INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • A propulsive, emotionally engaging debut novel about the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.
“Superb.... Brilliant.... Phillips's deep examination of loss and longing ... is a testament to the novel's power.” —The New York Times Book Review
One August afternoon, two sisters—Sophia, eight, and Alyona, eleven—go missing from a beach on the far-flung Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia. Taking us through the year that follows, Disappearing Earth enters the lives of women and girls in this tightly knit community who are connected by the crime: a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty—open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes, dense forests, the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska—and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Pay close attention as you enter Julia Phillips’ impressive and complex novel set on Kamchatka, the gorgeously remote Russian peninsula. Otherwise, you may find yourself as lost as the two young girls whose kidnapping sets off the kaleidoscopic story that follows. Fortunately, Phillips rewards our attention with her butterfly-effect examination of that mysterious unsolved crime and its many surprising reverberations throughout the community. It all adds up to a rich, compassionate portrait of a changing culture and landscape.
In the opening chapter of Phillips's exceptional and suspenseful debut, two sisters Sofia, 8, and Alyona, 11 vanish from a beach on the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia, and their disappearance sends ripples throughout the close-knit community. The subsequent 12 chapters, taking place during the months over the following year, chart the impact of the potential kidnapping and the destructive effect of longing and loss and play out in a series of interconnected and equally riveting stories about others in the surrounding area. "April" peeks into the day-to-day of a policeman's restless wife, who, while on maternity leave, is haunted by missed opportunities and " things darker, stranger, out of bounds." In "May," shrewlike Oksana, the abduction's only witness, severs ties with a colleague after the colleague's absentminded husband loses Oksana's beloved dog. The penultimate chapter unites some of the book's disparate threads, and follows Sofia and Alyona's anxious and emotionally ravaged mother, Marina, as she meets a photographer at a solstice festival who uncovers a potential link to an earlier unsolved missing-persons case and an important clue about who the perpetrator of both crimes might be. The discovery leads to a truly nail-biting climax and the novel's shocking conclusion that even eagle-eyed readers might not see coming. Phillips's exquisite descriptions of the desolate landscape and the "empty, rolling earth" are masterful throughout, as is her skill at crafting a complex and genuinely addictive whodunit. This novel signals the arrival of a mighty talent.
Not the ending I wanted
No spoilers. Excellent book all but how the author decided to end it.
Best I've read in a long while...
I'll be remembering this beautifully written story. The chapters, titled as months, could easily stand alone as short stories. Together, they weave together to form a most excellent book. I'll be looking for more from this author.
I struggled to finish this book. The whole time I was flipping back to the list of characters which didn't bother me much but on top of that, the story was just boring. I thought maybe there would be a crazy twist at the end or something but it just kind of ended without much of an explanation. It was just depressing and felt like a waste of time/money.