Review of Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

vanishinggirlscoverVanishing Girls
By: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 10th 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Print ARC
Source: Goldberg McDuffie Communications

A copy of this book was provided in consideration for an honest review.

My Rating:

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

My Thoughts:
I wasn’t sure about Vanishing Girls when I started it…I’m not typically all that into contemporary but this book looked, from the summary, to have a bit of a twist and mystery aspect. The vast majority of the novel was focused on Nick and Dara’s broken relationship with each other and their childhood best friend (and maybe more) Parker.

The novel flips between Nick and Dara’s point of views so you get to see how the other felt about their accident, Parker, parents and one another. It was so incredibly sad to see the sisters have such a rift between them. I have an older sister and couldn’t relate to their jealousy, hatred and insecurities. My sister and I were team mates and though we hung out with the same group in college we never competed in the nature of these two sisters.

Because of this I found it interesting to consider that some sisters have this type of relationship-interesting and really heart breaking. Dara and Nick avoid each other throughout the novel and only through the flashbacks do we see them interact and how they used to be. Watching them grow apart was really difficult though I’ll admit I was intrigued.

I had issues really liking many of the characters though I did feel that they all had unique personalities and their wants, motivations and desires were realistic. I had so many issues with how the sisters treated one another and really it broke my heart. Also, Parker. Don’t get me started on this guy. I was not a fan though my heart broke for him in some ways. Overall I enjoyed Nick’s perspective more than Dara’s. I’m the baby-sister and I couldn’t relate to Dara’s emotions towards her sibling-I could see that some sisters probably feel this way but I’m thankful that I did not. That’s me reading this book- extremely happy my sibling dynamic was nothing like theirs.

For me the entirety of the novel had a creepy aura that I enjoyed. Something felt off as I read and this kept me reading. Nothing was outwardly wrong I just had this prickling sensation. Nick works at an amusement park and the place felt haunted (and rumor was that there really was a resident ghost). The story barely touched on this but I really enjoyed the creepy addition.

Lauren Oliver has a beautiful writing style that some might find wordy but I really enjoy. The novel, for the most part, had a slow pace until the final stretch. There was a twist, as all novels have, but I won’t go into it in detail but I will say I felt it was a tad sloppy. Regardless of that, I didn’t see it coming so that always wins points in my mind.

Final Thoughts:
Vanishing Girls was a sad and difficult read due to the sisters ever present rift and the negative emotions between them. The writing was beautifully done in my opinion and that creepy feel that Oliver was able to subtly include added a lot to my reading experience.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver Review

By: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins

My Rating:

Summary (via Goodreads):
They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.
Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.
But we have chosen a different road.
And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge

No outright spoilers but I will reference the ending 

The Story:
The prior books both had heart-wrenching endings that left me downright angry it was over and I’d have to wait for the next book to be released. I have been looking forward to this last installment and couldn’t wait to dive in once I had it in my hands, overall I was not disappointed.

In Requiem there are dual point of views: Lena and Hana. Both stories were equally engaging and emotionally charged. Oliver wrote wonderful slow scenes that progressed the story but were also based on Lena and Hana’s emotions. She also mixed in some wonderfully written action sequences that had me skimming paragraphs so I could know the outcome (then going back and reading slowly to really enjoy it). Most of the book moves at a comfortable pace and rarely was I tired of the setting or felt that the story arc was not progressing. It had a great build up to the main conclusion, weaving Lena and Hana’s stories together, but when as I neared the end I began to fret that all the loose ends couldn’t possibly be tied up in the few remaining pages.

There has been a lot of talk about how Oliver chose to end the series, some people have felt disappointed and underwhelmed. I knew this going in so I believe it lessoned the blow for me. I wasn’t that disappointed but I would have enjoyed more closure.

The Characters:
I was happy to delve more into Hana’s story after she was cured and found that I enjoyed her story as much as Hana’s. Not only was I invested in her character I was surprised by some of her admissions. And the mayor’s son, Fred… what a character he turned out to be. Seeing Portland through Hana’s cured eyes gave me insight into a society where love is a disease and attempted to be removed. All the cured people Hana encounters through her journey all seem harsh, rude, bitter, indifferent or downright evil.

Lena continued to be pulled between Alex and Julian yet the romantic aspects were toned down in this book focusing more on the rebellion. I got a sense that it was so much more than just Lena’s choice of men and more about the fight for the right to have a choice. I enjoyed her character growth and watching her really be capable of being a leader.

Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed the journey Oliver took me throughout the series and I was sad to see it end. Overall, I enjoyed Requiem and recommend anyone who enjoyed the prior books to pick this one up.  You might not have the exact closure you seek but I felt it was a good series ending overall.

Official Requiem playlist

Buy this book:
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Fox Orders a TV Pilot of Delirium

DeliriumLauren Oliver confirmed yesterday that Fox Network has ordered a pilot for her best seller, Delirium. You can see Lauren Oliver’s announcement here.

Summary (via Goodreads):
THEY SAY that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now.

Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected
with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

Book two of the Delirium series Pandemonium is out now. Look for book three, Requiem expected to release in March 2013