I was really excited to read the Missing Girl. I had been trying to get a copy for a few months and was thrilled to find it on Amazon for three dollars. I wanted so badly to love it, but I honestly didn't. I've read a couple other books centered around the theme of abduction that were so much better than this- Living Dead Girl, especially. The Missing Girl was alright, but it never got to the "thriller" part. I actually played with the idea of giving it two stars, but brought it up to three, because I did think that the narration of the main character, Autumn, was pretty good. There were a lot of other issues, though.
On the bright side, this novel is easy to page through. I read it all in one sitting. I guess it kept my interest, but I kept waiting for it to get better. Over half of the story is just an introduction to the characters. The point where Autumn gets abducted is quick and it all feels rushed after that. I definitely feel like I spent more time reading what happened before the main event than during or after. Another complaint that I have with the Missing Girl is that there are too many characters for such a short story. I understand that Mazer wanted to show what happened to this large family with the disappearance of a child, but she didn't need to give you so many details about them. You learned too much about Beauty and not enough about Autumn. It would have been more interesting if there was more about the kidnapper, as well. A few reviewers liked the chapters with his narration, but I honestly found it predictable and your typical pervert description. Which brings me to one of my least favorite things about this novel:
The whole time, I felt as if Mazer was walking on ice, trying to avoid any detail of what happened WHILE Autumn was held captive. Not that I was looking for any graphic descriptions, but it ALL centered around what happened before, the family's thoughts during, and after. You didn't read much about Autumn being at Nelson's house. In fact, there were hardly even any clues given to the reader that would tell us the man was being abusive. Autumn was afraid of his chair, but the only scenes with them both in the room were quick and mainly consisted of him giving her food. And then she comes home and still doesn't talk about it. I'm just not sure what the point was... It's clear that Mazer was trying to write a heartbreaking story, but she should have done it right: written to the audience age. I would be totally fine with giving this book to a sixth grader. A lot of Young Adult readers are 14+, it wasn't as if she should have been avoiding any difficult issues. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't really learn anything from this book- it was totally predictable and the scenes were written very poorly.
I know I already touched on this a little earlier, but I also had issues with which characters she focused on. I'm not sure why the Missing Girl was written in Beauty's point of view at times. She was one of the most flat, boring characters I've ever read about. Mim and Stevie seemed at least a little more interesting- I would have much rather read from one of their perspectives. As for Fancy, her chapters had the potential to be great (it's amazing some of the things special needs kids can pick up on that normal people can't), but they really just ended up being pointless and random. The only voices that pertained to the plot were the man's (whose pov pops up less and less the further you get) and Autumn's.
The Missing Girl should have been given a different name- Abduction in Mallory or Dysfunctional Family, maybe. Because, Autumn wasn't missing very long. Instead, the book just dragged on and on about her family. There are still more minor complaints that I have about this book (the ending, in particular), but I see no point in going on about them. While it had potential, this story just didn't carry out well. I wouldn't recommend it to many people, unless you can get it for free/extremely cheap somewhere and think that despite all of these issues, you still want to read it. Check out some different kidnapping books instead, if you're looking for that subject material.