The Vanishing Girl by Laura Thalassa promised to be exciting and thrilling, with adventure and teleporting girls, but it ended up being creepy and disappointing.
Every night after Ember Pierce falls asleep, she disappears. She can teleport anywhere in the world—London, Paris, her crush’s bedroom—wherever her dreams lead her. Ten minutes is all she gets, and once time’s up, she returns to her bed. It’s a secret she’s successfully kept for the last five years. But now someone knows.
A week after her eighteenth birthday, when frustratingly handsome Caden Hawthorne captures her, delivers her to the government, and then disappears before her eyes, Ember realizes two things: One, she is not alone. And two, people like her—teleporters—are being used as weapons.
Dragged off to a remote facility where others like her live, Ember’s forced to pair up with her former captor, Caden, to learn how to survive inside until she can escape. Only Caden’s making escape seem less and less appealing.
But even as Ember falls for the boy who got her into this mess, she knows that she is running out of time. Because the government has plans for those like her, and those plans might just cost Ember her life.
I was so excited to read this, because I love teleportation antics. But antics was the furthest thing I got. Thalassa has some great command of language; I was curious, nervous and intrigued throughout most of the book. She knew how to twist a phrase and make the language really soar. The main character, Ember, is feisty and headstrong. She can fight her way out of anything and knows how to survive; she has a goal and she does everything she can to get there.
Then along came Caden.
Caden was the whole reason I wanted to drop this book and light it aflame. (Okay, metaphorically. I was reading on my Kindle.)
Caden is another teleporter, the first Ember meets when she’s recruited into the secret government agency that essentially creates these teleporting spies. Caden is, to put it lightly, a Grade A Creep.
Once he captures Ember after she escapes the government agents who came to collect her on her 18th birthday, he handcuffs her and invades her privacy. He gropes her inappropriately, goes through her things and shows off the underwear she packed in her escape backpack. When at the government facility, he makes an effort to force Ember to be naked in front of him, multiple times. Every time Caden came out, I was furious.
Then he and Ember fell in love, and she forgave his creepy advances and inappropriate actions almost immediately. I didn’t believe their love, not even if the story tells me they were literally made for each other, and the only way I’d ever want Ember in the same room as Caden is if she were going to court against him to get him incarcerated for sexual harassment.
In short, this creepy and abusive love story killed the entire book for me. Had Ember been on her own, even forced into partnership with the cliche bitchy girl who was her “love interest’s” ex, I would have been so much more thrilled with this book. If Ember had to come to terms with her ability and learn under someone who wasn’t as awful as Caden, I would have given this book five stars.
Sometimes, a love interest makes for a better character and a better story. But this time, it did nothing except make me want to throw up at every mention of Caden. Had Caden’s shitty behavior been punished instead of glorified and rewarded, I might have been okay with it.