Author: April Henry
Release date: April 4th 2013
Paperback, 240 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Walker UK
The Book Depository
Gaby works part-time as a delivery girl at Pete's Pizza. She also drives a Mini Cooper. One night Kayla, who also works at Pete's, goes missing. A customer who had placed an order had asked whether the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gaby is horrified that Kayla's fate was really meant for her and she is determined to find the missing girl. She teams up with another co-worker, Drew, and together they set out to prove that Kayla isn't dead – and to find her before she is.
“A genuine thriller.” Those are the words written on the cover of The Night She Disappeared and they’re words with which I wholeheartedly agree. With its 230 pages, April Henry’s YA crime novel is a quick and exciting read. It is clear from every page that Henry is an experienced author with more than ten novels behind her. Her control over the characters, plot and pacing is absolute.
When a pizza delivery girl named Kayla goes missing, her two co-workers know that she wasn’t the intended target, but no one else thinks it’s important that the kidnapper asked for Gabie specifically, and that Gabie was supposed to be working that night. While everyone else is out looking for Kayla, Drew and Gabie struggle with guilt and fear. Gabie especially can’t forgive herself for being home safe while Kayla was being kidnapped in her place.
The Night She Disappeared is told from multiple perspectives, and while it’s not my favorite narrative mode, each narrator contributed to the story. The kidnapper’s perspective would normally bother me, but Henry skillfully offered his POV without giving us insight into his motives, which made him all the more interesting and kept me on edge. I am still unclear as to why he wanted those girls, but that too suited me just fine in this case. Psychopaths like him rarely make sense. Gabie herself wasn’t much of a heroine, but Henry used her well to show how ordinary, weak-willed people can sometimes gather the courage to do something extraordinary.
The guilt and responsibility they both feel bring Drew and Gabie closer together. Their budding relationship is a bit awkward because of the differences in their social status. Gabie is a daughter of two respected surgeons, a quiet and hardworking girl, already accepted to Stanford. Drew is a troublemaker and a small-time drug dealer with a tweaker mom. Ideally, things like money, clothes and cars wouldn’t matter at all, but since it mattered to the both of them, it was a constant source of misunderstanding.
What made this book stand out even more were the newspaper clippings, police interrogation transcripts, coroner’s reports, evidence forms etc. that were inserted between the chapters. They gave the story a more realistic feel and I found myself racing through each chapter just to discover what’s next.
April Henry has a new project coming up on June 11th called The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. I think I might just pre-order it.