I read these two books one after the other, not realising how similar they would be! Both are YA psychological thrillers, which is a genre I haven’t had very much experience with. I enjoyed one, and the other not so much, but I’ve decided that the missing person trope is one I could read more of; both books did make for compelling reading, even if I was dissatisfied after Vanishing Girls!
Game Theory – Barry Jonsberg
1st June 2016, 320 pages, 4/5 stars
I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan of thrillers, but Game Theory might just have opened my mind. I couldn’t put this book down – I devoured it in two sittings!
In the early chapters of the book, a 17-year-old rebel (Summerlee) wins the lottery using some random numbers her mathematics whiz brother (Jamie) throws at her. Jamie also explains game theory in this first section. I’m dislike maths intensely, but I found the explanations pretty easy to follow, and it’s really interesting!
Summerlee goes completely crazy with her money. She cuts all ties with her family, buys herself a mansion and throws drug-fuelled parties. The family isn’t coping very well with Summerlee’s rejection. And then Phoebe, the youngest and most beloved member of the family, is kidnapped.
The kidnapper seems to know game theory, and Jamie thinks he can predict the next move. Although I think Jamie is a total idiot for ignoring police advice, the story still managed to be incredibly gripping. I really really loved the final chapter – there was an insane twist that just made the story!
Vanishing Girls – Lauren Oliver
10th March 2015, 336 pages, 3/5 stars
I really liked Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, which I read when I was in Year 9. I haven’t tried her Delirium trilogy though I have heard good things. Therefore, when I saw a reading copy of Vanishing Girls I had to give it a try.
Nick and Dara are sisters, but they are incredibly close. That was before the accident though. The accident that left Dara’s face scarred and drove a wedge between the two girls. A nine-year-old girl, Madeline Snow, goes missing, and shortly afterwards, Dara vanishes. Nick becomes convinced that the two scenarios are connected, and is determined to find the two girls before anything sinister happens.
The story flicks between Before and After, as well as between Nick and Dara. Sometimes I got confused about who and where I was supposed to be. Scattered throughout the story were blog posts and news articles about Madeline Snow’s disappearance – I really liked that aspect to it. It served to balance the narrative a little, when the perspectives were just too confusing!
There is a major twist at the end, and I really really hated it. I thought it was a bit lazy – what my little sister would call the ‘I woke up and it was all a dream’ effect. (It wasn’t exactly like that though – that isn’t a spoiler!) I finished the book feeling dissatisfied and confused – I’m still not entirely sure what happened…
What do you think of the missing person trope in crime novels? Does it work?