Title: The Vanishing Girl
Series: The Vanishing Girl (#1)
Author: Laura Thalassa
Genre: NA, sci-fi
In short: so utterly unremarkable. Full of plot holes and pet peeves of mine.
Mild spoiler warning. And length warning haha. I just had to get this all out.
Goodreads: Every night after Ember Pierce falls asleep, she disappears. She can teleport anywhere in the world—London, Paris, her crush’s bedroom—wherever her dreams lead her. Ten minutes is all she gets, and once time’s up, she returns to her bed. It’s a secret she’s successfully kept for the last five years. But now someone knows.
A week after her eighteenth birthday, when frustratingly handsome Caden Hawthorne captures her, delivers her to the government, and then disappears before her eyes, Ember realizes two things: One, she is not alone. And two, people like her—teleporters—are being used as weapons.
Dragged off to a remote facility where others like her live, Ember’s forced to pair up with her former captor, Caden, to learn how to survive inside until she can escape. Only Caden’s making escape seem less and less appealing.
But even as Ember falls for the boy who got her into this mess, she knows that she is running out of time. Because the government has plans for those like her, and those plans might just cost Ember her life.
Take note of the beautiful cover, the intriguing title, and the fairly interesting blurb. That’s right, ten minute teleporting. Mysterious government conspiracies. And new adult sci-fi. Sounds cool, no?
I’m in a good mood, since the greater part of my supreme irritation at this book has had some time to fade. I can control the urge to be scathing, the voice of my conscience is louder, etc., etc. Rant mode is mostly off. So I’ll make a list of all the problems I had with this book.
- Ember’s characterisation. Because Ember understands the dangerous potential her power has—and the crazy situations it can get her into—she’s supposed to be all about survival. But there are several inconsistencies with that.
First, she’s so easily swayed from her escape plan by Caden. I’m not going to take you seriously if a boy is all takes to shift your focus from escaping from a top-secret, dangerous government facility where you don’t want to live the rest of your life doing dangerous things the government makes you do. Come on!
Second, if you can’t find an escape route, shouldn’t you keep your head down and bide your time, snoop around quietly? Not Ember! She practically goes out of her way to get noticed. She doesn’t attempt to wake up early for lessons, she makes a scene in etiquette class, she doesn’t even read the emails they send her —what was up with that, anyway? Why couldn’t they just hand them files? Giving her a laptop and claiming she needs to use it for ‘communication with the higher-ups’ is really just a convenient way for the author to allow her to do research and get involved in conspiracies. You don’t have to be an expert at if-I-were-a-conniving-government-operative to figure that one out.
Third, she gets into the official missions way too soon
isn’t she a special cookie.Okay, fair enough—but she doesn’t even make an effort! She doesn’t read the emails, she does things her own way…If she’s really such an expert at reading people, why couldn’t she have the head to understand discretion?
- The teleportation and genetic manipulation. First off, I thought it was fishy that genes could be tinkered around with so much. I won’t go into detail on that, because spoilers, but I found myself wondering how do you even science? Goodbye, suspension of disbelief. And if you can do that much to the genetic makeup of these kids, why just ten freakin’ minutes? Wouldn’t that be a priority of yours, figuring out how to lengthen travel time?
Also, the way the teleportation works is so ambiguous. If I counted right, there are four basic ways Ember teleports through the book:
a) randomly, which is how it has happened since puberty, apparently;
b) under ‘government control’, which is explained exactly 0 times. Somehow the government has figured out how to send her to places without doing anything to her, leaving her messages, and dolling her up for the occasion. And she can’t do any of this. She can’t even return with her clothes on. (And what’s with that? What does that add to the story anyway? Wait—what happened to the clothes she was wearing when she fell asleep?)
c) to the last place/person she was thinking of before sleeping. I do not understand this at all. Though Ember doesn’t appear to know how the teleportation works, she randomly expects to go to a place she was thinking of? She wonders why she hasn’t been back home, and at one point appears in Caden’s room because he was the last thing she thought of. ???
d) under government control, but this time
without the inverted commashaving been injected with some dubious stuff. So if the government could make them travel anywhere already, why bother with injections? I do not comprehend.
- The insta-love. Because this book wouldn’t be complete without it. Of course Ember goes for her super-hot ‘pair’ (and by the way, shouldn’t pairs be able to work as a team? Why are they randomly assigned like this? How are they even assigned? Shouldn’t there be some sort of test-thing?) Caden. Like Ember, Caden is pretty much a cardboard cut-out except he comes with free unwanted douchebaggery. Remember how Ember returns to her bed naked after teleportation? Remember how Ember can’t be arsed to wake up on time? Yes, Caden wakes her up. And how does he do it? Ripping her sheets off and getting an eyeful. That’s right. And he knows very well that she’s going to be in her birthday suit. And he doesn’t bother looking away. And he does this more than once. What a charmer, right?
Leaving all that out, there’s hardly any real chemistry between them aside from the basic attraction. He’s ‘hot’ and she’s ‘beautiful’. Goshdarned teenagers and their hormones! I couldn’t care less, thanks. Maybe I’d be less annoyed if they were only hooking up—this is NA, so that’s not totally out of the question or anything—but they aren’t. It’s luuuuurve™. Why? Who knows. In fact, it felt to me like the I-love-yous came just in time for the nasty. They literally know nothing about each other. And suddenly Ember’s skinny-dipping with him instead of planning her escape, beating up his friend instead of planning her escape, and whispering the three little words along with other sweet nothings instead of…what was she supposed to be doing again? Oh, right! Planning…what now?
- The girl-on-girl hate. No, I’m never letting this particular form of misogyny go. Why is it that in novels, it’s the girls who always mindlessly hate each other (most often over a boy), cause unnecessary drama, and can’t resolve their catty emotions like good ol’ restrained men? Let’s put ourselves in Meanie™ Desiree’s place. You have a really good friend, one who’s stuck with you time and again, even through your awful issues. Perhaps you think of this really good friend as more than a friend. And this friend now pretty much dumps you for another friend. Even non-romantically, wouldn’t you be well within your rights to be upset at your friend? But of course fiendish Desiree lashes out jealously and unfairly at our darling Ember. And of course Caden does 1. nothing to reconcile a good friend with the supposed love of his life, 2. not much to defend Desiree whom he’s known for so much longer, and 3. doesn’t even make an effort to spend time with her. Bye-bye, handsy, jealous Desiree! Ember is my fave now! And of course Ember, Miss Amazing Reader of People, has no marginally intelligent thoughts about Desiree like the kind I had without even thinking that much or using innate genetic abilities. Really, this makes Ember look insensitive and still more inconsistent, Caden look even more like the cad he is, and Desiree just a Regina George clone. The author goes out of her way to make Desiree the bad guy here, and she does some ridiculously stupid stuff all because Ember beat her up this one time. Speaking of, how did Ember manage to beat up both Desiree and Caden, who have been trained in combat for years?
- The wasted potential. In all honesty, I could’ve enjoyed this book. Perhaps it was always a little too far-fetched for it to make four or five stars, but it could’ve done three. It annoyed me that Ember was the distractor of the team, and Caden the extractor. Come on. Sure, make the girl the seductress, the eye candy, and the guy the one that handles the mission objective. Why couldn’t this have been switched up? At least it would offer originality. The dramatic reveal was so predictable I honestly thought we were supposed to have known already.
Also, there was a bit involving a crime lord who spoke Spanish and had a Hispanic name. And he apparently lived in Columbia.
It literally takes one Google search to figure out that the South American country is spelled Colombia. Unless the author meant the capital of South Carolina—my humblest apologies in that case.
In short, this book frustrated me to no end. My literal motivation to finish was the prospect of sharing said frustration in a review like this. Hugs to everyone who gets through all 1600 words of this. And to everyone who got through this book. Would not recommend.
I received a free galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are taken from an advance copy and are subject to change.