Monday, August 8, 2016

Vanishing Girls

Title Author: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver.
Read by:  Saskia Maarleveld, Elizabeth Evans, Dan Bittner, Justis Bolding, Tavia Gilbert, Joel Richards.

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery.

Source: Library.

Synopsis: Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged.

When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick things Dara is just playing around.  But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked.  Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.  ~Goodreads.

Midnyte Musings: Vanishing Girls caught my attention from the beginning, and held it throughout the story. 

I liked main character Nick and felt kind of sorry for Dara.  The dynamics of the two sisters were interesting.  They are envious of each other because they see in each other what they do not see in themselves.  Nick was athletic and smart and Dara was pretty and popular.   Mix that with the boy next door and the jealousy, insecurity and resentment escalate.  

But Nick also discovers that Dara holds a secret and it might be the key to not only Dara's strange and distant behaviors but also a missing child.   The plot was intriguing and at times exciting with the twists and turns.

I did like the alternating pov's of the two sisters telling the story.  It gave insight into the characters and even more once you get to the end.  Oliver also has a lovely and haunting writing style and the chapters flew by.

I admit it, I did not predict the mystery/ending.  A lot of people did, but I guess that was good for me in that I was surprised.  However, I was also annoyed.  I don't mind unreliable narrators, but for some reason, my reaction was less than positive.  I really wonder if Oliver didn't intend to have Dara be dead at first, because it really read like that.  I know this is part of the twist and drama, but it felt a a cheat?  

Narration:  The narration was very good.   No complaints.

Enjoyable.  Worth the read.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Guest Post by Erica L. Satifka - Stay Crazy.

I like killing things.

Not real things, mind you. In person, I'm a pacifist. But fictional things? I'll happily send wave after wave of troops toward certain death in Civilization, usually in the direction of my spouse Rob's cities.

Writing characters, though, is a little different from clicking a mouse on a unit and pushing them into battle. While there are certainly a lot of lighter moments and clever zingers in Stay Crazy, the central conflict is grim: an alien entity that is attempting to destroy the universe by sucking the life energy out of workers at a big-box store. When the victims are depleted, they commit suicide, bringing the world one step closer to annihilation.

Stay Crazy is also the story of a young woman haunted by her neurological issues. Em, our heroine, is faced with such an improbable situation – a second, helpful paranormal being contacting her via the RFID chips in frozen foods – that she's not sure whether or not she's falling back into illness. Like nearly all people with schizophrenia, Em is not violent, and I worked hard to tell her story respectfully and not buy into false stereotypes. (No "psycho-killers" in this book! Or any of my books, ever!)

Even though the two otherworldly beings in the book manifest mostly as disembodied voices, the self-inflicted human deaths are all too real. And it's all massively triggering for Em, who at the start of the book has just gotten out of a mental hospital. Because of the gravity of the overall situation, I didn't want the deaths in Stay Crazy to be mere cannon fodder, and I thought long and hard about the consequences for the plot. Who was this character in relation to Em? Would their death matter? Was I falling into any of the tropes I hate most as a reader? One important character in particular came in and out of my focus as a person to murder. I almost felt like I had them at the edge of a plank on a pirate ship, hovering between life and death, waiting to be rescued (or not!) by my keyboard strokes.

Ultimately, I won't be the final arbiter of those questions. Readers will. But I'd like to think that I took death seriously in Stay Crazy, the same way that I took Em's mental illness seriously, working hard to ensure I captured the nature of her struggle while still creating a compelling narrative.

As for the character I mentioned above? Did they live or die? I guess you'll just have to wait until August 16th to find out!

Erica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Lightspeed, and Intergalactic Medicine Show, and her debut novel Stay Crazy will be released in August 2016 by Apex Publications. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats.

Preorder Stay Crazy at Apex Books

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