Review: The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

The Vanishing Game
By Kate Kae Myers
353 Pages
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Source: Library

From Goodreads:

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.

So before reading this I had read lots of reviews, and they were all over the board. Everything from glowing 5 star to 1 star or DNF. I was intrigued. How can one book generate such strong differences of opinion? Granted, every book has its proponents and detractors but people seemed to feel especially strong about this one for whatever reason. I was wondering which side I’d agree with. As it turns out I ended up somewhere near the middle. And since the hardest reviews to write are about books you essentially feel neutral or negative about, I’ve been thinking on this one for a long time.

What I did like: all of the little puzzles and things that Jocelyn tried to solve in order to find Jack. The non-supernatural bits of the book. It’s pretty rare for me to prefer real life stuff to the supernatural when I’m reading a book dealing with the supernatural, but it is what it is.

What I didn’t like: The book felt kind of disjointed with the haunted house plot and the Jack mystery plot both competing. It didn’t really seem like they meshed seamlessly. The book requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, even by supernatural standards. I mean, why would Jack send Jocelyn on all of these crazy dangerous missions to find him when a phone call could have accomplished essentially the same thing? I didn’t really like the characters much either, and that’s probably why I had such a hard time connecting to the book. It’s also got the “main character girl who never eats” thing going on to the point where her tiny appetite is mentioned several times. And maybe that’s nitpicky, but it’s becoming a pet peeve of mine. I also felt like the story completely jumped off the rails and onto the crazy train over the last 50 pages or so. I don’t want to give any spoilers but I was like ‘wut?’

Oh, and this actually is a spoiler of sorts, so read at your own risk:
Something about the way Jocelyn’s mental illness is treated at the end of the book really rubbed me the wrong way. It just seemed so…I don’t know, casual or something. I’ve read a bunch of books with mentally ill characters and I’m usually fine with it, but this one really bugged.

Overall I’d say I fall on the negative side of moderate.

2/5 Stars

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