The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston | Book Review

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston cover & reviewBook Title/Author: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
: Disney-Hyperion – May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA – Mystery
Series: The ending seems  to leave it open that it could be one (and I see a #2 on Goodreads) but I think it could also stand alone.
Other Books From Author: None — debut!

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I received this from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!



Meg and her family have been put into the Witness Protection Program and have been bounced around to new towns and given new identities six different times. Meg doesn’t what her dad did to land them  in the program and her parents refuse to speak about it. Meg sees her family falling apart — her mom is drinking a lot, her dad is keeping something and look stressed all the time and her little sister is so fragile and is barely speaking — and she knows she has to figure out why they are in this situation to save her family and to stop all the tiring identity changes. She’s sick of making relationships only to have to leave so she enters this new school keeping a low profile and vowing not to make any friends — until she meets Ethan, the cute farm boy, whose curiosity could be dangerous for them both.

I really enjoyed The Rules For Disappearing though the first half was significantly a better experience for me in many ways. I didn’t fall in LOVE with this book like so many did but it was a pretty good read for me that and the MOST PERFECT gym book! It was a fun blend of mystery, romance, action, great character development and some nice familial aspects that I don’t often see.

The premise, right off the bat, drew me in as it was wholly unique with the main character and her family being in the Witness Protection Program. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the WPP and Ashley Elston definitely drew me in with the main character’s experiences of being moved around and having new identities all the time. The majority of The Rules of Disappearing takes place in the latest town but I loved the way we learn about the prior moves and how, at this point, she’s just so weary of it all. You really see why she is so hardened now when she arrives in this new town and I really felt for her and how her life was now totally different than it ever was. I felt for her especially since it seemed like the rest of her family was taking all of this even worse than she was and I was drawn into how all of this moving and changing of identities could wreak havoc on a family. I thought Ashley Elston really excelled in creating a believable voice and exploring how this experience might really mess a family up –especially with so many secrets and mystery around WHY they are in this situation.

The mystery element of this book was what made it the most perfect gym read because I just wanted to keep finding out MORE of what happened that put them in this Witness Protection Program and her dad was so hellbent on not telling her that it drove me just as crazy as Meg. It was unraveled at what I found to be a good pace and I was surprised once we finally found out the event that was the catalyst for everything. I figured out “the twist”  for sure because of how fixated Meg was on it but the actual event was surprising to me but that’s where it kind of got EH for me as things start being remembered and Meg decides to take matters into her own hand.

Things that prevented this from going beyond a GOOD read to that next level? I thought the romantical element started out  interesting — she was so cold to him because she knew they’d probably have to uproot again and he kept annoying her and trying to find out more. I thought their exchanges were fun and playful but then as the romance progressed it just fell flat for me. The love interest is by all standards swoonworthy and I really adored Ethan but it just really felt like really intense so soon and the things that I loved about Meg just seemed to get lost inside of this romance. There was just so much of her doing things wrong and him always coming in to save the day and I just thought the first part of the book was better in terms of their relationship dynamic. I just didn’t feel anything after the halfway mark when  I was LOVING their exchanges in the beginning.

The second part of the book gets increasingly action packed and I had a love/hate relationship with it. It was good because it kept up this page-turning tempo that held my attention until the very end but pretty much I had to suspend my disbelief VERY often. I mean,  I know it’s fiction but just the way everything went down I started to get eyerolly about certain things and it distracted me from the things I LOVED about this book — the character development, the familial dynamics, etc.

The Rules For Disappearing was a book that I enjoyed but ultimately didn’t finish as strong for me. It made a great gym read for me because of the mystery and the building suspense. I was invested in Meg and her family and finding out the reasons for why they were thrust into the Witness Protection Program but as the why’s started being revealed I felt conflicted about where it went. On one hand, I flew through it but, on the other hand, I just thought it missed the mark as it progressed. I loved the character development and the unique premise and thought it was a breeze to read and quite fun. It never went anywhere past the “good” mark for me but overall an enjoyable read.


The rules for dissappearing ashley elston

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? I’m probably in the minority on the love story huh? I mean,  I did LOVE Ethan but I just loved it more in the beginning than the end. Did you guess the twist? Have you read any other stories with the Witness Protection Program plot?


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I read this one and flew thought it pretty quickly. It was the first time that I remember reading anything about the WPP so I thought that was pretty interesting and also kind of heartbreaking with the names and the hair color and the little sister and all. I thought the romance was okay but I didn’t fall off of my couch swooning or anything. I think that the mystery part was kind of the funnest part to me (even though I’m not the biggest fan of thrillers and mystery books). I thought it was kind of hidden in there, all sneaky-like, and I thought that was pretty great. Had I realized it was a mystery/thriller-y book before I started, I probably/maybe wouldn’t have read it, and that would’ve been a shame because it was a fun story. And that ending was pretty nifty in my opinion. I mean, when I finished it I remember thinking HMM HOW COOL! and then putting the book down, but that I would certainly like to know more, and then when I saw that there was a #2 on Goodreads, I got a little more excited than I realized I would get. So I’ll definitely read it when it comes out. Plus I think this cover is super-fun. Good debut, I think. Love these thoughts, JAMIE!!!

    • I think I would have flown through it if it weren’t a gym read! It was perfect though for it because I did read quickly while I was on the treadmill PLUS I wanted to come back tomorrow to get more reading time. I even added 5 more minutes just so I could finish the book!

      Definitely agree that it was heartbreaking. The family situation was also what broke my heart. I can’t imagine bouncing to new school. I was a new kid once and that was enough for me.
      Good point about the mystery being tucked away in there. The first part felt light on the mystery — it just kind of hung there in the air until things started heating up! Wish I would have loved the mystery part more as someone who does love mysteries.

      ALSO I’m sooo curious to know what book 2 will be about. I mean THAT GUY. The way it ends. Could standalone if you want it to but if you want MORE book 2 will be great. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HIS DEAL IS.

  2. Nicely written review. I need to make time to read this one.

  3. This looks great! I will definitely be checking it out. I love those books that keep you turning the pages (especially for, as you mentioned, the gym!).

  4. I fully agree with everything you had to say here. Even though I didn’t mind that the end got a little weird and easy. I liked all of the elements that you liked too. I thought the family dynamics were the most interesting part for me.

  5. I did feel that the first and second part of this book are disjointed and they felt a little like two different stories. I was definitely interested in the book and enjoyed it, the mystery is what kept me reading too! I really enjoyed how Ashley Elston went into how being in the WPP and moving so much affected each of the family members in a different way.

  6. Can I just say how happy I am to read a review from someone else who was disappointed with the second half of this book? I feel like all I’ve read are amazing reviews, but I just don’t get it. I really loved the first half, including the romance, but then, like you said, the rest of it was pretty much a complete suspension of disbelief.

  7. Sarah @ YA Books By The Dozen says:

    Great review! I’ve heard of The Rules For Disappearing, but I didn’t know much about it. I haven’t read a WPP book before. It was interesting to see what you thought of it. Your review is the first one I’ve read on it, and I think I may read a few more before I decide to put it on my list to read. If there is a sequel, do you think you will be reading it?

  8. I totally agree! This was a really, really good read for me but not quite to the point of GREAT. There were tiny pieces of the plot that I got hung up on and tiny pieces of the romance. I can totally agree with what you said about Meg getting lost in the romance. I really swooned for Ethan and thought he was a great character but Meg’s part in the romance bothered me a bit at times.
    Lovely review! As much as I loved/hated the ending, now I know I HAVE to pick up the second book!

  9. This book fascinates me mostly because of the premise that includes the Witness Protection Program. I can hardly imagine what it must be like to be constantly on the move for your own safety, shifting identities and lives like it’s nothing. I’d be curious to unravel the mystery as well!

  10. I had a love/hate relationship with the last 3/4 or so of TRFD too, Jamie. When Meg started figuring things out, IMO the book went way downhill. But up til then I loved it. I thought it was just as believable as you did, the effects everything was having on the family. And I really really liked Meg, and her sister, and ETHAN. *swoons* Things did get sorta intense between them, but it still believable, I thought!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue


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