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Disappearing Earth

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,285 ratings  ·  460 reviews
For fans of Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife: the kidnapping of two small girls on a remote peninsula in Russia sets in motion an evocative, moving, searingly original debut novel by a dazzling young writer.

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern tip of Russia, two girls – sis
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Knopf
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Julia Phillips That is super, super kind to say – thank you. Both research and personal experience went into this book: I studied Russian for a long time and lived…moreThat is super, super kind to say – thank you. Both research and personal experience went into this book: I studied Russian for a long time and lived for about two years in Russia.(less)
Julia Phillips Yes, an audiobook is coming from Penguin Random House Audio on May 14. I hope it'll be available on Audible very soon.

Community Reviews

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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,285 ratings  ·  460 reviews


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Emily May
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: karen
What answers could Alla Innokentevna have for her? Marina might ask what it was like to see your child turn thirteen, or fifteen, or graduate from high school. How it felt to know, and not just suspect, that if you had been a better parent, more attentive, more responsible, then your baby would not be gone today. How to go on.

Disappearing Earth is quite an extraordinary novel. There is a missing persons mystery at the centre of the book, but no one should go into this expecting a typical myste
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Chaima ✨ شيماء
The correct response to the ending of this book is a violently whispered, “fuck.”

Reading the last couple chapters, it felt like my heart sprang into my throat and seemed to hang there, hammering. Five thousand sentences sprinted through my mind and none of them got to the finish tape. It was as though the blanket of shock that had muted the events of this book was suddenly thrown off, and flooding my senses, was a seethe of feelings: dread, fear, hope, relief, each entangled in the roots of the
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karen
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
NOW AVAILABLE!!!

this is one of those rare perfect books. the fact that it’s a debut only makes it more impressive, and no matter what this author writes next, i will be on it immediately.

i was fortunate enough to stumble upon a free arc of this, thinking-to-self, ‘this looks like it could be good,’ and then when i saw all the high praise it was receiving in its early reviews, i decided to bump it up the old arc-stack and see what all the fuss was about.

lemme tell you, the fuss is earned.

it take
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Chelsea Humphrey
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Emily May
"One hand came up to press on her sternum. Her heart hurt. If Marina could peel off her left breast, crack back her ribs, and grip that muscular organ to settle it, she would. She started having these attacks last August, after her daughters had disappeared. A doctor gave her tablets to relieve the anxiety. Those did not help. No prescription brought her children home."

Wow. It's been a hot minute since a debut novel created such a deep well of emotion in me, so much so that I am shocked that Dis
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Beata
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The premise of Disappearing Earth was the immediate reason behind choosing this novel. The Kamchatka Peninsula is I guess 10 time zones away from where I live, and has always been mysterious and unreachable to me. The landscape and its diversity regarding the population are the main themes of the novel. The abduction of two girls is only the pretext for portraying modern inhabitants, their dreams and failures.
The first chapter tells the story of the kidnapping but if you want to read a thriller
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Tammy
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kamchatka. My only knowledge of Kamchatka was that it is the name of cheap vodka my friends and I drank during our salad days. We re-named it “coming atcha” when we became employed and could afford premium vodka. Actually, the Kamchatka peninsula is located in the far east of Russia and is isolated by water and mountains. Kamchatka is a land of extremes from tundra to volcanoes to verdant forests and the descriptions of the peninsula are jaw dropping. I'm not sure of the reason but I was startle ...more
Debra
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Two sisters ages eight and eleven go missing on the Kamchatka peninsula. Boy did I want to yell at my book "No, no, no, no, no!" during the first story. UGH! The police are quickly called to investigate but find nothing - no clues, no evidence, etc. They are missing without a trace.

This book spans the course of a year with each chapter being another month after the girls go missing. Each chapter is also about a new character. The characters have had their lives changed in some way due to the gir
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Elyse Walters
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
“This could never have taken place in Soviet times,
Valentina Nikolaevna said”.
“You girls can’t imagine how safe it use to be. No foreigners. No outsiders. Opening the peninsula was the biggest mistake our authorities ever made”.
“Now we’re overrun with tourists, migraines. Natives. These criminals”.
“Olya should have kept her tongue behind her teeth. But she asked, ‘Weren’t the natives always here”.
“They use to stay in the villages where they belong”.
Ouch!

Two sisters were last seen -kidnappe
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Diane S ☔
DnF at 40% Wanted to like this but I'm just not connecting with the story. Two you g girls go missing. Each succeeding chapter covers a month since they are gone. Each chapter also introduces new characters, whose life has been marginally impacted by this tragedy. The problem is not only that I was bored, which I was, but that I wasn't taken by any of these characters, just didn't care about them.
Tatiana
May 19, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: 2019
I do wish people would read contemporary Russian literature instead of this Russia fanfic which doesn’t evoke Russia in any way. May I suggest Ludmila Petrushevskaya for example? Imagine if I tried to write a book about American soul after leaving in the USA for 2 years?

P.S. Herring again? Goodness, why?
Holly  B

Putting to the side for now.

Huge cast of characters in each new chapter. I'm having a time focusing and getting easily distracted. May just be the timing for me. Just not wanting to pick it up, so will give it a pause.
Natalie
Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my high expectations. Based on many favorable reviews, I was expecting a memorable reading experience, when in fact it has failed to move me and I could not connect with any of the characters. My biggest issue was the 30+ cast of characters. This type of books annoy me in general - I had a similar issue with Paula Hawkins's "Into the water" and Khaled Hosseini's "An the mountains echoed". But in this specific book, it was not enough to have that many c ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I read the jacket copy for this book, I assumed it was a “who done it,” as the description talked about an ongoing police investigation. I don’t generally gravitate toward missing persons/abduction-type stories; but this is where I think the jacket copy is misleading.

The jumping-off point for this book is the disappearance of two girls and its impact on the community. And as the book description states, the novel focuses on “the intimate lives of a cast of richly drawn, interconnected chara
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Ann-Marie
I keep rewriting my review for this book. I cannot get it right. I don't think I ever will, so I will stop trying.
I will just say this: Two little girls disappear without a trace one day in Kamchatka, a Russian peninsula near Alaska. The police mount a search, but after months with no clues, they are forced to give up.

Julia Phillips paints what has to be a bleak, unforgiving area of the world and gives it light, music, color and life.
Her characters fit. They belong. They are part of what she
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Megan Collins
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a single word, this book was extraordinary. I’ve never read a novel with this structure before; the chapters read like beautiful short stories, each with their own climaxes, each with their own casts of characters. But threaded between them all is the ongoing case of two missing sisters, and we see how these characters’ lives are impacted by or resonate with the girls’ disappearance. I was also blown away by the ending, which will maybe go down as one of my favorite endings of all time. It wa ...more
Tucker
Mar 09, 2019 added it
Recommended to Tucker by: Emily May

Many thanks to Knopf for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

DNF @ 50%
You know something's wrong when you find yourself dreading reading a book. I just could not get into this. I feel really bad because I know that a lot of people loved it. Maybe I will pick it up some other time. For now, I am putting this on pause.

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Andrea Rothman
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The mysterious disappearance of two young girls from the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia is the fuel for this incredibly engaging novel about loss, hope, and the redeeming power of love. When the girls (who are sisters) vanish from their town, little to no clues are left behind them. The possible solution to the crime lies in a handful of people, each carrying their own tale of loss and hope. The novel, told as a sequence of stories whose characters are distantly or closely linked to one another, ...more
Sarah
3.5 rounded down

Disappearing Earth opens with two young sisters going missing in Kamchatka, a remote community in Siberia. From here on each chapter tells the story of a subsequent month after their disappearance but from the point of view of women in the community who have been impacted by the mystery.

While at it's heart this is a mystery their disappearance and the police work takes somewhat of a backseat for a lot of the novel. The chapters read almost like interconnected short stories which
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Donna Backshall
What an odd feeling, to have such a subdued book impact me in such a powerful way. There's still so much I don't understand, yet I feel like I just lived an emotionally exhausting week among the struggling yet strong Russian women of this novel.

Perhaps I'm so overwhelmed because the main character of Disappearing Earth was not a person, but rather an entire place and culture.

Kamchatka is a remote peninsula in the Russian Far East, about the size of California and not far from Alaska. I suggest i
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Jan
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me a bit of Reservoir 13 in the way it deals with the year following the disappearance of a female character. Here, there's less about the changes in the natural world and more abut individuals, families, and communities. Phillips beautifully portrays the setting and lives of people in Russia's isolated Kamchatka Peninsula. The story was episodic, told a month at a time and moving across a fairly large set of characters. I can't say how many, because I listened to the audio, a ...more
Carolyn
This book gives a wonderful introduction to a remote, and beautiful place, almost unknown to many of us. Kamchatka is a peninsula on the Russian Far East it extends from Siberia, and bordered by the Sea of Okhotsk and the North Pacific on either side. Its isolation is mentioned as being a long 9-hour flight to Moscow. The population consists of a majority of Russian descent and the Even ethnic minority, who herd reindeer and are the Indigenous people of the land.

I thought the author evoked a v
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Jill
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disappearing Earth begins with a shot of adrenaline and ends with a gut punch. In between, it is filled with a forward propulsion of female characters who are intricately affected by the opening narrative: two young sisters who are kidnapped in broad daylight from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east section of Russia.

To get a sense of what you’re in for, imagine if Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13 was intermingled with Elizabeth’s Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. In the first book, a girl goes missing;
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Jean Kwok
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeously written, DISAPPEARING EARTH drew me in with its beautifully-etched details of character and place, but by the end of the first chapter, I was gasping at the searing intensity of the story. I could not put the book down and read it all in one, hugely satisfying gulp. I fell in love with each and every flawed, poignant character even as I could not keep my eyes off the central mystery of the two missing girls. The ending was dazzling, unexpected and just perfect. This novel is both a gr ...more
Erin Glover
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars
Similar to how everyone is related in the movie Crash, all the characters are related in this mystery about the disappearance of two little girls across the world in a remote region of Russia.

Phillips introduces us to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, “the last bit of land before sea.” The district is part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, bordered by ocean on three sides and a vast impassable tundra to the north. A witness purports to see Alyona, 11, and her eight-year-old sister Sophia with a man near a cl
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Doug
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5, rounded up.

Although ultimately this was a satisfying read, I did have some problems with it - some inherent in the book itself, some of my own making. The latter was basically that it took me an absurdly long time to get through this relatively short book - had I read it in 2 or 3 days, the momentum would have helped and connections would have become clearer. But the fact it took me 9 days meant I didn't really find it compelling enough to warrant such concentration, so that is really a def
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Bonnie Brody
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started this book and, almost immediately, felt like I was falling into a sinkhole. The ground opened up for me and all I was aware of was this amazing and brilliant novel. I didn't try to climb out. All I wanted to do was keep reading.

Two young girls, sisters, ages 8 and 11, are walking along the shoreline of the Kamchatka Peninsula which lies at the northeastern edge of Russia, when they are kidnapped. For months, the police
investigation turns up nothing. There is only one witness and her de
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Tooter
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars!
Elizabeth
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i can see the structure of this book not working for some. i liked it & settled into it once i realized i was reading linked vignettes (think Olive Kitteridge or An American Childhood). it is after the disappearance of two young girls we are shown glimpses of the investigation through a series of connections. i kept seeing a web connecting the various women to one another while the story unfolded. i was reminded of the louise bourgeois maman sculpture which also uses the metaphor of women & ...more
Holly Reynolds
To me this book was not satisfying. Just as you are getting to know a character a new chapter begins and that character is left behind. The ending was lacking, not a satisfying ending, in my opinion, I wanted more.
SueKich
Jun 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Pricking the puff.

My word, this has been talked up but heaven knows why. It is set in a remote Siberian peninsula and is the story of two young girls who are have been abducted. From this central ‘mystery’ the author veers off to various other unengaging characters before returning at the end to the main plot.

Although skipping vast swathes gets shot of a boring book quickly, it can be counter-productive: one misses the introduction of new characters (of whom there are plenty here) and stands no
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