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How to Disappear Hardcover – June 14, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Jack Manx, son of an infamous Vegas hitman, has always fought against the assumption that he would follow in his father's footsteps. A month before his high school graduation, straight-A student Jack visits his brother in jail and is met with an impossible ultimatum: find and kill a young woman named Nicolette, or watch his mom die. Implausibly, Jack agrees to this, rather than going to the police, and begins researching the young woman who's run away from her home in Ohio. Meanwhile, halfway across the country, a girl named Cat is desperately trying to outrun her past, change her physical appearance, and disappear into anonymity. Jack tracks Cat's movements across the country, but even attentive readers will be mystified by the hazy geography. Most of the events take place in Las Vegas or Ohio, but it isn't always clear what is supposed to be happening where in the time line. Plus, many rushed or missing transitions make comprehension a real challenge. For example, in one scene, Cat is thinking about going to pick up some essential items for life on the run. Suddenly, she is at the Goodwill, picking out dresses without even hinting at a change of scene or action. The plot does, however, pick up speed when the protagonists finally meet. The tension between them is well written, steamy, and fun to read. VERDICT This romantic psychological thriller would appeal to reluctant readers, but its flaws and length might make it a hard sell.—Leighanne Law, Scriber Lake High School, WA
“What a thrill ride! HOW TO DISAPPEAR sucks you in from the very first page and never lets you come up for air. It’s a game of cat and mouse with an end that will leave you gasping.” (April Henry, NYT bestselling author of Girl Stolen)
"HOW TO DISAPPEAR is a funny, sexy thrill of a book, with two characters who crackle and sparkle on the page, as they struggle to outrun danger and resist their growing attraction. Nicolette and Jack are street-wise yet vulnerable, tough yet broken, old for their years yet entirely teenaged in their sensibilities. A delight to read!" (Carrie Mesrobian, award-winning author of Sex and Violence)
“A deliciously gritty dive into the dark side of human nature! This book pretty much defines #MorallyComplicatedYA in a beautifully-written but fast-paced read that’s both twisted and thought-provoking.”
(Martina Boone, award-winning author of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy)
"A high-intensity, cross-country thrill ride that will have you breathlessly turning pages until the very end." (Gretchen McNeil, award-winning author of TEN and the Don't Get Mad series)
After witnessing a murder and believing her own life is in danger, 16-year-old Nicolette runs away from Ohio, involving herself in a series of identity-changing tactics including changing her name, backtracking along various interstate bus routes, and gaining weight, all in an effort to disappear from the killer’s radar. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Jack, a standup guy from Nevada who hates that he’s from a gangster family, is blackmailed by his brother into hunting down Nicolette and taking her out in a contract killing. In alternating chapters that maintain distinct voices and personalities, these two smart and damaged teens separately maneuver their new on-the-run realities, until they end up meeting, falling in love, and joining forces against the threats they face. Rapid pacing and intricate plotting unfold with lots of ready wit, dry humor, and sensitivity, and Stampler’s people, places, and cultures are genuine, making relationships and motivations authentic and vivid. This attractive mashup of suspense, road trip, romance, and psychological drama maintains its energy and credibility right through its emotionally honest and un-fairy-tale-like ending. — Francisca Goldsmith (Booklist May 1, 2016)
“A girl on the run and the boy sent to kill her are on an inevitable collision course in an adrenaline-soaked thriller.”
"Readers need to buckle up for action packed suspense that will keep them reading well past their bedtimes." (School Library Connection)
Jack’s father was a hitman, and his brother has the same shady associates, but Jack has always tried to stay on the straight-and-narrow. Now, however, his brother has summoned him to prison and told him, in no uncertain terms, that he needs to find a girl who has disappeared—a girl who has murdered one of his associates—and murder her—or else both Jack’s brother and their mother may be in danger. Nicolette is the girl Jack is chasing. She is definitely running from something, although perhaps not what Jack thinks she is running from. Jack and Nicolette tell the stories in alternating chapters. Nicolette is desperate, changing her name, changing her appearance, working whenever she can, always on the lookout for her chasers. Jack is methodical, tracking Nicolette, and always trying to figure out how he can get rid of her without, you know, actually killing her. Inevitably, the two meet up, but things do not proceed as either of them expects.
This fast-paced novel is an amalgam of thriller, romance, mystery, and road-trip. The characters—including minor characters—are nicely drawn and the whole thing will keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens. (VOYA 8/1/16)
Top customer reviews
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HOW TO DISAPPEAR is a gripping page-turner that is full of surprises, suspense, difficult choices with grave repercussions, unexpected romance, and chilling secrets. It introduces two characters who are seemingly ill-equipped to handle the situations they find themselves in, but are more complex and capable than they might appear on first glance.
Being forced to hide their true identities makes their connection all the more intriguing. Not being able to explain their behavior makes for a tension-filled read. Knowing what we know makes things positively nail-biting. And discovering what we don’t will stun.
The story alternates between Nicolette’s and Jack’s point of view, giving just a bit more insight about one than the other, teasing just enough to become invested in each of their outcomes, but not so much that you’ll feel you can completely trust either one. Jack and Nick are both very different, both flawed, both damaged, both volatile, and a rather unlikely and unfortunate but interesting pair. And they are very much worth getting to know.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR does not rush to the payoff at the story’s end. It keeps you in a state of anticipation. It keeps you guessing. But it promises to be well worth the wait. Author Ann Redisch Stampler has penned a story that is exciting, shocking and unsettling. It will make you rethink everything you thought you knew. It will make you root for someone and some things you never thought you’d root for. It will keep you captivated until the very last page.
I shouldn't have enjoyed HOW TO DISAPPEAR. But I did, very much.
I shouldn't be writing a positive review. But I am.
In order to savor HOW TO DISAPPEAR, readers need to do two things. First, suspend your disbelief that an eighteen-year-old can track down a sixteen-year-old runaway. Suspend that disbelief over other unrealistic scenarios and imagine this could happen. The second, overlook the insta-love between the two main characters.
I enjoyed both narrators' voices and both were multidimensional. Nicolette aka several aliases is a scared victim. She's tough, vulnerable and smart, though not always practical. If I were on the run from people who wanted me dead, I wouldn't call my best friend a few days into my adventure because I missed her. I wouldn't fall for someone, my priorities would be staying alive. Jack is much more straightforward, but also makes impractical decisions for someone with a history of having a father and brother who are members of organized crime. But, maybe that's just me.
Ann Redisch Stampler held my interest with fast paced short chapters alternating between Nicolette's and Jack's voices. The use of different fonts was particularly helpful. HOW TO DISAPPEAR had several twists and turns, but nothing that came out of left field; the clues were present, even if I didn't recognize them as hints.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR is one of those novels I had fun reading, because of great writing and two imperfect narrators who made me care. It's not a heart thumping thriller, although at times the suspense made me hold my breath. I'll probably reread this at some point, to see the clues I missed.
'How to Disappear' is a riveting young adult thriller that will have readers eagerly devouring the pages to figure out the mystery at the center of the novel. The plot was mostly original and the author added lots of great details to make it stand out from others like it. I loved the use of dual narrators - instead of getting to really know just one of the main characters, we are able to connect with both Nicolette and Jack, and are given the rare opportunity to see both sides of the story. I loved getting to know both Jack and Nicolette as individuals as well as how they interacted with one another, and how each one dealt with what was happening around them. They were both great main characters with unique personalities and traits - smart, resourceful, down to earth, determined - I could go on and on. I also really loved watching their attraction and relationship change and grow throughout the book. I think the romantic aspect of the story only added to the story and I didn't find it to be a distraction at all.
The dual narrative made things more fascinating, in my opinion. Usually we only get to know one of the characters on a deeply personal level - and that's only if the author uses the first person point of view. With the added viewpoint of Jack, the entire plot became more intense and exciting. I was flying through the pages to see what was going to happen next while trying to figure out what in the world was really going on. There were quite a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming - and sent me right back to square one with my theories. I have to admit that this book had me guessing and speculating up until the end - which doesn't happen very often. I always love trying to get to the bottom of things before the characters do, but that was pretty hard with this book. I did get frustrated more than once, but it was in a great way - not one that had me ready to give up. It only fueled my fascination and determination to figure out what was happening. I don't do spoilers in my reviews, so I can't elaborate much on the plot or what happens during the book. I'll just say that it kept me on my toes and was a fantastic blend of mystery, suspense, and romance. Overall, I really loved this book and I definitely recommend it highly to fans of the genre, along with readers who enjoy mysteries, contemporary fiction, romance, suspense, and thrillers. You really need to get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as you can!
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Most recent customer reviews
I received this book free from the publisher for the purpose of writing an honest review.Read more
Yet again...I have read another emotionally driven story by Ann Redisch Stampler!Read more