Title: The Vanishing Season
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
I’m just not sure about this book. I wanted to like it, to feel worried about the fate of these girls, to wonder about the characters and what was happening. I just never felt it. The writing was beautiful, but the characters and plot just weren’t there for me. It was supposed to be a story about friendship, with some mystery thrown in, but I never felt that.
Maggie moves to a rundown house on a lake in the north. She’s not thrilled about having to leave her life and friends behind her, but because her parents are struggling for money, she accepts it. She makes it work. Pauline and Liam are her neighbors. Pauline’s mother tries to put on appearances, but ever since her husband and Pauline’s father died, she hasn’t been able to feel happy. Liam’s father is the outcast of the town, and his actions make the town think Liam and his father are crazy. Maggie befriends them both, and eventually has feelings for Liam. In the midst of the move, girls begin to disappear and reappear killed. Panic ensues and Maggie and her friends must try to figure out their new friendship while wondering who will be killed next.
Maggie was a fine character, but I think she needed a little bit more of a backbone. I can see a lot of myself in her. I’d sacrifice almost anything for my family. I’m not very confrontational. I tend to think things through and then overthink them. But I can stand up for myself when I need to. And that’s what I wanted Maggie to do. It’s one thing to allow your friends to push you. But when you let them walk all over you, it’s not healthy. I wanted Maggie to stick up for herself.
Pauline was tough to handle. I really have a problem with the acceptance of her character traits. She was pushy and tended to not think of how her actions would affect others. As a foil, Pauline is excellent. Her character makes Maggie’s qualities stand out even more. But as a person, I don’t think I’d be able to have her as a friend. It was difficult to read. Liam wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great either. I could tell from the beginning how he would play a part, but that didn’t mean I was okay reading it. I understand why things happened the way they did, but I still didn’t enjoy reading it.
I was ready to have a mystery to solve; one that maybe gave me the chills. Instead, the mystery was the background and I never really felt like it was resolved well. I don’t always need a perfect little bow on each open thread of a story, but some sort of resolution is nice. For how much the story would emphasis the mystery at times, much of the story just felt flat. There’d be mystery for a few pages, and then absolutely nothing.
The Vanishing Season is not the book I thought it would be. It has beautiful writing, but that’s about where the great qualities end. It just wasn’t the book I wanted to read, and the characters didn’t make me want to read. I’m sure there are people who will love this book, but I am not one of them.
Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.