The Vanishing Season, by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery-Thriller
The living always think that monsters roar and gnash their teeth. But I’ve seen that real monsters can be friendly; they can smile, and they can say please and thank you like everyone else. Real monsters can appear to be kind. Sometimes they can be inside us.
This book is so weird.
I love Jodi Lynn Anderson’s craftsmanship, as I did in Tiger Lily. She thinks outside of the box. She doesn’t follow tropes, like the girl gets the guy in the end. This makes her books unique, a trait that isn’t commonly found among YA anymore.
There’s this thing in YA where a group of teenagers open up their own private investigation, despite authorities’ protests, and end up solving the case on their own. Obviously, this is highly unrealistic, as there are not many teenagers who are intelligent enough to do this, or have the resources available. It’s not going to happen in real life, and I know this—but I don’t really mind, because for the most part, I’m concerned about entertainment. I’m willing to stretch reality for my own enjoyment.
The Vanishing Season has a serial killer. He kidnaps and then drowns teenage girls, and their bodies are found floating in Lake Michigan. This led me to believe this book was a murder mystery, but it’s not. What happens in The Vanishing Season is as real as they come: girls are murdered, an investigation is opened, a guy is arrested and found not guilty, and the real killer is never found.
This is realistic, but not at all satisfying. Why would you put a serial killer into a story if it’s not going to be explored? Why are there ghosts if there’s no ghost story? In real life, there are things you will never know, and I think that’s what Anderson was going for here—but in literature, you find the killer, even if they’re not caught. Not doing so is almost cruel. Readers read mysteries and true crime novels because they want to find out all of the details. That’s why such an open end to the killer made me so furious.
In reality, this book is about Maggie, Pauline, and Liam, three teenagers who live on Water Street in Gill Creek, which is located on the peninsula of Wisconsin. Their friendship starts out strong, but as events occur, it starts to dissipate as romantic feelings are revealed. I didn’t mind reading about them, admittedly; they’re an entertaining bunch.
“I don’t even know if it’s him. I called Elsa, and she said she’d have one of the guys at the Emporium talk to him. She won’t talk to him herself, because she thinks he’s the killer.”
Pauline let out a loud groan. “Everybody thinks everybody is the killer. The lady at the 7-eleven says it’s that guy Sam from the Gill Creek Maritime Museum, because he has sinister eyebrows. I think it’s Liam.”
Liam stared into the fire. “I did it with s’more sticks.”
Anderson’s exceptional writing abilities made this a hard book to put down, which is why I couldn’t rate it two stars. I’m just really disappointed that it wasn’t the book I thought it was going to be.