Wednesday, June 5, 2013

“Herr Schiller? Are there really any such things as ghosts?' The old man did not even show surprise at the question. He heaved a sigh. 'Yes Pia, there are. But never the ones you expect.”

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden 
281 pages 
Genre: YA, Mystery 

Summary: The Vanishing of Katharina Linden begins explosively, as 10-year-old Pia’s grandmother dies in a completely combustible way that nobody could have predicted. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Pia’s schoolmates begin treating her poorly, thinking that what happened to Pia’s grandmother will happen to them, too, if they become friendly with her. Things get even stranger when children begin to go missing in Pia’s small, German town. Can these events be stopped, or will Pia be the next victim? 

Review: I was really looking forward to reading The Vanishing of Katharina Linden based solely on the description. While the book was enjoyable, unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet the expectations that I built up in mind. 

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden wasn’t a bad book by any means; rather, I just didn’t feel as ensnared in the plot as I would’ve liked. The book literally started out with a bang with the death of Pia’s grandmother, which pulled me in right away, but after that, it seemed as if the events slowed down quite a bit. It took me awhile to finish this book, which is surprising when one considers that it’s relatively short, and I would imagine it was because it wasn’t moving fast enough for me.

Things really began gaining momentum towards the latter half of the book, however, and I really enjoyed that portion immensely. When Pia and her best friend, Stephen, were trying to piece together clues, I was on the edge of my seat, hoping they wouldn’t get caught. There was so much intrigue, and I don’t want to give anything away, but as it turned out, appearances were quite deceiving. 

Pia wasn’t my favorite narrator ever, but it could be because I was picturing her as a much older girl than she actually was, and I wasn’t forgiving enough with her mistakes. The story was told from an older Pia’s reflection of what happened at the time, and instead of seeing a 10-year-old, I was seeing an adult. Stephen did read like a 10-year-old to me, however, and I really liked when he was in the scenes. These characters were forced together out of necessity because of their outcast labels, and it was interesting to see their friendship strengthen over time. 

One of the things I found most compelling about The Vanishing of Katharina Linden were the relationships therein. While I didn’t quite bond with our narrator, her relationship with Stephen seemed quite genuine. Another relationship that really stood out to me was the one between Pia’s parents. Pia’s father was German and Pia’s mother was English, and they often butted heads about where they would live, parenting styles, and a slew of other things. It was such a real, dysfunctional relationship, and I could really see the characters come to life through their actions, although they sometimes made me cringe. 

While The Vanishing of Katharina Linden was a bit uneven for me, fans of mysteries may really enjoy this one. 

Rating: 3/5