The Rules for Disappearing

The Rules for Disappearing - Ashley Elston (Full review can be found on my blog, Paper Riot.)First thoughtsSurprising! I didn't expect to like this book so much.More thoughtsWell, that was unexpected. After a few disappointing debuts, my expections for The Rules for Disappearing were quite low. And admittedly, it took me a couple of chapters to get invested in the story, mostly because it started off as a regular romance with the Witness Protection Program as a side aspect, and I was afraid that it would stay that way. Enter Plot Twist Number One. Also known as the twist that I probably should have seen coming, but didn't; the twist that changed my entire perspective; and the twist that made me much more invested in this story. And thank goodness it did, because it was just a crazy ride from that point on, and I enjoyed every bit of it.Elston did a splendid job giving away little clues, really taking her time with the details, and then kicking it up a notch in the second half. The pacing was very well done - not too fast, but enough to keep me intrigued - and worked so well in combination with the many twists and turns. What started off as a Witness Protection Program story revolving around the romance, turned out to be a slowly built up but still fast paced and thrilling crime story. Especially the second half was full of creepy and surprising moments. And though I could predict some of them (like Big Plot Twist Number Two), that didn't make it any less exciting. I had difficulty putting the book down before I knew what had really happened to "Meg".I was surprised by the intensity of this book. Where I expected a fun crime story à la Also Known As, Ashley Elston shows that being in the Witness Protection Program is not all sunshine and rainbows, in a way that made me feel sorry for the main characters. Because the program is not just a way to keep Meg's family safe, it's also slowly ruining them. They are miserable and growing apart, and it made me sad, but I liked how well worked-out these characters were. I even ended up really liking the romance as Ethan's part in the story grew bigger. Would I have like to see it a little more polished? Yes. Ethan's discovery and his committment to Meg (who wasn't very nice to him at first) were sweet, but made him seem like a bit of a pushover. But the romance grew on me.Overall, The Rules for Disappearing was nothing like I'd expected it to be, in a good, very good way. I was drawn into Meg's world and the mystery surrounding it. I wanted answers, but I didn't want it to be over either. I love how we got little pieces of information as the story continued and it only confirmed that the plot was very well thought-out. With enough suspense and action to keep me at the edge of my seat for the entire second half, I was really intrigued and pleasantly surprised.