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Disappearing Earth

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  39,251 ratings  ·  5,271 reviews
Beautifully written, thought-provoking, intense and cleverly wrought, this is the most extraordinary first novel from a mesmerising new talent.

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia, two sisters are abducted. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tig
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2019 by Scribner UK (first published May 22nd 2019)
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John Addiego Like Karen, I loved the ending. A crazily shocking surprise is really hard to pull off, but I thought the author did it. At first I thought there migh…moreLike Karen, I loved the ending. A crazily shocking surprise is really hard to pull off, but I thought the author did it. At first I thought there might be a dream narrative or earlier time involved, but the mention of the other abductee made it clear. So, why was it plausible for me (besides the fact that I really wanted it to be true)? The extreme geographical and cultural factors, the isolation, harsh climate, racism, historical and political backgrounds all contribute. It's an amazing novel in stories. Maybe the intention is that if we listen to each other's stories, we can find the answers, even the missing girls, that we failed to believe possible to save.(less)
Socr8es We do know that Malysh was a Samoyed and that they "run," which is to say, they like to be on the go, not cooped up. We know that the Samoyed breed is…moreWe do know that Malysh was a Samoyed and that they "run," which is to say, they like to be on the go, not cooped up. We know that the Samoyed breed is hardy and a close descendant of wolves with powerful survival instincts. And if you know about Sammies outside the book, you know that they hate being cooped up. Of course Malysh "ran" when he got a chance--it was either that or tear up the place. I hate that Oksana lost her dog. Truly. (Another terrible loss in a novel full of losses and aching sadness.) But if you have to have a dog disappear in a novel in a snowy climate, what better choice could Phillips have made? :)x(less)
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chai ♡
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
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 mys
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST MYSTERY/THRILLER 2019! what will happen?

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 an
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes going into Disappearing Earth as I had heard so many great things about it. But it pretty much disappointed me from beginning to end. I think this is a case of mismatched expectations and experiences. Everything that others loved about this book are all the same reasons I don't.

The premise of this book is interesting enough: two young girls disappear from a Russian town, which sends the the townspeople reeling over the next few months as the investigation turns up nothing. Excep
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? It’s a book set in Russia, about Russians, written by an American who lived there for a couple of years. It can be a recipe for an awkward disaster — can be, but really isn’t. Phillips avoids the easy and common trap of exploiting an “exotic” locale precisely for its differences from what your intended audiences know, the trap that can lead to crossing the line from respectful to insensitively offensive or at least laughably ridiculous. When y ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
there were many things that lead to me to believe i was going to love this, and i really wanted to. the cover, the title, the synopsis, and my love for russian culture all prepared me for a wonderful story. so its rather disappointing when expectations completely differ from reality.

in addition to this book ending up being different from what i thought it was going to be, i also wasnt a fan of the storytelling. this reads like a collection of seemingly unrelated short stories. i personally foun
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This was an excellent novel about Kamchatka, an area in Siberia which many of us only know as a coveted piece of land in the game Risk. Julia Phillips takes us to the heart of a kidnapping of two young girls on this isolated peninsula and describes the aftermath in the various communities during the year afterwards. Filled will interesting characters, cultural tidbits (the author has apparently spent lots of time there on Fulbright grants and the like), and the writing is quite good. I truly enj ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
High concept, low return on reading investment.

I was eagerly anticipating this novel, placed it on our book club's roster, but what I found was a series of short stories very loosely connected to the disappearance of two little girls. I didn’t go into this believing it would be a thriller, on the contrary, I was hoping for something akin to Strout’s Anything is Possible where the interconnected stories built a complete picture. What I found instead were vignettes of lives orbiting the main event
Elyse  Walters
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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”.

Two sisters were last seen -kidnappe
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, russia, 2019
4.5 Stars

”The sameness of each day, each year, acted like the endless reopening of a cut, scarring those summers into her memory.”

Set in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, home to the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere, a practically untouched location by man that is home to an abundance of wildlife. Reindeer, brown bears, wolverines, sables, Siberian bighorn sheep, it is also home to the majority of the world’s population of Steller’s sea eagles. A pristine paradise for those who
May 19, 2019 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
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?


Disappearing Earth in many respects, at least on the surface, reminded me Jon McGregor's Reservoir 13. Both novels start almost the same way, only in Julia Phillips' book two girls, sisters Alyona and Sofia, went missing. And at both titles initial situation is merely a ground for subsequent events. Both authors focused not on the mysterious disappearing, though we never lose it from sight, but took this as an opportunity to weave stories of place and people. In my estimation McGregor is mo
May 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of different cultures
Recommended to Paula by: National Book Award
This was a very different book. I did enjoy it. Nice to have a setting in a far off part of Russia. I do like to read about others cultures.

This was the story about people living on the fringe. Seeing from their eyes...their homeland, and the way that they exist...

Two children know their lives are in danger or they are no longer alive...

I’m glad to have read this book and to have received a better understanding of Russia...or at least a part of it...

The ending is
Julie Christine
In Russia's Far East, the Kamchatka Peninsula knifes between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. It is a 1250km-long blade serrated by volcanic mountains, honed razor-sharp by unrelenting cold, empty tundras, bears, wolves, and a history of violent encounters between Kamchatka's indigenous people and mainland white Russians eager to plunder its vast natural resources.

Julia Phillips chooses this perilous landscape as the setting for her mesmerizing, fierce debut, Disappearing Earth. The st
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn’t what I expected it to be. It had a gripping storyline that related to the kidnapping of two young girls in Russia. It was more like reading several short stories tied together by the kidnapping. Overall it was an interesting book but I wasn’t really Blown away by it. It left me wanting more.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
The reason I added this book to my TBR list is because I love the cover. After cataloging it for my library, I left it sitting on my desk for a couple of hours just to admire the cover when my eyes needed a break from the computer. The colours are exquisite! I had to read the book, just because I fell in love with the cover. Thankfully I didn't waste my time on a book I hated. It paid to judge this book by its cover!

Set on a remote peninsula in Russia, the book opens with a chapter on two young
Elle (ellexamines)
Disappearing Earth is a mystery around the kidnapping of two girls, but it’s primarily a book about connections: the ways in which one disappearance stands for something different to each, and the way in which the knowledge of said disappearance can connect people in different cities, from entirely different backgrounds.

The Russian peninsula of Kamchatka is, above all else, isolated. The region was isolated by military law from 1945 to 1990, and is surrounded on most sides by water, featuring o
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
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Disappearing Earth" is an exquisitely beautiful and deeply haunting novel: a tale of two girls' abduction that is actually less about them or even the search for them than it is about the world from which they have vanished. And what a world it is: the Kamchatka peninsula in post-Soviet Russia. Julia Phillips is a terrific writer, with sentences that are lean and precise, and a soul that seems rich with empathy. ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappearing Earth transported me to a world that I barely knew existed, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. The setting, like the painting on the cover, is vivid and memorable. The book is a series of snapshots of women loosely linked by geography, one for each month of the year after the disappearance of two young girls. I loved learning about life in Petropavlovsk and the Peninsula and flipped back and forth to the map constantly.

The blurb on my book calls it propulsive and suspenseful which
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
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.
Jennifer Blankfein
Kamchatka is a beautiful, remote place on the northeast end of Russia, with limited access by land. Two little girls disappear off the face of the earth one day after they get into the car with a man who claims he has an injured leg. The community is deeply concerned and affected. In Disappearing Earth, Julia Phillips tells us month by month, from a different female character perspective, what life is like and how the sorrow and sense of loss impacted their relationships and decisions.

With fear
Megan Collins
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Julia Phillips' superbuzzy Disappearing Earth pulls a bait and switch, and then it pulls a bait and switch on the bait and switch, and its ending honestly outraged me. Like I read the ending and thought, distinctly in my head, "I'm outraged."

It opens on two little white girls getting abducted in Kamchatka, which is a remote area of Russia. It's like the Maine of Russia. Here's the first bait and switch: so you think it's going to be a thriller, right? A mystery! Where are the little girls?

or as
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MCMLS Mitchell Fi...: Facts and Conspiracies 7 7 May 05, 2021 02:51PM  
MCMLS Mitchell Fi...: Xenophobia and “Othering” 5 7 May 04, 2021 07:37PM  
MCMLS Mitchell Fi...: Viewpoints and structure 13 10 May 04, 2021 05:37PM  
Play Book Tag: Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips, 4+ stars 7 20 Feb 28, 2021 04:56PM  
Girly Book Club M...: January 2021 - BOTM 4 20 Dec 21, 2020 04:38PM  

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