Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Book Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA Mystery
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I think this is where Lauren Oliver and I will have to break up. As a whole, her books just don’t work for me. That makes me sad because so many other people love all of her books and I wonder why I can’t love her books. 

I actually really enjoyed Panic, so I was hopeful that Vanishing Girls would be another fabulous read. Unfortunately I was let down in a big way. At first it starts off interestingly enough. I wasn’t totally invested by it, but I wasn’t totally bored by it either.

The problems start to rise to the surface when I realize that this book is written in dual POVs and it goes from past to present. Now I don’t have an issue with either of these things separately, but when they all come together in one book, I get a little twitchy. I worry that it’s going to be hard to follow or that the voices will sound the same. 

Sometimes this format works, but in Vanishing Girls it did not. I kept getting confused when it would switch to past or present and then, since the girls’ voices sounded too similar, I’d be confused as to who’s POV I was reading.

That damn twist was obvious for me very early on and the only reason I kept reading was that I was hoping I’d be wrong. It seemed like it was too easy to figure out the twist, and I was massively disappointed by it. It seemed like Oliver just went for the easiest twist to do and she didn’t even try to make it less obvious.

Both sisters were very flat and it seemed like there was very little in the way of character development. It was often hard for me to distinguish who was who. The secondary characters were equally flat and underdeveloped. I was woefully unimpressed by this book and by the characters in this book. I’ll be giving this book 2 stars and unless you want your twist to be really obvious, I’d skip this book.

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Book Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Thriller
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope.

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Already optioned by Universal Pictures in a major deal, this gritty, spellbinding novel captures both the raw energy of fear mixed with excitement as well as the aching need to find a place to belong.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:
This book is going to be a tough one to review. Mostly because it took me awhile to actually get into it. The beginning of the book was all over the place and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. However, as I read it, I got more and more drawn into the world that Lauren Oliver created. Apparently this book takes place in New York, I didn’t get that feeling. Maybe because I haven’t been to New York ever, but it just didn’t have that New York feel to it.

Panic is a game where secrecy is paramount and the theme of secrecy is carried on throughout the game. Not just between the main four of Nat, Dodge, Heather and Bishop, but through others as well. No one knows anything about the game. No one knows what the tasks will be or who the judges are. Panic thrives in secrecy. 

There is also a romance element that I did not particularly love. I don’t know why but I could not get behind who Heather, Nat, Bishop and Dodge chose to be with. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the couples. I was far more interested in the game and what was going to happen next. It’s never a good thing when I don’t really like the couples. So I was glad that the romance aspect was a much smaller part than I anticipated.

I wish we had seen more of Bishop & of Nat. I don’t feel like I got to know either of them as well as I got to know Heather and Dodge and so I didn’t really get to feel anything for them or about them. I adored Heather, she was easily my favorite character in the book. She valued family and really the only family that she truly loved was her little sister Lily. Her mom, Krista was a mess and home was not a safe place for Lily or Heather.

So Heather did the only thing she could think of. She took Lily and left home, staying in her mom’s car, showering with water from a hose & squatting to use the bathroom. Until, she let Anne in on her situation. From that point on, Lily and Heather lived with Anne. Anne was the woman that Heather worked for, caring for her animals, both wild and tame.

Dodge’s situation was rough as well. A few years prior, his sister Dayna was paralyzed while playing Panic. Ever since then, Dodge has wanted revenge on the player who nearly killed her. That’s what fuels him as he prepares to play this dangerous game. He values family, but in the end he does go a teeny bit to far in order to defend his family and seek justice for Dayna.

The game itself was exciting. I’ve never ever read anything like this and I was always curious to see what the game held in store for the players. Yes you do have to suspend reality but teenagers are notoriously reckless so the story wasn’t totally far out of the realm. Teenagers often “dare” their friends to do stupid things. Is it right? No of course not but I found this to be entertaining.

I didn’t expect feels in this book as I was told it was a YA thriller, but I got the feels and I big time teared up towards the end during a very specific part.I had tears dripping down my face and I had a lump in my throat.

This book is getting 4 stars. The beginning was a little slow and I found it to be kind of jumping everywhere initially. I couldn’t get behind the romance and I don’t feel like I got to know some of the characters as well as the others. I didn’t get the New York feel from it also but I wasn’t that bothered by it. I wasn’t expecting to have feels in this book but I did so props to Lauren Oliver for bringing the feels in with a YA Thriller. However, I did love the actual story. It was full of twists and turns which is exactly how I like my thrillers.