Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

Jocey's twin brother Jack died in a car accident. Then she received a letter from him using his old code name, Jason December. The letter sends her on a scavenger hunt to visit their past, a past that wasn't always pleasant.

In order to solve the clues and find Jack, Jocey enlists their childhood friend Noah. He immediately tries to strangle her, so we know that they didn't part amicably. All three kids lived in a foster home called Seale House. The negligent and drug-addled foster mother would lock them in the cellar when they misbehaved. The story unravels slowly, how Jocey and Jack ended up at Seale House, their encounters with the other foster children.

In the present, Jack's clues lead Jocey back to Seale House and to visit the people she lived with there. Strange things happen. She is also being followed by someone out to hurt her. They steal her car, they set off bombs in order to stop her. It's like a thriller, but there's also a strange sensation throughout the book that everything isn't quite right. It makes more sense in the context of the big twist at the end.

Ultimately, it's a story about a girl who went through a lot of sucky things in her life. Her mom was horrible, Seale House was awful, and then her twin brother died. Every one of Jack's clues took Jocey to a moment in her past, let her relive the memories of being best friends with Jack and Noah, and let her get over the Seale House memories. A twist ending could easily have ruined the effectiveness of the rest of the story, but I actually liked it. The surreal feeling of the rest of the books makes the ending almost a natural conclusion, though it's no less effective of a twist. M. Night Shaymalan could take some pointers for his next movie.

I received my copy of The Vanishing Game from Netgalley. It's available for purchase now.

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