Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry


Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete’s Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can’t move beyond the fact that Kayla’s fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete’s. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn’t dead—and to find her before she is.

Interesting way to tell this story. There are a whole bunch of viewpoints, but I think the intended main characters are Gabie, Drew, and Kayla. It kind of worked.

The beginning is fascinating, compelling, and impossible to put down. I really liked all the official-like documents and transcripts introduced. It’s great to see everything that’s going on in the search for Kayla, as well as who is involved and who is suspected. And, in the very beginning, it’s not clear what’s going to be relevant info and what’s not. It keeps the reader guessing, which keeps us reading. I loved that.

As the story progresses, though, it becomes obvious that much of the info we’re getting isn’t relevant, like the autopsy report and the interview with Elizabeth Lamb. We were getting too much information at that point, including a few perspectives from the killer. As a result, I muttered to myself on multiple occasions for the story to ‘get on with it already.’ A good mystery plants real and fake clues, but the reader can’t figure out which is which until the very end. And that’s when we see the real clues and go ‘Ohhhh, that’s what that clue was about!’ I didn’t get that sense here. And, the action at the very end wasn’t as suspenseful as it could have been because I kept yelling at Drew and Gabie to just call the cops already.

Drew and Gabie were interesting characters. They felt very real with how they were dealing with Kayla’s disappearance, but sometimes Gabie felt over-the-top. I understand it would be hard to wrap her head around the fact that she was the original target, but still. Some of the things she does are kind of crazy. Kayla’s perspective was probably the most interesting because we see the path she goes on, from her initial fear to resigning herself to do whatever she needs to do in order to escape. That felt very real, and I rooted for her to survive.

For me, the story started out great, but then sort of fizzled into information overload and predictability. I think that if the story had been streamlined a bit more with less obvious red-herrings, this would have been a fantastically strong mystery. 

4 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

Excellent review. It's always nice to be reminded what doesn't work.

Tabitha Olson said...

Thanks! I tend to read this way and examine what works for me and what doesn't, and then try to learn from it. :) It also means that I never really read for enjoyment anymore, which is kind of a bummer. But I guess it's just the hazards of being a writer. :)

Kelly Hashway said...

Too much info is not a friend of mine. I only like what I need to know. The only exception would be if the added info makes me laugh. I'm always up for comic relief.

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