Book Talk: Vanishing Girls

8:30:00 PM

I'm trying to do a thing...a thing where I attempt to share my thoughts about every book I read during the year 2015. Because why not? And also because it’s March, and I’m nothing if not an excellent procrastinator. I’ve already got several books to talk about, but I’ll start with the one I finished most recently:

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t often find myself “repeating” authors. I have a tendency to be disappointed in the books that I read after The Book That Made Me Love This Author. Perhaps that’s not fair to the writer or the novel, but it seems like the first book (the first one you read, not the first one they have written) is an extremely difficult act to follow. After finishing Vanishing Girls, I was left with the overwhelming feeling that I would have felt differently about the book if I had read it before Panic (which I will talk about some other time) or Delirium (The Book That Made Me Love This Author). All this is to explain that while there’s nothing wrong with Vanishing Girls, there’s also nothing that makes me feel differently about my first book rule. It’s the same way I felt after finishing Before I Fall. It isn’t a bad book. It feels like Lauren Oliver - her prose feels as powerful as ever, and her depiction of relationships between characters never feels overdramatic.

Vanishing Girls is well-paced, and I enjoyed the multimedia integration (photos, texts, emails, news articles, etc.) Vanishing Girls is not as visceral an experience as Panic, and Nick and Dara’s world wasn’t nearly as captivating or well-developed as Lena’s in Delirium. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s a reason I break my first book rule for Lauren Oliver again and again - its because her voice resonates. Because her stories feel authentic. I guess what I’m saying is I can’t provide an objective look at this book, because my reaction to it has been altered by my other experiences. What I see and feel after having read this novel will differ vastly from someone who disliked Lauren Oliver’s other books, or who has never read one of her books before. Edmund Wilson said, “No two persons ever read the same book.” And maybe that’s what makes talking about books so much freaking fun.

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