Kate Alice Marshall's second YA novel, Rules for Vanishing, is a compulsively readable horror/paranormal story! With its The Blair Witch Project-esque style and structure, and its purposeful cast of characters, the book ensures that... once a reader sets foot on the road, there's no turning back.
I LOVE Marshall's multi-genre storytelling in Rules for Vanishing. The book's puzzle pieces of video evidence, text message logs, written testimony, etc. not only make for brilliant pacing, but also compel readers to lean into the mystery; the narrative hinges on mystery, tension, and surprise.
The multi-genre approach also showcases Marshall's writing style: strong and cinematic! I could easily imagine a book-to-film adaptation of Rules for Vanishing.
The novel's characterization, meanwhile, is a little mixed. Some characters remain one-note, and some character relationships have to be taken on faith alone. However, these choices make sense in light of plot and genre. And I do love what I believe to be the intentionally diverse/representative cast of characters. Teens, regardless of background, ability, sexuality..., will be able to see themselves in these characters.
My primary issue with Rules for Vanishing is that it had at least one too many plot twists for me. Ultimately, I think the narrative would've been more cohesive if it had existed solely in the sphere of urban legend and local mythology - rather than in a collision of local mythology and global mythology.
Before I conclude, I have to echo what I've read from several other early reviewers - if you read any YA horror/paranormal story this year, let it be Rules for Vanishing!
I would caution, however... Read right before bed at your own risk.
Finally, thank you to Viking/Penguin Random House and Bookish First for my advance readers' edition. I'm lucky to have this title for my classroom library!