The Vanishing Season
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publish Date: July 1st, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary, Supernatural
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.
Some books are so misleading.
Although Goodreads marked it as a “Thriller”, I refuse to classify it as so. It was the complete opposite.
I was so excited to read this book when I first saw it on Goodreads a few months ago, so imagine the happiness I felt when I got my hands on a copy from the library. Imagine the unhappiness I felt when I realized that the book was not focused on the disappearing girls so much as the love triangle and every day, monotonous life of Maggie, Pauline, and Liam. The blurb made it sound like a mysterious, paranormal, possibly crime novel depending on how you took it.
Instead I got a contemporary. I had been in the mood to read something that was on the opposite side of the spectrum, preferably adventure or something like that and picked this up thinking that it would fit the bill.
And why was that? The first sentence on the inside flap of the cover says, “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.” They shouldn’t have emphasized how girls started to vanish in the fall because it made me believe that it was going to be a major part of the novel when in reality it accounted for less than a fourth of it. The vanishings may have led to different situations in the novel, but it most definitely did not impact the characters as much as it seems to suggest in the summary. This pissed me off to no end.
The book itself was not a bad read by any means (especially if you compare it to other books). It’s mainly from Maggie and a ghost’s point of view. But it’s a dull read. It’s a slow, boring read. Nothing ever happens. Nothing. I kept waiting for something, anything to happen but nothing really did. And then when something finally happens at the very end, it’s anti-climatic. I’m fairly certain that it was supposed to be surprising to the reader but the rest of the book was so boring that when it happened, it too, was boring. I didn’t think it was horrible but it could have been so much more than it was.
Maggie forgot about her old life in Chicago rather quickly. Her family did have money issues (which isn’t a spoiler because it’s mentioned pretty early on in the book) which again, wasn’t addressed explicitly in the book. It was like a passing though, something forgotten quickly which is strange considering she just moved. She was a solid character. Characterized well had somewhat realistic interactions but then again all of the characters did. The thing about these characters is that even though they were characterized, I found difficulty in connecting to them. It might have been how bored I was with the book or just the fact that I found them unrelatable and in a life completely different from my own. I don’t see myself at all in any of the characters. I didn’t like any of them. Especially Liam. I hated Liam. I don’t know if it was his “nice-guy” attitude or the fact that he seemed to have no purpose in life or even if it was how he didn’t seem to know what the heck he was doing in a relationship. Pauline wasn’t much better. Her supposedly “cheerful” and “unique” personality got on my nerves. Instead of being the girl that Maggie described her to be (mysterious, beautiful, etc.), she was stuck-up, demanding, and just downright b*tchy. It seemed like everything that Maggie wanted and was happy with, she had to take. Even though they were friends, they didn’t really know each other the way friends should. Maggie was self-deprecating and spineless. None of these characters were likable.
The one good thing in this book was the prose. The writing was great and the book had a lot of beautiful quotes. I liked the way that Anderson described the situations and concepts that she addressed.
“If I could show you the lives of the people below me-the colors of what they all feel heading into this chilling, late fall-they’d be green and purple and red, leaking out through the roofs, making invisible tracks down the roads.” page 90
“Dinosaurs, glaciers, people living in sea caves, millions of years of organisms. And Pauline and Maggie and Liam are just tiny specks in it all. Why do they seem so large?” page 124
The writing in The Vanishing Season is beautiful. It’s lyrical and pretty and just beautiful. Even so, beautiful writing does not make this book any better. Maybe if the book had been more like the premise suggested, it would have been a more interesting read.