By Kate Kae Myers
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
February 14, 2012
Mature content: non-graphic depictions of child abuse
My summary: Jocelyn and her twin brother Jack survived a tough upbringing in a foster home called Seale House. Now a young adult, Jocelyn is getting her life back on track when Jack is killed. Reeling from her loss, Jocelyn is shocked and shaken when she gets a cryptic letter that seems to be from her dead brother. She immediately goes to visit Noah, another former resident of Seale House and now a co-worker of Jack's, to ask for his help. The situation becomes "curiouser and curiouser" as Jack leads Jocelyn and Noah on a merry chase with coded notes. But things aren't at all what they seem...
My thoughts: If you've heard about this book, you've probably heard about The Big Twist. Yes. I knew it was coming, but I didn't figure it out.
I often have mixed feelings about stories that rely heavily on The Twist, because the first 95% of the story can feel like set-up. Banking on The Twist can also be risky. Once the secret gets out (and it usually does) the effect is similar to attending a surprise party when the guest of honor isn't surprised: *cue sound of air leaking out of a balloon.*
That said, I did enjoy this book and I do recommend it to those who love codes, puzzles, and things that go bump in the night. The author juggles a bunch of balls in the air, plot-wise. There are the mysterious notes from Jocelyn's brother, the flashbacks of the children's horrible past in Seale House, and a sub-plot about computer espionage. There are parts that made me wonder if Jocelyn is victim or villain, plus a tepid romance. But when I got to the end, I realized that most of these crosscutting subplots and flashbacks were needed to pull off The Twist.
I LOVE codes and cryptography and secret agent stuff. So that part of the book made me happy. Unfortunately, the codes in the book are meant for the characters; they don't allow much of a chance for the reader to match wits with Jack, Jocelyn and Noah.
In the end, I admire what Kate Kae Myers was able to pull off. I always root for an author who takes a risk, rather than relying on safe and familiar tropes, and The Vanishing Game is a refreshingly different addition to the YA genre. If you love to be surprised, you should definitely add The Vanishing Game to your TBR -- but beware of spoilers!
Now ... Hunger Games Trivia 5
If you haven't heard, my blogging friend Shanan the Book Addict and I are co-hosting a Hunger Games trivia and giveaway in honor of the film's March 23 release. Our giveaways run from March 3-March 16. Answering a question -- right or wrong -- gives you a chance to win some great Hunger Games themed prizes. Here's today's question:
After the gong sounds and the Games begin, the tributes run to grab supplies from the Cornucopia. Which of these items does Katniss grab and then drop after a tussle with another tribute?
a) a water bottle
b) a sheet of plastic
c) a loaf of bread
d) a backpack
To enter your answer, remember that today's question is number 5, then go here:
To enter Shanan's giveaway, click here.