Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: No
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 256 pages
Rating: It's not you; it's me. (But maybe a little bit you.)


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.

This review gives me all the sads, since I was expecting so much to love this for many reasons. 1) Anderson is positively revered in the blogging world for her novel Tiger Lily, which I have not read 2) my dear friend Ellis loved this book (and has a super positive review of it posted here) and 3) THAT SYNOPSIS. It called to me. But sadly, number 3 was the thing that came back to bite me, since that mystical, haunting, mysterious synopsis is completely misleading. What The Vanishing Season actually is is a small, quiet coming of age story, which could be a tremendous thing. But it's not the thing I wanted.

Our main character is Maggie, a girl who moves from Chicago to the remote and atmospheric Door County in Wisconsin. There has been a series of mysterious drownings and disappearances, but Maggie is responsible, mature, and totally boring. That's not quite fair; actually, Maggie could be a very interesting character, except I felt I never got to know her. This is a distant sort of novel. Maggie is one or two steps removed from the third person narration, so I feel like I'm watching her from above or through a looking glass. Which is what Jodi Lynn Anderson is going for, but it's never been a style I've truly cared for. Because for me to care, I have to connect, and I simply couldn't get at Maggie.

In truth, I was really bored by most of this book. The beginning is particularly deadly, because nothing at all happens. And even throughout the rest of the novel, the pace is one step up from deceased.

This is a quiet novel. It's about subtle interpersonal relationships, the realities of growing up, etc. It's about Maggie finding true friendship with Pauline, a friendly and beautiful girl. It's about Maggie dealing with her burgeoning feelings for Liam, who is hopelessly in love with his lifelong friend, Pauline. This was where the book was at its strongest, because it's a love triangle done so right. It was the only time I felt things for these characters, and I quite liked Maggie and Liam, and Pauline's character has quite a lot of depth.

But yes. Basically, nothing happens. Some will love this book and feel all the things. Ellis did. And I really, really wish I had, but that moody, snowbound effect that Anderson created completely separated me from what was going on. She built a layer of ice over all the characters, barring me from them. The synopsis hints at a mystery, but there isn't truly one to be found here. I think that if this had been marketed differently, I would have felt less let down by what The Vanishing Season actually is.

Another huge part of it is me. I tend not to be a quiet novel kind of person. I do not go into paroxysms of delight over a perfect, snowbound setting or the heartbreaking description of the clouds in the sky. I love those things, but I read for character and connection, and for whatever reason, The Vanishing Season didn't find a way to tap into my soul.

The bits that kept me going where the first person interstitials. They're the only part that calls back to the synopsis in anyway, because they're narrated by the "ghost" in the house, that all-seeing nameless entity who watches Maggie and Pauline. AND... I loved the end. It nearly made the rest of this book, though only nearly. I should have seen the end coming, and kinda sorta did, but I'll admit I was sucker punched and let out a little whispered "Nooooooo". It's lovely and terrible and heartbreaking in the way I've always heard Jodi Lynn Anderson can be. But by that time, it was a bit too little, too late, I'm sad to say.


  1. I've also heard how misleading this one was, and I'm sorry you didn't like it. But you should still definitely read Tiger Lily sometime in the future!

  2. Argh, I just don't know with this one. I sometimes go for atmosphere and quiet books, but at the expense of feels? I don't know. Ellis had feels though. But I tend to agree more with you than Ellis. Still, if I love the other Anderson books, I might try this one at some unknown future date. Also, perfect gif is perfect.

  3. Yeah, I think I'm going to stay away from this one cause I wanted a thriller/murder mystery as the synopsis hinted at, and not a quite coming of age story and I know that no matter what, I'm gonna be disappointed reading it...
    Thanks for the great & honest review!

  4. I felt the same way about this one! It was just too slow, too introspective, and too misleading for me to enjoy. I wish the mystery aspects of this had been played up since that's the primary reason I was so keen on reading this one. Still, I can't recommend Tiger Lily enough--I looooved it! It's one of my favorite books out there and I don't think you'll have the same issues you had with this one. I hope it works out for you! :)

    Also: I just discovered your blog and LOVE it! :D

  5. Oh thank goodness you gave me the heads up about this one. I adore quiet books, but I would have been a little miffed too if I didn't know what I was getting into.


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