Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Review: The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

Standalone book
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: 16th January 2014
Read Date: 12th June 2014
Tagged under: 2014 read, 4, YA fiction, mystery or thriller, paranormal
Pages: 384
Buy at: Amazon, The Book Depository

If you're reading this, then it means you're close to finding me...

Seventeen-year-old Jocelyn follows clues apparently from her dead twin, Jack, in and around Seale House, the terrifying foster home where they once lived. With help from childhood friend Noah she begins to uncover the truth about Jack's death and the company that employed him and Noah. 
Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes - and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December" - the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.
But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in? The answer is revealed in a shocking twist that turns this story on its head and will send readers straight back to page 1 to read the book in a whole new light.

Book Review [Spoiler Free]

I picked up The Vanishing Game on a whim given that it's different from what I usually read and the cover is fairly spooky. Plus, I was holding the book to its promise that there is a shocking twist at the end that I will not see coming.

A quick scroll through Goodreads will find that most readers either really enjoyed it or hated everything to its core. There is no mixed ground. I, fortunately, belonged to the former group. I found The Vanishing Game to be a relatively fast-paced suspenseful young adult novel that, in the end, really did surprise me.

The Vanishing Game centres around a seventeen-year-old girl, Jocelyn, who is facing down her childhood fears whilst trying to find her brother - who everyone believes is dead. She would have believed it too if it weren't for the mysterious letter that she received from Jason December - her twin's code name. Once she confirmed that it wasn't sent by Noah, the only other person who knew that name, Jocelyn was determined to find out where the trail of clues lead to and exactly what happened to her twin.

While some reviewers have said they saw the plot twist coming from a mile away, I must admit I was blind-sided right until the end. I think part of that stemmed from my fixation down one particular angle which meant I didn't really think too hard if there were other possible explanations for everything that was happening. (though to be fair, even if I were open-minded, I don't think I would have thought of this) What powers does Seale House contain? Who is sending them on this trail of clues? Is it Jack? If Jack is really dead, then who else is doing it? And what is their purpose?

The plot, as mentioned previously, is fairly fast-paced. There is always a sense of urgency with a hint of impending doom. Jocelyn's foster parents think she is out camping with friends and will be back home in a week. Whenever they get from one clue to another clue, there always seem to be someone on their trail. (Who exactly? And what do they want?) Things happen out of the blue. The clues keep leading them to another clue. The intrigue-filled plot kept me flipping from page to page.

The clues are also a highlight of this novel. Some of them are really cleverly thought out and others are a bit more abstract but interesting none-the-less. A few of the stock standard ones, I enjoy trying to work it out before reading on. 

The ending definitely surprised me. I thought it was quite clever and although yes, it does take a bit of a stretch of imagination to swallow it all, I was willing to go with it for the sake of the story.

Overall 4/5

Is this the best written story I've read this year? No, not really. But it is fast-paced, entertaining and a bit different from my usual reads so I enjoyed it nonetheless. 

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