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Vanishing Girls

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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.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published March 10, 2015

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About the author

Lauren Oliver

55 books119k followers
Lauren Oliver is the cofounder of media and content development company Glasstown Entertainment, where she serves as the president of production. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of the YA novels Replica, Vanishing Girls, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. The film rights to both Replica and Lauren's bestselling first novel, Before I Fall, were acquired by AwesomenessTV; Before I Fall is now a major motion picture and opened in theaters March of 2017. The sequel to Replica, titled Ringer, is her most recent novel and was released October 3rd, 2017.

Her novels for middle grade readers include The Spindlers, Liesl & Po, and the Curiosity House series, co-written with H. C. Chester. She has written one novel for adults, Rooms.

A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, Lauren Oliver divides her time between New York, Connecticut, and a variety of airport lounges. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com.

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5 stars
5,932 (19%)
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10,050 (32%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,333 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
March 24, 2015
A slow build to a disappointing conclusion.

Vanishing Girls pulls out an ambitious reveal towards the end that would have caused uproar of the very best kind about five to ten years ago. However, I agree with Wendy's summation of the "twist"... in 2015, this just isn't that original or different anymore. A person who's read a bunch of psychological thrillers will see the ending coming from a mile off.

But that's not all. I've steadily developed more and more of a dislike for the way Lauren Oliver writes. Other reviewers and professional critics have commented on how much she has improved as a writer since her early days of Before I Fall and such. I know why they're all saying that, but I adamantly disagree. In fact, I find today's Lauren Oliver to be an author who writes some incredibly awkward sentences, especially when using similes. She compares her characters' actions and feelings to things that a) make me cringe, and/or b) make no sense.

“It bothers me that she calls it the Drink. That’s our name for it, a nonsense nickname that stuck, and it feels wrong that she knows—like a doctor probing your mouth with his fingers.”

I appreciate that this is something personal to me and many people probably understand the relationship between someone knowing a nickname and the sensation of a doctor probing your mouth, but it just reads so clumsy and awkward to me. Okay, I'm not an idiot. I'm guessing that she means the knowledge of the nickname feels intrusive, like a doctor's fingers also would, but it still doesn't seem to fit. Take this sentence I made up:

The weather was breezy and cold, so Sam wore layer after layer of clothing - like an onion.

Get it? She has layers... like an onion. True, but it still sounds stupid. I only wrote down one example, but I've noticed this multiple times in Vanishing Girls, and also in Rooms. One more example from the latter so you can get an idea what I mean:

"His motions are erratic, like a scarecrow that has just come to life and has to compensate for a spine full of stuffing."

I know picking apart the language makes it seem like I'm fussing over nothing, but these comparisons/similes happen often and are so odd that I find myself being pulled out of the story and thinking "huh?"

Still, Oliver draws you into the relationship between the two sisters - Nick and Dara - and their lives. I like how she portrays the intricate layers of love and jealousy they have for each other. The majority of the novel reads like a slow-moving contemporary, but I still managed to be pulled along to the end by the promise of something interesting and twisty happening.

Unfortunately, too much hangs on the ending. I was dragged through the book by my need to know what was going on and what would happen, only to discover that my early suspicions had been correct. If you're new to thrillers, then I can see you enjoying this book but, if not, I don't think you'll find anything mind-blowing.

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Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,520 reviews33.8k followers
February 10, 2015
I don't know. The writing is, because it's Lauren Oliver, very compelling--I read this in one sitting because I wanted to know what would happen next.

But I think the twist is one that we see so often these days that the timing just doesn't make it feel surprising--and when I guessed what it was, I was dismayed because I don't think this conceit holds up at all well under scrutiny. Or at least it demands that you accept what you're told in the reveal despite all the evidence that you've been shown for the 300 pages before that. Could this set-up work? Sure it could. But in this particular case, more finessing of how things were related and tidying up illogical scenarios would have made this much more convincing.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,005 reviews1,050 followers
December 18, 2015
Updated review for my friends who I may have confused yesterday.The verdict is now more clearly specified at the last part of this review. The ones in bold letters.^^

I’m so confused! I don’t know if I should throw the book or fondle it.

This is a story about two sisters, Dara and Nick, who used to be the best of friends but whose relationship starts to crack because of jealousy, competition and well, a boy.

The complication intensifies when the accident happens and everything from that point on becomes a mystery.

I’m already very suspicious that something is going to be very fishy here what with E. Lockhart’s commentary flashed on the book cover but when I finally got to the final revelation, I did find it impressive but it also felt like an unpleasant déjà vu. After reading the book, I was a bit furious…

Or maybe really, really furious...because to appreciate the story, you would have to go back to everything from the beginning and d@^^#! I didn’t want to do that! And yet, last night that was exactly what I did. I had to play the scenes in my head all over and I hated that it had to eat a few hours of my precious bedtime. Argh!

I appreciate Lauren Oliver’s creative take on this novel- the photos, the news write-ups, the online comments to add uniqueness to the writing but it felt to me a bit oddly sporadic and out of place, as if the only use of these elements is to adorn the novel like how a little girl would put ribbons and flower stickers to her scrapbook.

I am a huge fan of the author and I know she is trying to achieve something special here but it makes me sad to say that the technique appeared quite forced and overdone.

What I find the most compelling thing about this book though is the fullness of characterizations and how well Lauren Oliver develops flawed characters who will earn the reader’s empathy. Also, I couldn’t deny that her writing always has this spellbinding effect on me and that means I won’t stop reading her books.^^

This isn’t bad at all. In fact, that it kept me replaying the scenes in my head is a big indicator that it HAD a huge impact on me and it may have a greater impact on you too.

I just think I would have appreciated this better if I hadn’t read We Were Liars first.

I highly recommend this to beginning readers of YA contemporary thriller/mystery and to everyone who hasn't read any Lauren Oliver book yet.
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,243 followers
September 11, 2015
Writing/Style: 5 stars
“Twist” Ending: 1 star

This Sea Salt and Caramel Corn Candle pairs well with this book

Okay, for about 80% of the book, Lauren Oliver had me. The writing was mostly tight and I loved the descriptions. However, there were some things that stood out to me as odd:
1. The Nick/Parker/Dara romance.
No. Just no. I know this is a YA trope where someone has a romance between siblings, but it just feels incestuous. Also, would you honestly want to date someone who has been with one of your family members? I don’t care how hot they are, they would be tainted for me. It’s a complete turnoff for me when I read something like this.

2. Dara is still on Facebook
You mean to tell me that a 15/16 year old girl in 2015—who is popular and into all the newest trends—is still on Facebook?! Excuse me while I laugh at this. What’s next, she uses a Sidekick phone from T-Mobile? Or better yet, a pink Razr. #outdated

3. Dara does ALL THE DRUGS!
Sorry, but I grew up 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and nobody I knew did as much as Dara or as often. How is it possible she was functioning? This is just another detail that takes you out of what was a pretty good story. It seemed like sometimes it was written by one of those fear-mongering news writers who are trying to scare parents about what youngins are doing these days so they embellish things. Ditto with the topless underage supah sekret photo website for pedophiles.

The thing is that Oliver has the bones of something really well-written and entertaining but it just seemed like she ran out of steam and decided to throw some other stuff into the mix because she didn’t know what to do with the characters.

Disappointing Ending Rant:
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,394 reviews7,259 followers
April 22, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“The lying is the hardest part.”

I should’ve paid attention to who gave this one kudos. E. Lockhart of We Were Liars fame? Yeah, that could have been a flashing neon sign that I would find Vanishing Girls to be . . .

Dallas Commercial Photography

Ha! Just kidding. My reaction was more like this . . .

Dallas Commercial Photography

According to the blurb Vanishing Girls was supposed to be the story of two teenaged sisters (one of which goes missing on her birthday), another missing young girl who may have been abducted, and the possibility that the two “vanishing girl” stories are somehow related. What it was instead? Sadly, a whole lotta nothing. The “disappearance” of sister #2 on the eve of her birthday doesn’t even occur until well past the halfway part. (Note to all of you wiseasses who want to tell me how I read this wrong: I may be stupid, but I’m not a complete buffoon. I know there’s more to the “disappearance” than what happens at the birthday dinner, but I am not a dickhole so I’m not going to spoil it for everyone else.)

To sum it up, once the twist was finally revealed, I was past the point of . . .

Dallas Commercial Photography

I’m giving Vanishing Girls 2 Stars because it wasn’t horrible enough to only get 1. I didn’t like the use of the back-and-forth timey wimey this go ‘round, but I do enjoy Oliver’s writing . . .

“Sometimes people stop loving you. And that’s the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again, filling the sky with a weak approximation of light.”

I also appreciated the fact that although I found the twist to be more than a bit overused - I didn’t guess it. I was also ever so grateful there was no instalove to crap up the story further.

I’m going to continue reading Lauren Oliver’s stuff because I think she is almost ready to go there and give me the dark, angry, terrifying teenagers I like to read about. Almost . . .

“Jealousy is a strong feeling, a feeling that twists your stomach and gnaws your insides to shreds. This was more of a hollowness, like being really hungry for such a long time that you kind of get used to it.”

Dallas Commercial Photography
Profile Image for Clumsy Storyteller .
348 reviews729 followers
October 12, 2016
DNF @22%


Vanishing girls by Lauren oliver is an interesting YA Mystery i adored the whole concept of the story, The diary and the journal articles were a bit confusing but the writting was good, what i didn't like were the characters! Dara and Nick, i HATED these girls. Nick is the "Good girl" has friends, pretty but not as pretty as her sister and kind of prude. Dara is the polar opposite of her sister, slut popular hot reckless, and fucks around with her sister's bestfriend just to prove that she and her sister are equals (cringeworthy!!) Parents must be proud. Anyway they had a car accident and things were never the same between Nick and Dara, Dara's body was messed up, she blamed her sister for it( i would have done the same) and Nick whined about it a LOT, like "it wasn't my fault, it was her fault, she's the one who decided not to talk to me" well what did you expect?! *not a question* This one probably requires you to be drunk to fully enjoy, Sorry book It's not you it's me!

Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,331 followers
October 15, 2018
I was not sure what to expect. Unfortunately, I lost interest just before it started to be really interesting. The ending was amazing - except for the last chapter.
I just did not see the twist coming.
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,603 followers
February 12, 2017
Review also posted at Young Adult Hollywood.

Vanishing Girls is without a doubt my favorite Lauren Oliver book so far.

In this novel, follow the story of sisters, Dara and Nick. They are inseparable until a car accident put a rift between the two of them. After, the disappearance of a nine-year-old girl, Dara vanished. And Nick is convinced, maybe the two disappearances are somehow connected to each other.

There is nothing new about the concept of this book. I’ve read a handful of stories before that have the same structure, but that is necessarily not a bad thing. Because Oliver did a magnificent job in keeping her readers guessing. This is a well-crafted mystery-thriller book. That have plenty of twists and turn. There are a lot of things I haven’t anticipated.

Vanishing Girls is a character driven book. I have sisters and I love books that gravitate towards family, especially the dysfunctional kind. The relationship between all the characters is the core of the story itself. And Oliver skillfully created the unmistakable tension between the sisters and their parents.
Prepare your tissues everyone, because this book will prompt you to reevaluate your life choices.

Vanishing Girls is life jarring, profound and a poignant read. Fans of We Were Liars will surely devour this.
589 reviews1,030 followers
June 15, 2015
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I have a very rocky relationship with Oliver’s books. While she caught my heart with Before I Fall, Panic and the later books in her Delirium trilogy did not have me impressed. So I went into Vanishing Girls very much cautiously, and I ended up getting exactly what I was hoping for.
Sometimes day and night reverse. Sometimes up goes down and down goes up, and love turns into hate, and things you counted on get washed out from under your feet, leaving you pedalling in the air.

While Vanishing Girls might just seem like your generic tale of two sisters at a glance, you can trust Oliver to whip out something that is just so much more underneath the surface. While the central story-line is about the love between two siblings and how it slowly twisted into jealousy and loathing, there's also a nine-year old girl who goes missing in the midst of it all, and soon you discover that these two story-lines have more in common than meets the eye.

Vanishing Girls comes to life at Oliver's writing. No one can deny - Oliver has some real skills when it comes to putting gorgeous words onto the page. They definitely hold a poetic quality, and you can really tell by the quotes I've scattered across this review. Sure, her words a really simple, there's nothing all that fancy to them but there's this thing I like to call "beautiful simplicity" and Oliver's writing is exactly that. Heck, the epitome of that self-made term. If you're unsure of whether you'd like the plot, read the book for it's beautiful words, I promise you'll eat them right up.
Sometimes people stop loving you. And that's the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again, filling the sky with a weak approximation of light.

This tale is told in a very unique format. Oliver utilizes the 'before' and 'after' trope, as well as telling the story in dual perspective, so us readers can acquaint with both the girls - Dara and Nick. There are also newspaper clippings and other articles slipped in between chapters, as well as diary entries and emails. Basically, Oliver whips in anything that can be whipped in, and turns it into this magnificent tale that is told with so much poignancy and and depth.
Don't ask me how I know. I just do. If you don't understand that, I guess you've never had a sister.

Being an older sister myself, I found myself clicking with this story from the very first page. (Not that if you aren't a sister you won't connect with this story, it's just that I found that I could resonate with this story better.) Immediately, you can feel the tension and competition that is lingering in the air between these two sisters, but at the same time, there is this unconditional love that is always present. It's the differences that set us apart, and Dara and Nick really do prove that exact statement. These two girls, while they do share some of the same genes, are miles and miles apart in terms of their personality and interests. It's basically an invisible barrier between them,  and the older they got, the wider that barrier seemed to get. I certainly think that Oliver did an excellent job at pulling of the sisterly dynamic. It felt plausible and just so very real.

In terms of the ending, I definitely didn't see it coming. Oliver brings a nice twist to the table, and makes this thriller a whole lot more thrilling and unique. Unfortunately, at the same time, the ending did lessen the book's credibility for me. I wasn't able to fully accept it, mainly due to how it unravelled. As the first half of this book is considerably slower than the second half, the change in pacing for the second half really threw me off, and consequently made the ending not give the impact that it was hoping to bring.

Beautiful writing, a gripping tale and a thrilling sisterly dynamic, Vanishing Girls is certainly my favourite book by Lauren Oliver. 

~Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me this copy!~

Profile Image for emma.
1,783 reviews42.8k followers
November 8, 2021
vanishing girls? more like...my vanishing memory of this book, girl!

okay. not my finest. but in my defense i'm setting myself up to review a book i remember almost nothing about. that's a scary thing. you try joking on the precipice! why don't i set you up on a diving board over a snake-infested pool and tell you to say something funny!

now i'm just procrastinating.

lauren oliver is an author i thought i liked, and then i realized she was actually just an author i'd read a lot of. all of her books are middling, two or three star reads for me, and even reflecting upon them is like jumping into a portal and ending up in 2015.

in other words, it's a hell i'm going to try to escape from right now.

part of a series i'm doing in which i review books i read a long time ago. kind of
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,103 followers
May 16, 2015


You're probably wondering, "Whoa, is this actually a contemporary drama or something?" Well, it's not, my dear friends - it's a psychological suspense thriller about two sisters who drifted apart after a car accident; a story of regret, bitterness, and ultimately, forgiveness. This is an atmospheric story about how a sister tries to make amends, but ultimately finds herself in a chaotic situation that would change their life forever. It made me sweat in anticipation, hold my breath in suspense, and cry my heart out for both of them and the revelation they discovered at the end. 

As someone who never had a sister (I have three annoying, mildly adorable brothers), I never really thought I could relate to Nick and Dara's story. Apparently, it was far more relatable than I thought, because their dynamics here pretty much pinched my heart until I could barely breathe, touching my soul so deeply that it hurt. Hey, mom and dad, can I have a sister?

(That would be an awkward conversation with my 50 year old parents...)



I don't even know where to start. I knew this was going to have suspense and mystery because the blurb said as much, and having read Panic, I went in with expectations because I enjoyed that book a lot. The author has a knack for putting and sustaining urgency and tension in her stories, and Vanishing Girls was not an exception. From the very first page, we can already feel that there is more to this story than what meets the eye, and it slowly unravels through the perspectives of "perfect, goody-two shoes" Nick and "sneaky, free-spirited, broken" Dara. And even though these two girls have their own flaws, I loved both of them - they were all so relatable, for each and every of their imperfections. You go to the next chapter anticipating both of their sides of the story, both addicting and heart-breaking, wanting to see how they became who they were and what went down the drain between two sisters whose relationship used to be brighter than life itself.

There were even these snippets from Dara's diary that really, really added depth and mystery to the story. Through them, you can see and feel the bottled feelings resurfacing, shedding light even further on the strained relationship both of them have, feelings that were probably inevitable as they leave their innocent childhood and enter the frustrations of being a teenager.



In a way, this is a very dark book, as it highlights the bad that happens when it comes to having a sister - jealousy, petty fights, and words said that can never be taken back. Of course we all love our brothers and sisters, but there will always be times when we will have ill thoughts about them because of what they said or what they did, times when we will hold grudges because of the fact that it had to be someone of the same blood and flesh who would have the gall to hurt and take something important from you. And it really shows in the writing and in the thoughts both these sisters have, and you'll feel nothing but pain for them.

And then, came the twist. Truth be told, I already saw it coming. It's not a surprise because there are HINTS everywhere in the book, some that were obvious, some that were subtle that you needed to read again in order to catch it, but it never affected my reading experience. Why? Because the feelings were all still there. The raw emotion. The impact when discovering a revelation that would be earth-shattering if you were the character in the book. I felt them all. It hurt my heart so much that I couldn't help but bawl my eyes out.


You and your sibling may fight, may hate each other for a time, may have your differences, but at the end of the day, despite everything else, you may find that there are times you only have each other.

Love your brothers, folks. Love your sisters.

And for the god of all things holy, get this book.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
587 reviews3,479 followers
April 15, 2016
"Don't ask me how I know. I just do. If you don't understand that, I guess you've never had a sister."

I have a sister. She's six years younger than me, more popular, cleverer and a far better person than I'll ever be, no lie. We have stupid inside jokes. She calls my boyfriends douches, and I extend her the same favor because a) they are, and b) they don't deserve my sweet baby sis. Last week, she bought me a caramel latte for no reason except she knew my deep abiding love for anything caramel.

And I love her something fierce, did I mention that?

Nick and Dara are sisters the way Sam and Dean from Supernatural are brothers. If my sister died, I'd be devastated. I'd lock myself in my room and cry for days.

But I'd move on. I wouldn't bring her back to life, given the chance. Sam and Dean would. Nick would.

They have a scarily codependent relationship. At one point, Nick describes feeling a sharp pain near her chest and discovers Dara fell from the monkey bars. Yet they don't seem to like each other best of times:

"When Dara gets like this, turns sweet and pleading, like her old self, like the sister who used to climb onto my chest and beg me, wide-eyed, to wake up, wake up, she's almost impossible to resist. Almost."

At least Sam and Dean enjoy each other's company. Dara and Nick Time is like walking on broken glass, even before the car accident. They constantly judge one another, get jealous, and never ever call out bullshit when they see it.

That's not love; that's shitty communication skills.

The twist was the final nail in the coffin. Wendy Darling and Emily May describe spot on. Last decade, would have been an daring ending. Post-Gone Girl, it comes off as cheap and unnecessary.

Plus, We Were Liars beat you to the punch.

I zoomed through Vanishing Girls in two days to find out what happens next and was sorely let down. Die-hard Lauren Oliver fans will enjoy it, but casual readers might be better off staying clear. Try Gillian Flynn. She packs one hell of a punch.
Profile Image for May.
Author 9 books8,630 followers
November 4, 2015

Dara & Nick es la nueva novela que aterriza en España de Lauren Oliver. Un thriller psicológico que sorprende con sus giros y con unos personajes que se meten en tu cabeza para no dejarte olvidarlos. Es una novela con un ritmo increíble, que transmite muchísimo y que te dejará boquiabierto con su final.
Ha sido una novela que me ha encantado, que supera a varias obras que ya he leído de la autora y que me ha dejado con muy buen sabor de boca. La he disfrutado desde la primera página y entre otras cosas debido al estilo de la autora. Lauren Oliver es única y propia y me encanta la manera que tiene de acercarnos sus historias.
Dara & Nick engancha muchísimo también. Tiene un ritmo trepidante, que se ve agilizado por el hecho de que las dos protagonistas nos cuenten la historia desde su punto de vista. Atrapa desde la primera hoja y no soltarás el libro hasta terminarlo. ¡Qué vaya final! Cada vez engancha más, más y más hasta que lo acabas. No podrás soltarlo.
Respecto a los personajes, me han parecido fascinantes. Dara y Nick, Nick y Dara. Ambas están muy bien trabajadas, tienen un perfil claro y una profundidad importante. Son personajes que parecen reales, cuyas actitudes y comportamientos las hacen parecer humanas del día a día. Además Lauren sabe introducir a sus personajes, dando detalles de cada uno poco a poco hasta hacerlos parte de nuestra vida. Nick era mi favorita, aunque Dara es el personaje más divertido de las dos. Aún así ambos son personajes muy buenos y con unos giros impactantes.
Los giros de la trama, guau. Lauren, vuelves a dejarme con la boca abierta. Me pasó igual con Si no despierto, la misma sensación con ese giro final. Dara & Nick hace un cambio de 360º al final totalmente inesperado y que cierra la novela muy bien. Me gustó muchísimo.
En, Dara & Nick es una novela con todos los ingredientes necesarios para triunfar. Tiene un ritmo frenético, sus personajes están muy bien trabjados y la trama es brillante. Me ha encantado y me ha dejado con ganas de leer más cosas de la autora. Híper recomendable.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,589 followers
May 4, 2015
I find it interesting that a quick scan of other reviews shows that many readers didn't like it for the very reason that I give it five stars! There are lots of complaints about, "Oh, blah blah, sisters fighting, and then the ending! Whatever." These people are being silly, and they need to look at this book again.

This is much more like my beloved BEFORE I FALL than her DELIRIUM books. There aren't big fight scenes, nobody's trying to overthrow the government. These are real people having real problems in a realistic way. And at first I was thinking, What a very well-written look at family dynamics, and sisterhood, and such things! Lovely! Solidly four stars!


All I have done today is pore over the last 75 pages of this book, then flip back through the earlier pages, checking chapter headings and putting the timeline together in my mind, looking for clues, conversations, and hints.

Hints about what, you ask? I'm not going to tell you! But there was a plot twist that I did not see coming, and it is FRAKKING CRAZY and I loved it to bits and pieces! Just trust me: the twist works, the hints are there, and it is VERY well done. This is a book that begs a second reading, and it is my new favorite and my best.

Five stars. Five very solid stars.
Profile Image for Lotte.
527 reviews1,102 followers
June 15, 2016
3.5/5 stars. Overall this was a good YA contemporary with some psychological thriller elements in the second half of the book.
Some random thoughts about this book:
- The narrative jumped around a lot which got confusing and kind of awkward to read sometimes. We get chapters from Nick's and Dara's point-of-view before and after the accident and there are also journal entries, articles, mails and photographs included. The photographs annoyed me (I'm not a big fan of including pictures of the characters in books because I like imagining them myself without the author being like Here! This is what this character looks like!!!), but all of the other elements definitely helped enrich the story and develop the plot.
- I did really like Lauren Oliver's writing style. There wasn't anything particularly special about it, but I could feel that she's an experienced writer and it just flowed really easily for me.
- There's this big twist towards the end and I didn't guess it even though I feel like I really should have! There were quite a few hints dropped throughout the book (I went back and reread a couple of passages after finishing the book), but it still didn't occur to me. I think in the first half of the book I just didn't feel invested enough in the story to actively guess what was going to happen. So yeah, the twist caught me off-guard and it definitely shocked me!
Profile Image for Darinda.
8,020 reviews144 followers
December 12, 2018
Two sisters, Nicola (Nick) and Dara, were once best friends. As teenagers, their relationship has become strained, and it is forever changed after a terrible car accident.

This story is told using alternating timelines - before the accident ("then") and after the accident ("now"). The story is also told using multiple points of view - Nick's POV, Dara's POV, random news reports, and entries from Dara's diary. I found the hopping around to be a bit jarring. It wasn't hard to follow the story, but it didn't flow well.

The "then" part of the story deals with the sisters crumbling relationship, which has to do with a boy. Nick's best friend is a guy, and Dara goes after him. Not cool. The "now" part continues to deal with the sister's relationship, but also involves a young missing girl. When Dara goes missing too, Nick believes it has something to do with the other missing girl.

A dark story with a twisty ending. I read this in one sitting, so it was a compelling read, but it was also awkward. Mainly, it was too disjointed with the jumping narrative. I've enjoyed other books by Lauren Oliver, and will continue to read her work, but this isn't one of my favorites by her.

I won this Kindle ebook in a Goodreads Giveaway.
Profile Image for Jess.
420 reviews595 followers
March 9, 2015
Poignant, touching and terribly messed up. Oliver’s got me as a fan.

Most of y’all know of my shaky relationship with Oliver’s books. Generally, it’s a hit or miss for me. And yet I always crawl back, because when your writing is as beautiful as hers, you’ll always have my attention. You could say I was apprehensive upon diving into Vanishing Girls. On one hand, it has this deliciously dark premise promising twists and turns (and it's blurbed smashingly, if I may say so). On the other hand , we have a Jess who has a fantastically (and some may argue, damningly) good ability to retain memories of disappointment. But I’ll have you know, Vanishing Girls came, delivered and will now stay with me (for as long as my memory permits. But it’s the thought that counts.) Vanishing Girls has flipped the tables and, honestly, it’s messed me up quite a bit. Which is just the way I like it.

Haunting. It’s the one word that encapsulates Vanishing Girls. It’s a haunting story of love—past, present, would-be loves. It is love that builds and breaks relationships. It is love that motivates—that stimulates—actions.

Sometimes people stop loving you. And that’s the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again, filling the sky with a weak approximation of light.

Vanishing Girls tells the story of sisters—the before and the after. That’s right, alternating points of view with an added sprinkle of rotating tenses. Double whammy. Basically, a narrative combination of all the techniques that I’m repelled by. But Oliver is a master of words, and so, for me, she does the (seemingly—am I a pessimist?) impossible—she pulls it off. Her experimental narration is a good investment—there’s profit to be had. It is with thanks to her narrative style that a beautifully unnerving sense of nostalgia is constructed.

Nick and Dara; sisters; inseparable. And, on the outside, picture perfect. But god, their relationship is built upon lies, frustrations and a world of difference. Through each point of view we see just how vast the ocean separating them is. We see jealousy. We see lies. We see darkness. But most importantly, and central to the story, we see love. Because, at heart, this is a story of the love between two sisters. Flawed, fatal and cataclysmic, it may be, but it is poignant, soul searching and evocative.

What sets Oliver apart from your every day thriller (I think we can safely say that the “thriller” is the new “dystopia”. Just saying.) is her inclination to take risks. Oliver takes a leap and seamlessly interweaves two tales into one. At it’s core, we get the twisted tale of two sisters. But the outer perimeters of the web explore the disappearance of a nine year old girl. And while we’re playing with analogies here, I want you to picture the sisters as the spiders, at the centre, pulling the strings. Once you bypass the web of mystery—of potential murder, of conspiracies, of lies—you get to your spider. And, as life would have it, your spider turns out to be a deadly shocker of a sight (and type—think poisonous) and it turns everything you once knew into a frenzy of rights and wrongs and maybes. It’s not as though you walked in naive and young and careless. It’s a thriller. We now know to expect the unexpected. But I guess Vanishing Girls still maintains it’s ability to be catastrophically astounding because we live in a world that now preaches a little less of the romanticism, a little more of the pragmaticsm. Well, the age of enlightenment didn’t prepare us for Vanishing Girls (oh alright, I’ve gone on a historical tangent, forgive me).

While the tale itself is imbued with mysticism, it is Oliver’s prose that takes the cake. It’s her writing, I tell you. Oliver always reels me back in. Y’all know I have one preference in life and it’s lyrical prose. I like mine flowery, metaphorical and quite frankly, purple. That’s right. I’m a lover of purple prose. But Oliver is always the exception. Her haunting tale optimises what we take for granted: the (let’s be honest) simplicity of 21st century English. There’s no abstract analogy to be had, images crafted of obscure comparisons all in the name of poeticism. We get good old simple, straight to the point similes and metaphors that encapsulate the human experience. Oliver uses the familiar, all the things that would bring us comfort, to craft an unnerving tale. And that, kids, is a winning feat.

But, like life, not all things are perfect. I love, and appreciate, a good standalone as much as the next person. In fact, I say, bring it on. After years and years of bam, cliffhanger, see you next year (maybe), I’m glad to see a wave of here’s your tale, devour it and let it haunt you. But with that, you get over-ambition. Vanishing Girls has an astounding ending. It just needed time to truly and fully reverberate. I preach the need for endings that remain authentic to the story being told. And yes, I’d say Vanishing Girls plays its cards well. Only, instead of getting the million dollars, it settled for half that amount. Rushing meant that the ending lost a bit of its touch. So yes, while it was “natural”, it lacked finality, and thus was a tad sloppily executed. But that’s up for interpretation.

There is no doubt that Vanishing Girls is my favourite Oliver book. Oliver handles minds warped by the intensity of grief, love, the past, the future and all things in between. Let your mind devour this poignant read. Let it overcome you with a sense of loss, but also warm your heart with a sense of love. Let it destroy all you thought was true. And then come back to me, and we can sit here and console one another.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

What a thorough mind fuck of a book, and you know what? It's my favourite book of Oliver's, thus far.

My head hurts, a lot. Because this book was a brilliant concoction from a wondrous imagination and it was constructed with poignancy and a touch that cannot be pinpointed. It is a fucked up tale, in more ways than one, I suppose. But it's a sister's tale and thus full of love, no matter how dysfunctional.

Ok, so I'm lying a tad. My head may hurt due to disparate reasons but that's trivial. Because I want you to read this book and close it, question whatever the fuck you just read and get back to me so I'm not so alone in this world. You're welcome.

Full review to come. I promise I'll be a bit more coherent.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,383 followers
November 17, 2017
This is my first Lauren Oliver and I was originally hesitant to begin it due to the mixture of opinions this book has received. Thankfully, I was firmly placed in the category of those who love it, although I can see where some of the more negative opinions stem from.

This is a very slow-building novel. Much of the first portion is filled with descriptions of protagonist, Nick's, summer. She has returned to her childhood home after a few months spent recuperating with her father, after to a tragic car accident that saw her bruised but sister, Dara, with permanent facial scarring. Nick was not only involved but was the driver during this accident and she has returned to a sister who ignores her existence and a mother who oscillates between over-protective parent and mentally and emotionally unavailable due, to her depressive state and possible sleeping pill addiction. Her childhood best friend also seems to be avoiding her and even when they are forced to work together, in the town's small theme park, do they not seem to be able to confront the growing distance between them.

I found this an initially interesting contemporary read but nothing especially gripped me, during this first portion of the book. Events surrounding the crash were hinted at, but little forward progression in solving this mystery was made, until much later. I was enjoying the summer vibes, however, and there was nothing inherently bad about this section.

During the second portion is where my intrigue was really captivated. The focus subtly shifted, over the course of the novel, until the mystery became, again, the central focus. With it the pace was notched higher and so, too, was my investment in this book.

I have read other reviewers state the ultimate grand reveal was an obvious one, but I was taken completely by surprise. I have seen it done, in other thrillers, but that did not hinder the intensity of shock and overwhelmed emotions I experienced when confronted with the device, here. Open-mouthed awe can only begin to cover how I felt when the mystery dogging this plot was revealed.

I found this final twist one that made any slow moments completely worth it, as it had lulled me into a state of presumed knowledge about both the course of recounted events and the steady narrative structure. It made this an ending one I won't forget quickly and also one of the strongest YA thrillers I have had the pleasure of reading.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,670 reviews1,269 followers
August 31, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“The truth is this: it doesn’t take any skill to almost-die, or to almost-live either.”

This was an intriguing story about two sisters separated by a dangerous accident, and their relationship before and after it happened.

“Dara is bored to tears alone one Saturday night.
Dara is hopelessly scarred for life.”

I really liked Dara and Nick, and it was so sad the way they were no longer talking after the accident. It seemed like they were really close before, and for them to be so distant with each other afterwards was really unusual, and it was obvious how much it was affecting Nick.

“Want to play?”
These are the three words I’ve heard most often in my life. Want to play?

“Happy birthday, Dara,” I say out loud. I fish my phone from my pocket. No surprise, she never texted me back.

The storyline in this was really good, with Nick and Dara not talking, an obvious animosity between them, a missing little girl, and an element of mystery over what happened between the girls to cause them to fall out so spectacularly.

“I can see the faint imprints of footsteps in the mud. Looking up I think I see a flash of skin, a bright spot of colour, a flicker of dark hair moving through the woods that crowd up against the back of our house.
“Dara!” I call out. Then: “Dara!”
But she doesn’t turn around.”

There was a little bit of romance, but not a lot, and this also played into the animosity between the girls, as it seemed like there might have been a bit of a love triangle going on between the girls and the boy next door.

"Dr Lick Me – I’m sorry, Lichme – says I should spend five minutes a day writing about my feelings.
So here I go:
I hate Parker.
I hate Parker.
I hate Parker.
I hate Parker.
I hate Parker.
I feel better already!"

The ending to this was surprising, but something was also revealed that I had guessed at very early on in the book, not that this spoiled the book at all for me.

“Tonight Dara and I wake the beast together. Tonight we ride the Gateway up to the stars.”

Overall; gripping tale about two sister’s torn apart by an accident,
7.5 out of 10

Profile Image for Rose.
1,854 reviews1,046 followers
April 21, 2015
Initial reaction: It's a compelling narrative in many places, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't happy with how it seemed to drag its heels in places, and then the ending didn't really resonate with me as much I'd have liked, chiefly because not all the pieces set up fit together well.

Full review:

"Vanishing Girls" is the first book from Lauren Oliver that I've read in a while (the Delirium trilogy included, and I still need to read the last book in that series). So as much as I've adored her stories, writing, and her eye to intimate details in the past, I'll admit this was a bit of a rough return for me. I checked this book out of the library when I debated between doing that and buying outright. I'm actually glad I did borrow it because I think I would've been disappointed for what the journey provided me.

This is not to say that "Vanishing Girls" was a bad read. It wasn't at all. I actually enjoyed parts of this - a story combining an ongoing mystery with an overarching story of grief (Honestly, I think some people could probably see the end scenario coming, but I'm keeping my references light so I won't spoil it for anyone, because it's one of those stories). The problem is that I'm not sure this book delivered on all of its promises, plus for the way the story builds and builds up to a certain point, the ending was a complete let down. It felt like it wanted to aim for more than it was, and then settled into something that while I could've felt for the scenario, the building towards something more than what it was made me feel burned by the lack of expansion.

The story revolves around the story of two sisters who've had a significant falling out. The primary perspective points of "Vanishing Girls" trade between Dara and Nick (Nicole) as they recover in the aftermath of a terrible car accident, with their family broken as a result of things that have changed since that event. Neither sister's speaking to each other, neither one seems to be willing to face the other with some very bitter grudges held against the other. In the backdrop of this story, a little girl named Madeline is missing and people are undergoing a massive search in order to find out what happened to her.

There's quite a bit going on in this story, to be sure. I listened to the audiobook version of this, and while it was well-narrated by multiple narrators, I did have to pause a few times to try to backtrack to details because of the time jumps (before and after), the multi-perspective points (Nick, Dara, and even Parker), as well as various news clippings, blog articles, and other pieces that provided supplemental details in the backdrop of everything going on in the novel. That being said, so much of the jumps made this a bit cumbersome and sluggish to get through. I took my time with it though (it took me four days to read/listen), and I appreciated Oliver's eye for the girls' emotions and experiences even with parts of the prose and narrative jumps being awkward for transition. I can't fault Oliver for the emotion behind this novel because to date, I haven't read anything from her that didn't have a confident command over the emotional resonance conveyed by her cast of characters.

I followed the story fine, even as the intensity ramped up when Nick realizes her missing sister and the clues that were left for her to follow. It doesn't pull punches on some crude details and the fact that her sister was wrapped up into a scenario that was troubling. But it was the ending the disappointed me the most. All that build-up and exposition and that's what was left? Granted, Dara and Nick's subsequent story could've had more impact for me personally if it didn't feel like there were gaps and plotholes still lingering by the ending of the novel. I like having stuff to think about at the end of the novel, true, but not if it's questions where I'm like "Well, she gave us these details, so you're telling me that wasn't the case? Then how did that exactly come to be? Why did that happen/what really happened?" I understood its intention for being a coming to terms of grief for the sisters, but it just felt like it dumped a bunch of stuff in my lap that ended up not being used at all. What was the point of that? To seem "twisty" and "fresh"? It really wasn't, not with so much of the exposition and detail feeling like it was just filler to march toward a rushed conclusion.

The resolution to the mystery of the disappearing girl (Madeline) was also far too quickly resolved for me, as far as the build-up was concerned. I wanted to feel more for it. As much narrative intimacy as Oliver gave for the relationship between Dara and Nick, why couldn't more of that been provided with the return home for the little girl who was missing? I think that whole scenario felt like it was summed up for resolution in a paragraph, and that didn't sit well for me for a book combining the psychological with mystery aspects.

But for the journey and intimacy this did provide me for Nick and Dara's relationship - I'll give it credit where credit's due, I just wish it'd amounted to more than what it did and not have been so apt to lend to the "twists" that other novels in its category (i.e. "We Were Liars" - and even that had its share of flaws) have done, and arguably have done better.

On a final, and personal, note - I have a twin sister whom I've grown up with and have had a wonderful relationship with for many years. It is true that we probably even have a closer relationshp than even some identical twins are purported to have (we're fraternal, and no - at least no one I know of can mix us up by looks, it's more like our names are super similar and the person says one name and thinks "Oop, I meant the OTHER twin!" Oy vey...). While I can't say I've had nearly as contentious a relationship with my sister as Dara and Nick seem to have in this novel, I could relate to the moments of the novel where they were close and note their overarching relationship as siblings. That and the intiution when you know something is wrong when something happens to someone who's that close to you (that has happened to me many, MANY times.)

Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,670 reviews853 followers
November 23, 2022
you know how it’s not a good joke when the punchline is 'they’re gay'? if your thriller’s plot twist is surprise, they have a mental illness, it’s not good either

Trigger warnings for .

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Profile Image for Lara (Bookish_turtle).
227 reviews196 followers
August 15, 2018
This psychological thriller was okay, but not very thrilling.

Character's were interesting, but development was slow across the book.

The sister relationship was quite unusual? They didn't really feel like sisters to me... IDK

The mystery/thriller vibes were only right at the end which was sad.

Writing was really nice & pacing was good!

The plot seemed to lack direction for most of the novel though...

Ending thoughts: Very clever indeed!

I enjoyed the book, but I just wish that this novel had been more suspenseful!
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
499 reviews60.1k followers
September 12, 2016
I just want to love a Lauren Oliver book, dammit!! This is the third one to leave me feeling just "meh" about it. It has all the elements I like in a thriller, and it had a good plot, a good ending...but not as successful as other novels, even though I hate to compare.

Her writing is the only thing holding this together, I never get annoyed by her style or word choice or tone...her story telling is just lacking for me. There is no doubt she is a talented author...I just feel like she has so much more potential than this!

The pace was weird, the characters not as fleshed out as I want, some cheap distractions, and a predictable, lack luster twist ending that I've seen before, and seen done better.
Profile Image for Taylor.
766 reviews424 followers
May 6, 2015
3.5 stars

I've read all of Lauren Oliver's YA books except Requiem and I've always enjoyed her books. She has such a distinct style and vibe to her books. I feel like even if her name wasn't on the cover, once I started reading the book, I could tell for sure that it was a Lauren Oliver book.
I think all her books have mixed reviews and it's kind of a toss up if someone will love or hate her books. I personally like her stand-alones way more then the Delirium series and even though I seen a lot of mixed her reviews for Vanishing Girls, I knew that I'd want to it no matter what. Lauren is definitely an auto buy author for me.
I definitely think Vanishing Girls was exactly what I thought it was going to be and I liked it exactly how much I thought that I would.

It's hard to explain how I feel about Vanishing Girls because it's very Young Adult in a way that I didn't find to have a whole of anything.
I felt like the plot was all over the place and disorganized. So insanely messy. It bounced from Dara's POV to Nick's. From website posts to personal messages to diary entries. From "before" to "after". Just a whole lot of mess. I had a hard time keeping things in order in my head and towards the last half of the book, I felt really frustrated because I couldn't remember what was going on and I just really wanted to know what was happening. Every time I picked this book up, it felt like starting a tv show in the middle of season 5.

The writing style was so Lauren Oliver. On one hand, it was nice to feel already comfortable with the writing style but on the other hand, I wanted something new and different. If you've read Lauren's books in the past and didn't like the writing style, you won't like Vanishing Girls.

The characters are fairly good. I liked Nick a lot more over Dara, just because I couldn't stand Dara's attitude and I felt like she was written with the sole purpose to be disliked by the reader. I couldn't understand her reasoning for the things she did and I was frustrated with her 100% of the time.

The pace was really quick. I was able to buzz though this book fairly fast. There wasn't a whole lot of boring parts but I felt like the first half was kind of slow.

Overall, Vanishing Girls was a pretty good read. I enjoyed it for most part. It's not my favorite book by Lauren but I still liked it. The plot was pretty empty of substance and it was confusing at times. It actually reminded me a lot of Pretty Little Liars. Entertaining but not the most intricate.
Profile Image for Carlie K.
145 reviews82 followers
May 30, 2015
3.8 stars.
This review is originally posted on The Bookish Girl
You can get this book from Book Depository
I have to admit this is the first Lauren Oliver book I could finish; I read Before I Fall a couple of years ago and I couldn't finish it. I have to say, I'm impressed by this book.

This book revolves around two sisters, Nick and Dara, who used to be each other's best friend. However, after a mysterious accident, Nick and Dara are no longer the same. Dara wouldn't talk to Nick or even show herself. With the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl in town, Nick gets to realize how the two intertwine with each other, and discovers a dreadful truth about her sister.

If you've ever read a Lauren Oliver book, you would know that you need a certain amount of patience in order to appreciate her books. The pace is slow, but I love how Oliver builds up the tension and mystery bit by bit. This book deserves to be savored with care. If you do that, you'll probably be able to guess what's going on when you reach the middle of the book, because of the hints left by Oliver here and there.

Okay, so what's the fun if you can already guess the ending? I assure you, that's EXACTLY what the fun is about! I remember I got all the creeps and uneasy feelings after I formed my guess. Then I started flipping to the previous chapters to see if I could find some evidences to support my theory. After that, I was so consumed by my wild guess that I couldn't stop reading to see if I were right. To conclude, my little mind was dominated by this book, and I finished it in two days.

And after this book? I think I'm gonna give Lauren Oliver another try :)
Profile Image for Lauren  (TheBookishTwins) .
447 reviews204 followers
January 3, 2016
I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

First Impression: Damn, this book was something else.

I love books with unreliable narrators, intentional or not. And, as someone with two sisters (one of them being my twin), I really loved Dara and Nicks relationship, despite the dysfunctionality.

A fantastic book for those who like suspenseful, darker and character driven novels.

Review: I'm not an 'avid' fan of Lauren Oliver. I enjoyed her book Delirium, but have never really got around to the rest of the series. I keep my eye out for Panic and her adult fiction novel, Rooms, but I haven't made myself familiar with her works. After finishing Vanishing Girls, I can't help but think that maybe I should.

Over recent years I decided that if and when I read contemporary, it is more than likely going to be dark contemporary. Someone gets murdered, or blackmailed, or go through something really traumatic and it's character driven, dark and suspenseful. I found that Vanishing Girls was a mix between between that, and a lighter contemporary with swoon-worthy boys and endlessly fun summers.

Dara and Nick are inseparable but are two very different people. A car accident changes both their lives forever and the two, for the first time, become estranged. When Dara goes missing on her birthday, Nick can't help but think that her disappearance and a local girls disappearance, are connected. Nick is desperate to find her sister, and in doing so uncovers some unlikely truths.

As I stated before, Vanishing Girls is very much a character driven novel, focusing primarily on the altered relationship between Dara and Nick after a car accident. For those with sisters with whom you are close to, Vanishing Girls will surely leave an impact. Those who don't, don't worry, because this novel is fantastic nonetheless.

I really enjoyed the contrasting personalities of Dara and Nick, and the thought-processes of both of them, specifically when it came to how they saw each other.

Whilst at the end, everything is sort of turned on it's head, I still loved their relationship and how it's portrayed.

Fans of We Were Liars and Twisted Fate will surely devour Vanishing Girls. Personally, I think that Vanishing Girls is better than the two previously mentioned.

Overall a fantastic piece of work from Lauren Oliver, which explores the ever changing relationship between sisters.
Profile Image for Caitlin V.
111 reviews16 followers
April 1, 2015
Wow... I started this book when I was looking through my kindle for something to read. Noticed I haven't read this one yet, and said 'why not'? I also started reading this book not loving it. I liked the characters, the drama (even though I'm not the drama queen, myself), the story. But it was going really slow. Until about halfway. When everything clicked together, one by one like clockwork. The little girl, the sister, Parker. Everything was so much deeper and meaningful, it filled my heart, shattered it, and put it back together. I was going to give this book a 3 star, but I think the last half of the book was so good, it earned 4 stars. This story was so sad and happy and tearful and thrilling all at once. Could've been better, but I loved it.
Profile Image for Christian.
286 reviews326 followers
June 11, 2015
3,5 Stars

(Mild spoilers towards the end. Sorry, I just couldn't keep them out of this review. So if you're like me and every single hint makes your head go crazy with the sudden urge to figure out plot twists, you should skip the penultimate paragraph.)

Beautiful writing, well-developed characters and a slow, yet never boring storyline because Lauren Oliver never fails to pull me in with her magical choice of words.

Still, the twist. I had, at some point, already considered the possibility of what finally happened, but always shrugged it off because it seemed too illogical - it just wouldn't have made sense to me. So when exactly this happened, I was startled and started flipping back the pages to scenes that, I had thought, would prove the impossibility of said twist. But as I reread these few pages, I found myself shaking my head because it made sense. There was no catch.

Still, I'm not happy with how the author decided to tell us the truth, mostly because it happened too sudden. I expected my heart to be racing for two pages due to the certainty that the big reveal was about to happen, but instead, it just... happened, all at once, and I was so unprepared that it didn't hit me as hard as it could have, had I expected it for a few sentences ahead. And I just realized how orthodox that sounds, but it's precisely what I felt in that moment. In addition, I feel like there is a massive lack of explanation that would have given the whole reveal more of an impact and credibility.

Also, the reveal makes me sad, and not necessarily in a positive way. Because it means that there is a character we never really got to know, and I guess that's what hurts me the most.

Still, if you're a Lauren Oliver fan, you should definitely pick this up. It's a quick read (at least it feels like one while you're reading) with gorgeous writing that will definitely leave an impression. The ending could have used a bit of improvement and I can see why people don't like it, and I'm sure I'll need some time to fully wrap my head around it, but I'm sure that if you liked the author's previous books, this one won't disappoint you, either.
I can't remember the last time I spent this much time on putting my thoughts on a book into written words.
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