The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

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.

You can read an excerpt here.


Wow. I mean, wow. 

Here’s the thing you need to know about The Vanishing Game – you absolutely cannot fully comprehend the awesomeness of this book until you have read it through to the very end. It took me until the very last pages to understand everything Myers had going on, and once I did, it was like a firework went off in my brain. This book is SMART – it has a whole other side that you won’t see coming – and it literally left me agog.

Little did I know when I started this book just what it had in store – though the story starts smoothly, quickly establishing that no one is safe and something dangerous is afoot. Jocelyn sets out to find her missing brother, quickly teaming up with her old childhood friend, Noah, to follow the bizarre clues Jack seems to have left for them to find, even as their lives start to unravel around them – dangerous encounters, deadly strangers, strange and spooky happenings – and we the reader end up trying just as hard as Jocelyn to figure out what is really going on.

Here’s another thing about this story – if I had stopped halfway through this book, I would have thought it was solid, but I wouldn’t have known it was brilliant. When Jocelyn and Noah began tracking down and solving all the different cryptograms and ciphers Jack left behind, I started to suspect this story was going in a Da Vinci Code direction, and I started to drag my metaphorical feet a bit. But guys, trust me – you HAVE to keep going. You’re in good hands with Myers, and the puzzle she’s laying out isn’t just about the mystery of what happened to Jack, it’s also about the mysteries of Jocelyn’s and Noah’s childhood, and it delves into some brilliantly dark and painful places. This heart of this story isn’t about solving puzzles, it’s about facing the demons of the past.

I should also mention, the atmospherics of this novel are downright genius. This story literally unsettled me as I read it, because aside from its classic horror trappings – a spooky, ramshackle house with a terrible past – it really lives in and around the ways in which kids can be damaged and broken, and the ways in which ordinary people can be the scariest things off all. So many of the awful things that happened were so terribly real that it made the story all the more unnerving.

And now I’m going to be as vague as I possibly can so as to avoid spoilers: the kernal of the idea that lies at the heart of this story is something you have probably seen before, in one form or another, but the genius of this book is in how you absolutely won’t be able to see it until after you’ve read the end. When I compare this book to a major film from not that long ago that was built along the same lines, The Vanishing Game beats the movie by a mile. Five minutes into the movie, I knew exactly what was going on – this book kept me guessing until the very end. This is pretty much what my brain was saying as I read the last 50 pages: Oh…. That’s- OH! It’s- Wait- !?! (mind blown).

Now my one complaint about this book (again in the vaguest terms possible) is that I think it did go a centimeter too far in a direction it really didn’t need to go. All I can really say is that towards the end, the story dips a toe into a certain…genre, and I understand why Myers did it, in the larger picture of the novel, but I kind of wish she’d done without. I don’t think the story needed it.

In the end, The Vanishing Game well and truly knocked my socks off. This book is just…crazy. My hat goes off to Myer, because this type of story is so very, very hard to pull off – how to give enough information without giving too much away, how to keep us vested when the story doesn’t yet make sense – and I’ve seen its type fail time and time again, but wow does Myer ever pull it off with style. Seriously guys, READ THIS BOOK. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but in the end it will blow your mind.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

VOYA says:

A gripping mystery with strong but flawed characters, the book is impossible to put down. The reader races to keep up with the plot only to get walloped by a mind-blowing twist ending that turns the entire story upside down. Recommend this to teens who like intrigue, mystery, and suspense

The Reading Countess says:

I’m not sure what I’d do if I met Kate Kae Myers, the author of The Vanishing Game. Would I hug her for writing a hard-to-put-down book that reminded me at times of the Nancy Drew books of my youth or punch her in the gut for the surprise twist of an ending that I never suspected?