Book Review: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Told in cell phone records, photographic and video evidence, clinical notes, and first person narrative, Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall presents an absorbing, scary story. Teens headed by a grieving sister undertake the potentially deadly journey along a mysterious “road” that only appears once a year. There are rules to survive the experience, though, rules many of them break. But Sara’s determined to find her sister, the beloved Becca, who disappeared on a similar journey the previous year. The group encounters perils and horrors along the way. Some prove their inner strength, loyalty, and bravery. Others face personal guilt. Friendship and love sees some of them to the end of the mysterious road.

Riddled with references to a myth from Brittany but with the feel of a modern urban legend, Rules for Vanishing is cinematic in its approach to story telling. The imagery is as lasting as it is disturbing. I couldn’t help rooting for the main character, Sara. I found myself baffled by some of the decisions of the group, but people in such an extreme circumstance make questionable decisions. 

This well-written book leaves questions and an obvious open-end that promises further journeys, be they along Y’s mythical road or populated with its pitiful inhabitants.