Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Enchanting Review: The Missing Girl

YA Thriller
ISBN# 978-0-06-623776-3
284 pages
Print – Available now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

There is a man. He appears nondescript, which is the way he prefers it. He lives in an isolated house with two cats, each named after one of his parents. He harbors a few dark secrets, but from the outside, no one can tell. No one really notices him at all, which is why he can so easily watch the five Herbert girls.

These five sisters, Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy, and Autumn, are completely unaware of the man who watches them. They instead go about their own lives, dealing with school, unrequited love, and their own hopes and dreams while bickering and getting along as only sisters can.

These sisters take each other for granted until they find out that one of them will be sent away to live with a relative to ease the Herbert’s financial troubles. But it takes the disappearance of another sister to really bring the others together. THE MISSING GIRL tells the story of these sisters and their secret watcher while seamlessly weaving in themes about family and love.

I really liked the premise behind THE MISSING GIRL, a group of girls and their stalker, and the alternate narrations which gave the perspectives of each sister as well as the mystery man. However, the frequently changing points-of-view were sometimes confusing and unbalanced and actually worked against the novel in the end. The problem was that each girl had her own story, as did their stalker, but Mazer only follows through with a couple of these threads. Also, I would feel sympathy for one of the sisters only to have her narration cut off by another sister; thus I would forget the first sister. It was difficult for me to get attached to these girls despite the short bursts of sympathy I felt for them. Frankly, there was too much going on in the beginning for my taste and not this entire plot jumble survived until the end. I was also disappointed that the story wasn’t more exciting. Despite THE MISSING GIRL’s less than satisfactory execution, I enjoyed the insights into the mind of the kidnapper and his victim and the importance of family. This novel was an ambitious attempt but unfortunately, not entirely successful.

Norma Fox Mazer is the author of numerous other young adult novels besides THE MISSING GIRL, including MISSING PIECES, OUT OF CONTROL, and AFTER THE RAIN.

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

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