my mom noticed that I was rushing. OF COURSE, I WAS. Time away from Vanishing Girls was excruciating because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT IS THE DEAL.

Like most of her novels, Vanishing Girls is more like a slice-of-life story and it is driven by its characters rather than the plot. The Madeline Snow case just provides a backdrop to what is essentially the story of Nick and Dara's relationship as sisters. We peel every single layer, be it the heartwarming ones or the gritty ones.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is how nuanced the relationship is between sisters Nick and Dara. I have a younger sister and I can definitely relate to Nick and I also know for a fact that my sister will relate to Dara. But then like Nick I also envy Dara, and my sister, like Dara, also envies her older sister. It's such a complicated relationship. As the eldest I'm expected to be patient and be good and my sister is always compared to me. But then I wish I can be as nonplussed and not uptight and worrisome as my sister. She's so carefree! I love my sister and I spoil her (and boss her around HAHA) but I also EXPECT a lot from her. Like, I expect her to KNOW me and my moods, know when to push me or leave me alone, etc. So when she makes a mistake, it's so easy for me to get angry because I feel like: YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO KNOW ME THE BEST. I know when my sister's lying and I know when to pry and when to let her do her thing. The part where if you don't understand then maybe you don't have a sister is just so true. I mean, of course, my sister and I are not this intense/stressful but it's just so on point without being actually exact experiences for us.

By the end, I was having goosebumps while reading Vanishing Girls. Remember when I rejected my hunch because Lauren Oliver made it seem like I was wrong? By the time I realized I was right, I WAS FLOORED. Because little clues have been left all along, clues that were not suspicious AT ALL but worked in favor of the reality bomb Lauren Oliver just dropped all over the reader. You wouldn't have thought that these little things, little conversations, will serve as proof in the end. They wouldn't raise any red flags but at the end, you'd go: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK. It was unbelievable because it works. Everything is in its place and I was left with my brain screaming FUCKING BRILLIANT.

Just, don't give up on Vanishing Girls. I know it starts slow but just continue with it and revel in how Lauren will surprise you. DAMN, LAUREN OLIVER, DAMN.

About Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers and so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in front of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between “chortling” and “chuckling,” is normal. She has always been an avid reader. 

She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature. After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked briefly as the world’s worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York. Her major career contributions during this time were flouting the corporate dress code at every possible turn and repeatedly breaking the printer. Before I Fall is her first published novel. 

She is deeply grateful for the chance to continue writing, as she has never been particularly good at anything else.


  1. Damn, I sort of I wish I used more f-bombs in my review! Haha! Thanks for buddy-reading this with me! It sure is one of those books, as you pointed out. And, obviously, we've discussed this before but that part where you talk about your relationship with your sister is just so on point! Finish Mosquitoland so we can gush about it!

    1. I actually didn't use a lot of f-bombs at the start but when you asked me, I felt like I had to drop it all over the floor. Haha! I hope I can finish Mosquitoland ASAP especially because you are waiting for me. Hee.


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