Thursday, August 2, 2012


Vanish by Tom Pawlik

Three strangers each encounter the same mysterious storm and awake the next day to find that everyone else has vanished. There's Conner Hayden, a successful but unscrupulous trial lawyer who has forsaken his family for his career; Helen Krause, a middle-aged model struggling to come to grips with her fading beauty; and Mitch Kent, an enterprising young mechanic unable to escape a past that still haunts him. Afraid and desperate for answers, their paths eventually cross and they discover they are being watched. Elusive and obscured in shadows, the “observers” are apparently forcing them to relive vivid hallucinations of events from their past. They discover a mute homeless boy in tattered clothing and believe he may hold the key to the mystery, but the “observers” soon become aggressive and the four are forced to flee. When the boy disappears, the four decide to head from Chicago to Washington, D.C. in search of answers…and more survivors.

by Tom Pawlik
Copyright © 2008 by Tom Pawlik

My Review
First of all, I must say that the above description (copied from Amazon) is somewhat misleading.  While the four people mentioned do meet, they also meet up with several others along the way—two teens named Devon Marshall and Terrell Carter, Ray Cahill and Howard Bristol. Also, I don’t recall any mention of the group deciding to go to Washington D.C.  I’m a fast reader and sometimes I skip over a passage or two so maybe I missed it.  Since I read it on my Kindle, I searched for Washington D.C. but couldn’t find it.  So…a somewhat misleading summary.

That aside, let’s go to the review.  Conner, Helen, Mitch, Terrell, and Devon all awaken one day to find everyone else in the world has vanished.  While looking for answers, they encounter each other and decide to stick together until they can figure things out.  Along the way, each person suffers from odd, flashback-like hallucinations, highlighting some of the more disturbing parts of their lives.  In addition, Conner begins having strange, seizure-like spasms, something he’s never had before.  Oh, and they’re being watched by aliens.

Yes, aliens.

Has Earth been invaded?  Is that why everyone else has disappeared except for this group?  And could there be more survivors out there?  And what do the aliens want with them?  One by one, as each member of the group is taken, the answer to that seems obvious.  Can the remaining survivors hang on long enough to find out exactly what’s going on?

The answer, when you get to it, may surprise you. 

Aside from the somewhat choppy, disorienting beginning chapters—each one focusing on the lives of Conner, Helen, and Mitch and how they came to be in this strange, abandoned world—they all eventually come together, along with the other characters.  Well-written with an interesting plot, the tension builds to a climax that will lead you in an unexpected direction.  Some may not enjoy the religious angle of the ending, but I’d encourage readers to keep an open mind.  The story isn’t preachy or overly-religious like the Left Behind series, but the overall message—your choices determine your destiny—is one worth thinking about.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

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