The Vanishing Game

 
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The Vanishing Game
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 14, 2012
ISBN
1599906945
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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.

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Overall rating 
 
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The Vanishing Game review

When it comes to creepy books it seems to me there are three types of endings: 1) the open ending, as in, did something actually happen or is the narrator just some kind of crazy?; 2) the paranormal ending, a.k.a it was all a ghost/vampire/were-rabbit; and 3) the ending that you never could have seen coming. Personally, I generally go for the third type. Sure, open endings can be good and occasionally there's a paranormal reason I can get down with, but generally, those types of endings just bore me. Luckily, The Vanishing Game falls into the third category.

I suppose the ending is more of an amalgamation of all three, but it falls mostly into the third category for me. The mystery that drove me to the end of the book so quickly didn't disappoint when all was finally revealed. I don't want to talk much more about the ending, though, since it would kind of ruin the reading experience if you knew what was going down ahead of time.

I really enjoyed the creepy vibe The Vanishing Game had. It walked that thin line between realistic creepy and over-the-top creepy. There's was the real-life stuff with the shady software company and the random attacks, but there were also the unexplainable occurrences flashback memories. I think the fact that the plot was centered around a dangerous, puzzle-filled treasure hunt upped the suspense and mystery so that every little unexplained thing was all the more jarring and frightening. And it didn't hurt that the town itself as well as Seale House (especially through Jocelyn's point of view) were dark and gloomy.

The romance between Noah and Jocelyn just didn't really do it for me until the end. I mean, it kind of made sense since these were feelings carried over from her childhood, but I could've done without it. In the end, though, it was fitting. Noah's not really a guy to swoon over, but he's not really meant to be either. Much of Jocelyn's affection for him developed in childhood and we only get glimpses of that.

If I had one complaint it'd be Jocelyn's constant need to point out her foster child status. I'm not disputing her terrible childhood and that foster kids do generally have it bad. That being said, it felt like she turned almost everything into a foster kid pity party. Multiple times she talked about her car and her netbook (why couldn't they have just called it a laptop?) and Noah's place pointing out every single time how important personal possessions are to foster kids. Once or twice would have been good enough, especially coupled with the other instances I can't recall off the top of my head.

The Nutshell: The Vanishing Game was a thrilling book threaded through with a good amount of creepy. The mystery kept me flipping pages 'til the end and I never guessed the outcome despite my many crazy guesses. The romance felt a bit weird and out of place to begin with, but worked for me by the end.

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