Title: The Vanishing Girl (The Vanishing Girl #1)
Author: Laura Thalassa
Published: March 15th2014
Length: 338 pgs
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Romance
Publisher: Lavabrook Publishing Group
The Vanishing Girl is the fourth book I’ve read from YA Author Laura Thalassa. I completely inhaled Thalassa’s Fallen World Series. I was happy to read more of her work. The Vanishing Girl is an earlier work of Thalassa’s published before the Fallen World series. It’s interesting to see the progression of Thalassa’s writing; her writing is more intense in the Fallen world series which is newer. But either way, the gal’s got a talent for creating evocative works which tear your heart into pieces.
The Vanishing Girl is told in first person POV through our main character Ember Pierce; she’s also the book’s namesake. Ember has a unique ability she can teleport. But it’s not your X-men, superhero cliché ability. Ember can only teleport for 10 minutes at the beginning of REM sleep, having almost no control of where she ends up. For five years Ember has coped with this ability while trying to live the life of a typical teenager and hiding it from her parents.
In an instant, the course of Ember’s life changes. Without warning, Ember finds out that she’s part of a government research project and her parents signed a contract for her to work for the government for two years in exchange for the free experimental fertility treatment that brought her into this world. Ember is forced to leave her family and everything she knows on the spot.
Ember Pierce is the first character to take the stage in the novel, and she seems like your typical rebellious teenager, but even she doesn’t realize how much more there is to her until she begins training at the teleporter facility. Unlike the rest of the wards there, Ember isn’t quick to believe everything she’s told. She is observant and inquisitive. Over the last five years teleporting has taught Ember one fundamental rule: Survival is the most important thing.
The next character to take the stage is Caden. Caden is embers pair. Each of the gifted wards at the facility has a pair. Caden has been waiting to be united with his pair a long time. He’s looking for someone to love him the way his family failed to. When you learn Caden’s history it gives you some perspective on why he stopped Embers escape; he needed her. But Caden has much more depth. He wears a mask, he sees much more than he lets on. Caden is loyal to a fault, so much so that as their relationship develops Ember realizes it will come down to Caden choosing her or the program.
The villain is Dane Richards. Well, at least he’s the front man since technically the villain is the Government. Dane Richards has no qualms about using these kids for his ends. I often got the distinct vibe that Richards’ agenda and the government’s, are not 100% the same. These kids are an ongoing experiment. And will eventually die on a mission unless Ember finds a way to shut down the project.
Thalassa is expert at stringing her readers along. Situations are created to incite questions within the reader’s mind. Dropping hints and revealing the purpose along the way. In fact there are several questions I had while reading for example: how do they control where the teleporters go? The author makes it clear in the beginning that the teleporters only have very minimal control over where they go, and we later find out that it can be overridden by whoever it is behind the scenes controlling their ability. And this question gets a partial answer but not a full explanation, you have to pay attention to catch it.
Another question was about the pairs and what precisely that meant. We do get a full explanation. I’m not going to spoil the book for you so… it’s none of your business. In the end, some things were left in the air. Also, the book ends with a cliffhanger (sad face). I wondered for most of the book… who-the-heck dresses them when they teleport, heads up you do not find out in this book.
Intimacy is probably one of the hardest things to write, and I’m only guessing based on how many cheesy, romantic scenes I’ve read over the years. Sometimes even the best book from your favorite writer can have a cheesy, horribly unrealistic romantic scene that makes you want to throw your book across the room. Well, guess what Thalassa’s got it down pat.
Our characters are 17 and 18, inexperienced sexually, at least I’m pretty sure Ember is. Things are kind of Vague about Caden. But either way my point is the author understands how interactions work in real life. Thalassa has managed to accurately capture the progression of the intimacy of the characters from nervous uncertainty, to the point where they are ready to jump in. Honestly, it was refreshing. Authors so often fail to capture this in a way that makes it realistic. Thalassa paced the romance, slowly building up to the inevitable climax of the characters getting together. They did what normal teens do they made out, exploring each other, and the relationship progressed naturally.
On a Random note, I think Caden is my new book boyfriend. For now, anyway.
The pace of the book is even. Once I buckled down and started reading, I finished the book within hours. I would’ve finished several days prior, but I had been having trouble getting motivated to read mostly because of an emotionally charged reading slump.
There was one instance where I felt the Ember’s reaction, was a little “extra,” but that was it. The characters were realistic, personalities believable, and throughout the book, I felt the characters stayed true to who they were while growing and showing the reader who they are.
The Overall theme of the book is a Governmental abuse of power. And the overall tone is dystopian. Thalassa has created a world inside a world. The teleporter facility is a separate ecosystem. Dane Richards controls the program and every aspect of these kids’ lives other than missions, some of these kids haven’t had access to the outside world since they were 13, and for the others, once they are brought to the facility the only way they leave is in body bags.
The Vanishing Girl is an Upper YA/ New Adult book. I would recommend for ages 16 and up. The book contains scenes that are intimate as well as sexual situations which are descriptive but not erotically graphic; there are also possible triggers for teen pregnancy.
I read a few reviews of this book, which I usually don’t do when writing a review; a few were very critical. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’ve also written critical reviews but, I think sometimes people read more into things than what’s there.
One reviewer was upset that Ember was, so “easily swayed” against escaping by Caden. Did this reviewer skip the part, where Ember cased the facility and realized that escape was going to be a little more complicated than she initially thought. At no point did Ember ever give up on escaping she just decided to be smart about it.
Another reviewer issue was how Ember could dare fall in love with Caden after he continuously failed to respect her privacy, and, in the reviewer’s, opinion was a misogynist. I wondered about the reviewer’s grasp on reality. Sometimes you don’t like a person when you meet; they may do things you don’t like and act like a complete A-hole. However, it does happen in real life, that as you get to see a different side of people and get to know them your perception of that person changes. They grow on you and friendship, or romance may blossom.
I enjoyed this book, and I’m immediately starting book two The Decaying Empire now that I’ve finished this review. And that review is forthcoming.
Interested in more From Laura Thalassa?