When Gabie agrees to switch shifts with Kayla at Pete’s Pizza, neither has any idea how that one simple decision will turn their lives upside down. That night, Kayla leaves to make a pizza delivery and doesn’t return. Suddenly, the whole town is shocked and enthralled by Kayla’s abduction and as the investigation continues, all Gabie can think is, “It should have been me.”
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry is a fast-paced mystery thriller, told through several characters’ points of view, but mainly focusing on the first person narratives of coworkers and fellow students Gabie, Kayla and Drew. The book is peppered with notes and transcripts from the investigation that add a real sense of immediacy to the plot, as do the chapter headings which keep a running tally on how long Kayla’s been missing.
Gabie’s fear that she was the intended victim is sparked by Drew, who tells Gabie that the caller had asked for her. Guilt, and an intuitive sense that Kayla is still alive, spurs Gabie to obsession. Guilt also haunts Drew, but it is Gabie’s fear and conviction that keep him involved in the case, along with some romantic feelings.
I found the story to be an enjoyable and thought provoking. As a slim book with a quick moving plot, the character development is surprisingly rich, revealing more of Gabie, Kayla and Drew through their actions. In addition, by including reactions from a wide variety of people–Kayla’s family and friends, the rescuers attempting to find her, and the strangers drawn in by the crime–the book clearly shows how a single incident can so vastly affect so many people in entirely different ways.
As a mystery thriller, The Night She Disappeared had a great sense of urgency and felt very realistically portrayed. I especially liked the additions–the found notes, the missing girl poster, the 911 transcripts–that heightened the drama. I also appreciated how methodically the investigation played out. With the hook at the beginning, I was quickly drawn in by the story’s suspense and raced through this book in one night.
**SPOILER ALERT!** My only quibble would be that Kayla and Gabie are not close friends and Gabie’s almost psychic ability to sense that Kayla is still alive was a bit of a stretch for me.
Fans of mysteries, thrillers and fast-paced action would do well to check out April Henry’s other books. High praise was written for her last young adult novel, Girl, Stolen, a thriller involving a kidnapped blind teen. Her latest release is The GIrl Who Was Supposed to Die, being hailed as a “Jason Bourne”-like thriller, if Jason Bourne were a 16-year old girl. I have it on hold. What are you reading?