Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls

by Lauren Oliver

Genre: YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Published: March 10th 2015
by HarperCollins




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.


I’ve read four of Oliver’s books to date, and I have to say that, while it is still flawed, Vanishing Girls is my favorite book of hers that I have read so far. This is an eye-opening story about the dynamics between siblings, and a chilling mystery and psychological study on top of that.

Months ago, sisters Dara and Nick weren’t just sisters; they were best friends. All that changed in the blink of an eye after a traumatic car accident, which turned them into enemies. But when Dara disappears on her birthday, Nick can’t shake the feeling that she’s in trouble.

…Don’t ask me how I know. I just do. If you don’t understand that, I guess you’ve never had a sister.

Her fear is solidified when another girl – 9-year-old Madeline Snow – is also reported missing. As the clock ticks, it’s up to Nick to find both girls before it’s too late.

The story is written in two different time periods – before and after the accident – and from two different narrators – Nick and Dara respectively. While writing from this many different time periods and points of view is definitely a bit risky, Oliver managed to pull it off.

Dara and Nick are two completely different people; and yet you can connect to both of them quite easily. Nick is your typical overachiever, the kind of girl who never gets in trouble and is extremely intelligent. Dara, on the other hand, is the complete opposite – constantly being reckless and making bad choices.

The way the sisters see each other and their relationship together is the highlight of the story. Oliver manages to capture the relationship between the two sisters in a way that is so accurate, and through all the grudges and the hate, you can see how deeply they care about each other.

As someone who reads a lot of psychological thrillers, I wasn’t very surprised by the twist that is pulled at the end. The twist used is certainly an intelligent one if used properly; but it’s been used in so many other thrillers and mysteries that it didn’t perpetrate the shock factor from me that it could have.

Lauren Oliver has written a thriller that doesn’t just thrill; but also manages to dive deep into the relationships between sisters as well. While the eventual revelation is a bit predictable – especially for those who are avid readers of thrillers – it is still worth the read.


78 thoughts on “Vanishing Girls

  1. SO WITH YA, ZOE! I’ve read all of her books but Panic (I had such bad luck with her that I gave up there). Finally Vanishing Girls popped up and I love a good thriller and wasn’t going to pass it up. It’s the only one I love but I don’t LOVE, if you know what I mean? So yup, my favourite but not my favourite author. I don’t know. I guess she just doesn’t write for me. It’s not as though her writing isn’t gorgeous, I think it may be her characterisation? Hmmm…or the tangents? I can’t pinpoint it. I liked the twist BUT I did not like the execution at all. It was sloppy and therefore I felt like it didn’t have that much merit, you know? But overall, pretty good haha FABULOUS REVIEW, ZOE! You always capture my exact thoughts <3

    1. …my favorite but not my favorite author.

      I think that sums it up perfectly Jess. While it wasn’t perfect, it was still much better than Panic and Delirium.

  2. I’m quite curious about this one. The only thing that’s putting me off from reading it is the narration bouncing between the past and the present… and I’m just not really a fan of that style. And two different narrators? Eh. I don’t know. BUT I like thrillers — so I might end up reading it anyway. Lovely review! I also love the cover.

    1. The bouncing between the past and the present is a little confusing in the beginning, but once you’re into it, it’s amazing. Thanks Kara!

    1. Your comment echoes my thoughts exactly Christy. This wasn’t a bad book, it’s just not a stunning one. I can’t help but think if I would have liked it more if I didn’t read so many thrillers, you know?

  3. I agree, I wasn’t particularly surprised by the twist either (fine, I wasn’t at all) but I still really enjoyed the book, because I think you are right- at the core, it is really a story about sisters! And I just LOVE Lauren Oliver’s writing in general, so this one was a huge win for me. Glad you liked it too 🙂

    1. I completely agree Shannon. I think I might have enjoyed the twist at the end more if I didn’t read so many thrillers since this is such a common twist, you know? Thank you!

  4. I LOVED THIS ONE. Definitely my favourite Oliver read to-date. Although, I did enjoy the dysfunctionality of Rooms and The Spindlers was endlessly adorable. XD But omg, Zoe, we need to find you an epic book! I think you’ve rated a million books 3.5 now. 😉

    1. This was my favorite Oliver book to date as well Cait! (I really need to stop being surprised at how similar we are, but I don’t think I ever will. 😉 ) And not a million…just like 99. Ha. 😉

  5. Great review, Zoe! I recently checked out this book from the library, but I have yet to read and review it. Your review prepared me for when I do decide to get cracking on it! I’m so happy I came across your blog.

    Julia Anne

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words Julia Anne! Looking forward to seeing what you think of this one – I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did!

  6. Sounds interesting. But my guess is that you’re not a huge Oliver fan? 🙂 Do you have any recommendations for psychological thrillers? I love them, but I don’t read much of them.

    1. Ha – no, not really. 😉 But this is definitely my favorite of hers that I’ve read, so hopefully that says something.

      As for psychological thrillers: Dangerous Girls and by Abigail Haas is absolutely fantastic. It will blow your mind and I hope if you decide to read it that you enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂

  7. I didn’t really get into Panic, but when I read Vanishing Girls it really wowed me. Oliver’s writing just has this captivating quality to it I find, and this story was pretty creepy, especially with the almost toxic sister dynamic. Great review Zoe 🙂

    1. I completely agree Eugenia – this one has such an amazing atmosphere to it that really testaments to Oliver’s writing style. Thank you!

  8. “The dynamics between siblings, and a chilling mystery and psychological study on top of that” and I’m sold. I really love when you say chilling mystery. I have seen this one around but now I’ll have to push it up on my TBR list. Great review 🙂

    1. Yeah! Glad you’re hooked Tanja! I hope if you end up reading it that you enjoy it as much as I did!

  9. Absolutely agree Zoe, that twist was way too predictable, but as the first book of hers that I’ve read, I must say that I did enjoy it a lot more than I thought. I really liked the dynamic between the two sisters, their relationship was done very well and it felt realistic. Wonderful review Zo, glad you enjoyed it overall! xx

  10. I keep hearing good things about Vanishing Girls. I haven’t read anything by Lauren Oliver before, but I think this might be a good place to start 🙂 Great review Zoe!

    1. If you haven’t read any Oliver books, this is definitely the one I’d recommend you start with. Thank you!

  11. I haven’t had much luck with Lauren Oliver, Panic was the final straw. Stupid idiotic book. Honestly, not even worth the matches to burn it. But I’m really curious about this one, and I love an awesome thriller. Even with the twist being predictable, more often than not, it has to be really obvious for me to be able to pick it up. I usually end up so absorbed in the storyline that it just doesn’t like. It’s wonderful being oblivious. Awesome review Zoe. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new era for Lauren, I don’t think she could get any worse than Panic if she tried.

    1. Panic made me facepalm more than I would have liked too Kelly. 😐 But this one was definitely much better. 😉

  12. Sorry the end wasn’t that shocking or exciting, but it’s still good to hear you enjoyed the book nonetheless. I haven’t read anything by Oliver, but I know I need too.

  13. Wow, your favorite Lauren Oliver book, huh? That sounds promising, even though I’ve read quite a few YA mystery novels and haven’t been too impressed with them so far. 😛 But I think it’ll be hard for any other book of Lauren’s to beat Delirium, which was one of the first YA books I’d ever read and which I loved. Speaking of which, I need to get to her later books soon!

    Having two sisters myself, it’s always so nice when sibling relationships are portrayed realistically and relatably. And it sounds like that’s exactly when Lauren did here. It’s great how she was be able to show the care and love between Dara and Nick, despite all the other negative emotions. I can imagine that it was no easy feat to write like that. O_O So the time period + dual narrations kind of scares me a little, but I’m relieved that Lauren was able to pull that off, too.

    Boooo, sucks that you were able to see that twist coming, though. Your powers of deduction are just too good! ;))) But I’m glad that you were able to enjoy this in the end. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to read it in the future, too! Awesome review as always, hon!

  14. Like you Zoe, I’m a lover of psych thrillers and would probably find this predictable as well, but I love the chilling story behind it. And the sisterly relationship sounds like it’s portrayed really well too. Wonderful review lovely <3

    1. I know you and I seem to have similar tastes when it comes to thrillers, so I’m curious to see what you think of this one Jeann. 🙂

  15. Oliver’s books are either a hit or miss with me and her last two have both been misses. I’m curious about this one and i love a good psych thriller so i’m willing to give this one a try, even if parts of it do ring predictable. Lovely review Zoe!

  16. I don’t know about this one, I keep hearing mixed reviews.. I love the sound of thrillers, but I feel many do.. suck. They don’t usually have the thrill feeling of them. I do want to give this one a go though maybe, wonderful review Zoe 🙂

    1. I agree Benish. It’s like the dystopian fad all over again, except now with thrillers. 😐 Thank you!

  17. Hmm I’m glad you still liked it. I have only read one book by Oliver, and that’s Delirium. And even though I loved that, I also read that 5 years ago, and my tastes have changed. I’m just not sure I could jump back into her books haha. BUT MAYBE ONE DAY I WILL READ THIS.

  18. This review is making me so excited, Zoe! A bookstore company here has sent me 5 copies of this one (LOL) to read and review and to give away on the blog and I’m thrilled to know that it perfectly captures the complex sisterly relationship these two heroines have. I know it’s pretty mixed right now, the reviews for this one, but heck, It’s a psychological Thriller and I loved her Panic (even though many thought it average) so I just know I’ll love this one 🙂

    1. LOL…they must be desperate for Ms. Review Queen to review it. 😉 I hope you end up liking it as much as I did Faye!

  19. Wow I literally had no idea that Lauren Oliver published a new book recently ðŸ˜Ū (I’m so unupdated asdjkfl;) As always, LOVELY REVIEW! For some reason, I feel like I’ve seen a book nearly as similar to this. I forgot the title, but it was about 2 sisters (twins) in a car accident as well… O_O Anyway, I’d love to read this soon! I love reading about siblings and family because it’s such a heartwarming topic!

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful review, Zoe!!!

  20. So glad you liked it Zoe! I’m not personally a fan of Oliver’s books myself, but I AM a fan of a good thriller. I’m just not sure I want to read another of Oliver’s books (I sometimes feel like a black sheep with her).

    Fab review, Zoe! 🙂

  21. I’m almost positive I’ve never read a Lauren Oliver book, but I think it has to do with the fact that I was never interested in her previous series. :/ This one does interest me though! I really enjoy thrillers, and its gotten some pretty decent reviews throughout the blogosphere. It’ll probably be a library book though, especially if the revelation at the end wasn’t *that* great.

    Awesome review as always, Zoe!

    1. I think it would do great as a library book Sydney. Looking forward to hearing what you think when you get a copy of it. 🙂

  22. Personally, I thought the book had some pacing issues. It moved a bit slowly at times for me. The ending was crazy twisted though, in a good way. I am glad you enjoyed it so much.

  23. I am glad you enjoyed this one so much, Zoe! I haven’t read a single book by the author to date (but own the first book in her Delirium series?) so I think I need to fix that and what better place to start than a psychological thriller?

    Also, I totally know how you feel in regards to that twist. I feel like I’ve read too many thrillers/mysteries to really be surprised by what’s thrown at me but if a twist, one a see coming, is executed properly, I can still get behind it and like the way it works.

    Lovely review, hon! 🙂

  24. I’m pretty interested in this one, because Ive read a few positive reviews, and I just like the sound of it overall. I love books that focus on sibling relationships, and ones that I haven’t experienced are always interesting. I don’t have a sisters, haha XD I cannot even imagine what having a sister would be like to be honest.

    It’s a shame that the twist was predictable, and when I eventually get around to reading this one, I’ll be interested to see if I can pick it! I don’t read A LOT of thrillers, but I am really good at guessing plot twists XD

    Lovely review, Zoe!

    1. You should definitely give this one a try Chiara! I hope if you do that you end up liking it as much as I did!

  25. I’ve had a tough time with Oliver’s books and writing in general. This one wasn’t even on my radar but I MIGHT have to give it a try now! I love reading books with sisterly relationships, I’m curious to see how theirs plays out. Ugh, isn’t it the worst when you’re complete underwhelmed by the twist? Lovely review!

    1. To be completely honest, I’m not much of an Oliver fan either – Delirium and Panic were kind of meh for me – but this was my favorite book of hers so far. Let me know if you do end up deciding to try it Rachel! <3

  26. YES! I agree with you 100%, Zoe! I’ve actually loved all of Oliver’s books from the start, except for Panic, which really didn’t seem to interest me at all and I ended up DNFing it. But Vanishing Girls was the only novel of hers that took a psychological thriller route and I adored it. I ended giving it a 4/5 rating, for something that was missing, and I agree with the predictability. Awesome review, I’m so glad that you enjoyed this!

  27. I’m in complete agreement with you…I ended up giving this a four out of five too! But again, the ending kind of disappointed me. It seemed like the easy way out, especially as these kind of endings aren’t even unique anymore ;/ I’ve only read Delirium by LO and again, I wasn’t too impressed, unfortunately. LO and I obviously don’t have the best of relationships 😛

    But I’m so glad you liked it, Zoe 🙂

  28. I am such a huge fan of Lauren Oliver even though I don’t always love her books (which is really weird). I just think her books are very well written but sometimes the endings are a little eh for me. I am still super excited for this one and glad you enjoyed it!

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