Edelweiss · Ghost · review · YA

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson


Hardcover, 256 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss

I was blown away by Anderson’s previous novel, Tiger Lily, and if you haven’t read that yet, I urge you to. Apart from the truly intriguing synopsis, The Vanishing Season had going for it my love of the author’s previous novel. So I went into it expecting great things and to an extent, I found it.

But then the ending happened and well. It took me a while to gather my thoughts properly enough to come to a conclusion I could articulate. And well, this book, while I liked parts of it, ultimately, I did not like it.

I really didn’t. I wish I hadn’t read it, that’s how much I didn’t like it.

This doesn’t mean that the book is bad or the writing atrocious. In fact, that is as far from fact as you can get. Let me pull in some theory to help me express the reasons I did not like this book.

Some scholar or the other theorizing about reader-response theory stated that when reading fiction, the author asks the reader to be a certain character, a certain person and if the reader is unable to “become” that person, he or she will have a dissatisfactory response to the book. In other words, the reader will dislike the book.

I cannot even talk about why I did not like the book without giving the story away and that is the point of a review, right? Okay, let’s just say that the justifications given by the author about the way the story unravels is not something I could accept. I get self-sacrifice and all but come on now. No. I hated what happened to the protagonist of the piece and I could not reconcile myself to the climax of the novel and yep, that’s the way things crumbled unfortunately.

However, rather than letting this discourage you from reading this novel, I feel like you, yes you, dear reader of this review, should read the book anyway because I need someone to talk to about all the feels I felt. Maybe you will like the book – it is prettily written with great atmosphere and description. The characters are individuated quite nicely too. It’s just that I disliked the story. Yep.


9 thoughts on “The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

  1. So I haven’t read this but I feel like I remember you mentioning the possible negatives of self-sacrifice in books before (unless I’m seriously imagining here, sorry if so!) and I think I kind of agree. Scratch that, I do agree. Sometimes it is unbelievably frustrating to read!

    One example of this was the Divergent series. After the ending some people were defending it because they said the core theme of the series had been self-sacrifice. And in my head I was like, no, it wasn’t!! The core theme, at least in the first book, was that you -didn’t- have to be self-sacrificing all the time in order to be a good person. You could value yourself just as much as others, and be yourself, even if it displeased others. But I think sadly that theme feel off in later books.

    I just kind of hate the idea of teaching -teenagers- to be self-sacrificing. YA should not be about that. Especially YA directed at girls. Some sacrificial acts are fine, but there has to be a limit. We should be teaching kids to see the intrinsic importance of their own happiness and goals, not their importance in relation to how much of themselves they can sacrifice for the sake of someone else, especially when they are too young to understand whether that someone else really deserves such generosity. Self-sacrifice should be for adults who have already built and lived their own lives and are ready to give back to others.

    Agh ok end rant. Love this review as usual!


    1. No, I did mention how irritated self-sacrifice makes and your point hits it exactly. It grates on me even more in that it is a girl who is (and inevitable it is always a female character) sacrificing herself. And in this book, especially, after bad things are done to her, there is no poetic justice and argh. The book left a bad taste in my mouth and usually, I reconcile myself to sad endings if they are substantial and logical but this time, I couldn’t. I am just angry.


  2. This is a very interesting non-review. I greatly applaud your reasoning, and like you implored upon us I will be adding this to my reading list. In terms of writing and plot/character development is it on par with Tiger Lily?

    I have a hard time accepting self sacrifice, because I (as a reader) want an ending that I can compartmentalize and put in to a box that my psyche can easily decode, and I cannot easily accept self sacrifice. Just as Justine mentioned above, I have a hard time with YA teaching young people (or old people, or any people) to be self sacrificing.


    1. Indeed. I hope you don’t hate me after reading the book and honestly, I would much rather prefer you read Tiger Lily by the same author than this one. That one too has an interesting ending but I feel that the way that novel ended was justified and logical unlike this one.


  3. That’s an interesting theory about reader-response, that if the reader can’t sufficiently empathize with the character/put themselves in their shoes, that they’ll have a negative reaction to the book. I know that has been true for me on more than one occasion! I totally get disliking a book even when the writing is good quality, because you don’t click with the characters or agree with the choices the author has made in terms of the storyline.

    I have yet to read Tiger Lily, but I have heard overwhelmingly good things about it – good to know you loved it as well!


    1. Yes! Tiger Lily is awesome and I recommend it thoroughly. There are some very fascinating reader response theories and maybe if I ever get time, I will do a more in depth post about them (after I do more research and reading on them, of course).


  4. Well, I WAS gonna un-shelf this, but since you encouraged us so light-handedly not to be dissuaded, I guess I’ll just hold out and see if I like it for myself, after all. ;]


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