Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Gone Girl meets Pretty Little Liars in this fast-paced psychological thriller full of delicious twists and turns.
Friendship. Obsession. Deception. Love.
Kalah knows better than to fall for Beth Taylor . . . but that doesn't stop her from falling hard and falling fast, heart first into a sea of complications.
Then Beth vanishes. She skips town on her eighteenth birthday, leaving behind a flurry of rumors and a string of broken hearts. Not even Beth's best friend, Britney, knows where she went. Beth didn't even tell Kalah good-bye.
One of the rumors links Beth to Britney's boyfriend, and Kalah doesn't want to believe the betrayal. But Brit clearly believes it—and before Kalah can sort out the truth, Britney is dead.
When Beth finally reaches out to Kalah in the wake of Brit's suicide, Kalah wants to trust what Beth tells her. But she's swiftly realizing that nothing here is as it seems. Kalah's caught in the middle of a deadly psychological game, and only she can untangle the deceptions and lies to reveal the unthinkable truth.
I do not read YA mysteries/thrillers very often, but something in Vanished really caught my attention. Maybe it was the pretty awesome cover, the connection made to Pretty Little Liars and Gone Girl or the promise of a diverse characters. Whatever it was, I am happy that I picked it up because Vanished definitely surprised me positively.
Though Kalah loves her best friends Beth and Britt, she does not exactly feel like she fits in. Whereas Beth and Britt are popular in their own right, Kalah knows that people notice her just because she was chosen by Beth and Britt to be their friend. Despite feeling like she is not quite equal within the trio, she feels like B & B are the best friends she has ever had and she cannot imagine her life without the two of them. Then Beth, someone she has been feeling more that friendly feelings for, disappears and everything changes.
Kalah was very interesting character to read about. In addition to her somewhat problematic thoughts about her place within the trio of friends, she struggles with anxious feelings. I think Cooper describes the actions of an anxious character quite well in this novel and at no point did I feel like she has used it just a character trait. Rather, she writes about it with honesty and with detail. At points, Kalah embodies traits on an unreliable narrator, especially as she admits that she has a tendency to always think of the worst possible scenarios. As the plot thickens, it was interesting to speculate whether Kalah is on the right track or whether her anxious tendencies are making her see things that are not actually there.
Beth and Britt are both interesting characters to read about. The way Kalah describes them makes them familiar for the reader and what I especially enjoyed was reading how Kalah's thoughts about them change as a result of twists and turns in the plot. Through the novel, Cooper excels with complex characterization and character development, and throughout, it was interesting to read about these characters that are not quite what they first seem to be.
Vanished is a very intriguing murder mystery/twisted relationship study filled with surprises. Though the pacing could have been a bit quicker, as a result of which maybe couple of the parts I found a bit boring might not have felt so extended, in general I was really intrigued about finding out the truth about what happened to Beth and how the dynamics of the friendship trio change was Kalah starts to unravel the truth. I really also enjoyed the diversity Cooper has added to the story with a half-Indian main character that is not quite sure of her sexuality. I think in general Cooper writes really well about the confusing feelings Kalah has about her feelings for Beth and how those feelings differ from those she has for her long-time boyfriend.
Vanished definitely made me interested to pick up more YA thrillers/mysteries. Cooper has here a very impressive, well-build debut that YA mystery loves will most likely devour.