Title: The Vanishing Game
Author: Kate Kae Myers
Genre: YA Horror
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
Eh, where to start.
Okay – positives. There is enough here to like that I finished the book. There’s plenty of action and adventure, with some creepy set pieces that made me feel a little shivery. I also liked the idea of the puzzles that only Jocelyn could solve, leading her to her presumed dead brother. Also, girl returns to creepy foster home has tonnes of ghost story potential.
Aaaand, it’s all wasted.
This is a book that definitely has a case of ‘trying to do too much-itus.’ A ghost story with a missing brother – I could go for that. A ghost story with a love story – I could go for that, too. But when you start throwing in spies, ninjas, corporate corruption, telekinetic superpowers, techno-thriller elements and a whole load of other stuff, it just becomes a great big fat mess.
As such, the revelations came so thick and fast it was hard to feel moved by any of them. There were tics in the writing that in hindsight made sense, but as I was reading got so lost in all the other stuff that was going on that I didn’t see it as foreshadowing, more bad editing.
The characters were all horrible to each other. Noah was utterly unlikeable after he strangled Jocelyn then decided he’d be best buddies with her again. You were given a reason for this later on, but it made no sense at all, and became another one of those ‘oh, that happened, how do I feel about this? Indifferent’ moments.
I didn’t know whose side anyone was on – and not in a good ‘Game of Thrones/Lost’ sort of way either. The motivations of the characters made no sense, and everyone was way too accepting of the final revelation. Which also made no sense – HOW DID NO ONE EVER NOTICE?? I can’t really say more than that without spoiling, but seriously, this huge major thing happens and no one in the life of the person it happened to ever noticed. Except the shady company that Noah works for, who seem to know everything and yet can’t keep track of a memory stick…
Anyway, before I just get snarky, I’ll finish by saying that there’s a lot here that could have worked. As about four separate stories. All stuffed into one book of only three hundred or so pages, it just doesn’t work.