Book Title/Author: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Publisher/Year: 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!
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.
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?