Title: 17 & Gone
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: March 21, 2013
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
Unfortunately, I do not understand the hype around this book. Maybe I would if I’d read Suma’s other book, Imaginary Girls, which incidentally I do own, but as it is, I am not getting the love.
I’m not really sure why I read this book all the way through. I guess it was partially because I was waiting for something unpredictable to happen, but in my opinion it never really did. I didn’t see anything special about the writing, and I thought most of the characters were boring and cliche, starting with Lauren, our protagonist. I didn’t think she developed or evolved throughout the story, even though it was stated many times that she changed, or whatever, but I felt we were never shown the before Lauren, only the after. While we may have gotten some personality for the missing girls, I didn’t think Lauren really had that much personality. There was nothing about her that stood out to me, and I simply didn’t have any feelings about her except a vague boredom.
I liked the idea of Lauren being a conduit for the missing girls to tell their stories, but since that didn’t really happen, I was kind of disappointed. I also felt like Suma used kind of cliche tropes to get us to feel sorry for the missing girls. While the issues Suma brings up in the story of each girl are important, I just felt like she beat the point to a pulp. I was also disappointed that the non-Abby girls’ stories were resolved so easily and only at the end.
Half the book is spent basically just introducing the lost girls in a very surface way, and I wished that Suma had focused on a couple in depth rather than a bunch. I know Abby Sinclair was supposed to be the main girl, or whatever, but I felt I still knew only basic facts about her by the end of the story. I didn’t know or care enough about her to make the book suspenseful, especially since the ending to her story is kind of obvious from the beginning.
In general, 17 & Gone just left me feeling bored and unimpressed. I thought the writing was mediocre, the voice uninteresting, and the protagonist lacked in personality. I know a lot of people loved this book, but I wasn’t one of them.