Book Review: The Vanishing Season

Posted November 24, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 1 Comment

Book Review: The Vanishing SeasonThe Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published by Harper Teen on July 1st, 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

As you all know, I edit. I read differently than I used to due to this, so every so often a book comes along that I pretty much know is not my type of book, and yet there are technical aspects of it that I love and appreciate. This is what happened with The Vanishing Season. I think if I had read this back in 2010 before I started editing I probably would have DNFed it.

Reasons? I found it boring with a lack of direction, I hated the ending–it was basically a non-ending–you know how I feel about all the build up and none of the payoff.  Also, there are very few character-driven novels that actually work for me.

But on that note, I do have to mention how well-developed the characters were. They all have their own quirks, personalities, and voices that make them and the writing unique. I wouldn’t say they felt like real people because it was a bit too far-fetched for my liking, but there is no denying that a lot of thought went into the character development. The problem was that I couldn’t get attached to the characters, and I didn’t really care what happened to them, and as a result, I had no emotional connection to the ending of the book.

The writing was gorgeous though. The author is a master at setting the scene, building an atmosphere, and bringing a setting to life, which is something that a good portion of authors, I am finding, suck at. If the setting is important to your novel, and in most cases it should be, then you need to work on making it feel like a character all its own. This book is a great example of that, in my opinion.

I think the main problem for me was that the story seemed to lack direction. Was it about the serial killer? Life in a small town? Or was it about the friendship/relationship issues between Maggie and Pauline and Liam? I was never sure what the point of this book was or what its intention was overall. I couldn’t figure out what story it was trying to tell. I just kind of feel like it was trying to do too much without focusing on anything enough.

But you know, the characters and the writing and the atmosphere. Spot on. And as a result, this one gets a 3-star rating. I’ve noticed the reviews for this book are rather mixed. I would say that I recommend it to specific people: those that love character-driven novels, and those who prefer writing of impeccable quality. But I wouldn’t read it if you are looking for a proper thriller or a book with a finished plot. This one doesn’t have it.


One response to “Book Review: The Vanishing Season

  1. Wonderful review, Kara! I love that you showed us how your experienced editing have changed you. My experiences beta reading and writing have changed how I read books, so I feel ya there.

    This book. Hmmm. I loved TIGER LILY by her so much, and so I have high hopes for this one. I think when I read a character study, it has to really GRAB me, you know? So I figure TVS either will or won’t. TL is sort of like that too. It hooked me from the prologue, but it…it has a point, but I’m not certain I’d say you’d like it any better. Again, gorgeous writing, and it sounds like it had a bit more direction, but hmm. I think you’d have to try it to really see what you think.

    Anyway, great honest review. Can’t wait to read this book.
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