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The Rules for Disappearing #1

The Rules for Disappearing

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She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published May 14, 2013

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About the author

Ashley Elston

9 books1,145 followers
Ashley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and was a finalist in the Best Young Adult category of the International Thriller Writers Awards.

Coming Soon: FIRST LIE WINS (2023 - Pamela Dorman Books/PRH)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 883 reviews
May 17, 2013
There are several keywords in a book blurb that quickly hooks me in, "Witness Protection" is one of them. Unfortunately, I found this book to be frustrating and dull, the love interest an obtrusive jerk, the mystery not engrossing, the ending too rushed, and the people involved too willing to go along without any explanation. Ultimately, there were too many flaws to keep me engrossed.

"Meg" and her family has been under Witness Protection for almost a year. Without any explanation from the federal agents or from her parents, she and her family have been in hiding and on the run six times in eight months, and she's pretty sick of it. At first, Meg tries to fit in at her new school, with her new identity, but by the sixth move, she is sick of it all. What's the point of trying when your identity and your friends will all get taken away without warning?

I felt the depiction of Meg's family dynamics as well as the individual personalities in her immediate family were well-done. Her frustration at all this is understandable; her entire family's behavior are believable. Meg's 11-year old sister "Mary" is slowly withdrawing into herself, becoming a shell of who she was. Her father is stressed out and stretched thin as a string, about to snap at any moment. Her mother gradually descends into alcoholism, turning from a casual drinker at parties to someone who spends the day in an alcohol-fueled stupor; even the people in Witness Protection knows she's too unsteady and unstable to hold a job by the time the sixth change rolls around. Their family is at the breaking point, and Meg really wants some answers. Nobody seems to want to give her any, and she is frustrated enough at this point to try to figure it out on her own, even if it places her entire family in danger.

Here is where things fell apart. Meg goes to her latest school, armed with a new identity, without knowing anything about her supposed previous town. By now, she knows the rules to keep to herself and not draw any attention, but the result of her standoffishness and her determination to figure out the truth at all cost makes her a rather unlikeable character. She keeps everyone at an arm's length by more or less antagonizing them, and of course, this would draw the attention of a too-inquisitive boy named Ethan.

The thing with trying to keep everyone away and being the bristly, antagonistic new girl in a town where everyone's known each other since kindergarten is that you attract other types of attention. Inevitably, someone will want to know why you're so difficult, and try to befriend you and unwittingly make you a project. This seems to be what Ethan has in mind. No matter what Meg does to try and push him away, he tries to draw her closer. He is everywhere she turns, their incidental meetings become so frequent it pushes the limits of credibility. He is curious about this new girl who tries to push everyone away, so he does everything he can to research Meg's past (a little creepy, no?). As such, his pushiness puts Meg in danger, even if Ethan is a decent guy (and he is) he still comes off unwittingly as a jerk to the reader who knows why Meg is so secretive. Ethan doesn't appear to be the brightest boy either...it never occurred to him that there's a reason why Meg is hiding all these things? Curiosity killed the cat. And guess who's willing to give it all up for that stupid cat?

“I see this often in girls your age who are in the program. They meet some boy and they’re ready to give it all up. You’re young. This will pass.”

I roll my eyes. I hate nothing more than a condescending adult.

It's not condescension if it's true, my dear Meg. You're ready to give it all up because Ethan made out with you.

The ending is very, very rushed, and the actions of those involved aren't too believable. People should be asking questions, not blindly doing everything Meg requests at the drop of a hat? It works out very well for Meg, but it is blatantly unbelievable realistically. The great mystery is too easily explained, everything falls into place too conveniently, and it wasn't a convincing or exciting book for me.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,908 reviews853 followers
April 19, 2013
Anytime I hear mystery, romance, and danger as descriptors for a story my ears immediately perk up. I love the thrill of trying to piece together a mystery, and the way my heart rate races when reading suspenseful scenes. Add in a romance that makes me swoon, and you have my favorite type of read! The Rules For Disappearing ticked all those boxes for me.

Meg, the name she goes by now, has been moved six times in the last year as part of the Witness Protection Program. This time seemed different and more urgent. She was awakened in the middle of the night, and made to change her looks drastically before being whisked to the next location. Meg has been worn down by all the moves, forced to leave anyone she gets close to without a word. She’s determined to make this move different by isolating herself so that it doesn’t hurt so badly when she inevitably gets yanked out of this town. Meg is also determined to find out, once and for all, what the heck her father did to get them into this mess! Her family is slowly starting to come apart from all the stress, and she wants all this to end.

When she enrolls into her new school in Louisiana, not all goes as she planned. She gains the attention of Ethan, one of the popular boys at school and immediately he picks up on an inconsistency in her back-story. Also, her mother is coming apart at the seams, drinking herself into oblivion everyday to the point of jeopardizing her life. Add to this, Meg has the distinct feeling that someone is following her.

It was easy to be consumed by this story. If I met someone in real life who was in the Witness Protection Program I’m sure I’d have them cornered while I peppered them with questions of what it was like. I got this from Meg as her story is revealed little by little, and I wondered right along with her, what happened? I couldn’t help but feel bad for Meg and all her family went through, to find out how outgoing and popular they all once were and then to see them in the state they’re in now. I was rooting for them to get some answers and resolutions, so they could heal and get back to their normal selves.

Ethan undermines Meg’s plan to isolate herself because he just won’t give up on her. She can’t resist him even though she constantly feels she should. He sweet, gorgeous, and all-to-smart for Meg’s own good. *sigh* This is one of those romances where you just want to give Meg a little shake, and yell at her “let him in!!” Fear not my fellow romance junkies, nothing to fret about!

The Rules For Disappearing was an addictive read for me and I only put it down when I had to (darn real life!). Ms. Elston wrote a captivating debut and I plan on picking up anything else she writes!

A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Come visit The Readers Den for a chance to win an ARC copy of The Rules For Disappearing.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,356 followers
May 16, 2013
Another fake identity for "Meg" means another town, another school, another life altogether. In a book like this, mystery becomes the main element of the plot; why and who are they hiding from. Even though the book is actually a pretty good contemporary with decent characters and a compelling romance, the mystery element lost its flair for me fairly quickly, leaving me with a lukewarm read with some sparks, but not enough to hold its flame.

The fire of this one initially died when the plot kept beating around the bush. It left me exasperated for some answers already. Then it lost its biggest appeal when the big mystery ended up being a little too underwhelming. It's the answer I was expecting; the one we don't even consider, or at least we hope it's not it because it's the obvious direction the plot could take. You also have to take it all with a grain of salt when you think how things would work in reality, this all made it difficult for me to take it seriously.

Although I don't mind predictability for the most part--seeing as it has become quite rare for me to be caught by surprise nowadays--I come to expect a certain amount of intelligence, or perception, when it comes to the characters figuring things out. In this case, Meg was a little too clueless, or dismissive. With a feeling of being watched, of being followed, then witnessing a couple of suspicious situations, Meg assumes it's "all in her head", every time. Then she puts her trust into someone who's acting "out of the norm" which, to the reader, immediately becomes a red flag. While some may forgive this with her excuses of chalking it up to paranoia and not wanting to be relocated again, I found myself incredibly irritated. In these types of stories, the smarter and more cautious the character, the more I connect to them. If this was a movie, Meg would be the heroine I'd be screaming at angrily for not seeing things clearly. This leads me to think it's more of an "not for me" type of read. Furthermore, when all is said and done, the ending left me with nothing but a cocked eyebrow. Not only is it anti-climatic, the last few pages didn't really make any logical sense when you think of the grand scheme of things--why would they care about her anymore? To be honest, it felt like a gimmick to get us interested in the sequel and nothing more.

Despite my issues with the plot it's not a complete loss. Aside from the previous mentions, I did like Meg's personality, how caring she was of her sister especially. Then the relationship she forms with a certain boy in town became my favorite part of this novel. Meg has a hard time allowing herself to fall in love or get attached to a guy since she's aware her family could be moved any second. This causes a hot and cold relationship where you both understand her hesitation, yet you hope she goes through with it anyways. And who could resist Ethan? Your adorable farm boy with a heart or gold and eyes only for Meg. Due to this reluctance, their relationship is slow paced, steadily sparking, with a great forbidden fruit flair. You really can't help but sigh at their adorableness!

A mysterious premise, good characters, and a sweet romance, I can see this book being a hit for certain readers, especially those who have not read as many similarly plotted books. Sadly for me the mystery--the heart of the book--fell short of my expectations.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,920 followers
February 16, 2013
The Rules for Disappearing is a book for those who are prepared to put logic aside, a least for a little while. It is comparable to an action movie, albeit one with solid characterization. It is captivating and very impressive in some ways, but if you expect it to be realistic and to always make sense, you might end up disappointed.

Meg and her younger sister Mary have been through so many witness protection placements that they don’t want to choose their own names anymore. Their parents are taking it even harder; their father is absentminded and generally unhelpful and their mother, a former cocktail party queen, is drunk around the clock. Meg and Mary are not the girls’ real names, of course, but they’re never allowed to use their own, not even among themselves. That is just one of the many rules they have to live by if they want to stay alive.

The suits, which is their name for the US Marshalls, are a constant looming presence in their lives. They can show up anytime, even in the middle of the night, and take them all to a new country with new names and a new life.

RULES FOR DISAPPEARING BY WITNESS PROTECTION PRISONER #18A7R04M: Don’t fall into a routine. Shake things up. Doing the same thing over and over makes you feel comfortable. And feeling comfortable is bad.

The first part of this book was utterly captivating. It focused on Meg and Mary’s internal struggles, their psychological traumas and their family issues. Meg had pretty much become apathetic, and Mary nearly catatonic, with occasional hysterical outburst, usually caused by men in suits. The second part, however, was where it all went wrong. As soon as Elston stopped focusing on the girls and started focusing on the reason for their placement in the Witness Protection, the story became far too unbelievable. I kept expecting Bruce Willis to pop out like jack-in-a-box, with a semi-automatic in hand and proclaim that he’s there to kill the bad guys and save them all. (No such luck, though.)

There’s also the small matter of Meg’s boyfriend Ethan. As much as I liked him as a character (and believe you me, he had some pretty adorable traits), him getting involved in this huge, dangerous mess for a girl he barely even knew just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t relax and enjoy their romance because my brain kept screaming ‘no one would do that, no one would do that, there’s no way in hell that a sane person would ever do that!’

I can easily imagine The Rules for Disappearing being turned into a movie, especially the second half (which is why I enjoyed the first much more). It is very tightly paced and dynamic. Although it had its problems, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a quick, exciting read.

Profile Image for Jude.
199 reviews641 followers
February 8, 2015
I felt like a lost Chihuahua when I finished reading this. Yep, that's totally a feeling.

Let me explain. From the summary you gather that "Meg" is in witness protection but she doesn't know why, after the sixth move she gets tired of not knowing and she sets out to find the truth. Now, I just want to say that I did read the summary of this book before I read it/requested it, but I kind of forgot the summary or more like didn't really absorb the summary - I'm selecting my words wisely here - the thing is, I understood she had been in witness protection and that she was tired and that she was trying to cope, but I didn't really get the main point: She wanted answers. We were looking for answers.

Meaning: I approached this book in a different way. I thought it would be a normal contemporary where we see the girl deal with her emotions; I never once saw it as a mystery or a journey, so to say I was really taken aback for how things turned out, is an understatement.

There were a lot of mysterious people and situations going on in the book, with little unexpected turns here and there, and I never EVER saw any of them coming, there was only one thing that I vaguely thought was suspicious (and I was right) but it was just one thing. Everything I discovered I did it slowly and along with "Meg" I was never one step ahead of her, which actually made me feel really naïve.

I saw a lot of reviews where they mentioned that it was all very predictable and that it was stressing to watch how 'Meg' didn’t realize all the stuff that was happening around her- this being what makes me feel naïve- but I just don't get it. When I started with The Rules For Disappearing, I wasn’t expecting it to be such an addicting and engrossing story. I started to read it and could not get it out of my mind and I just had to keep reading. The story was so incredibly easy to follow, being with 'Meg' was effortless. Her decisions never seemed irrational or stressed me out, because had I been in her situation I would have done the same; it all basically felt so real and I was genuinely worried for her, her little sister and whatever it was that had them running away.

I honestly thought that this would be a nice average read. I don’t know why, I was just expecting a normal maybe-even cute story, not at all what it was. 'Meg' wasn’t a plain average character, had I know her before she started moving, I probably would not have been able to stand her, but when you see all that she’s had to go through and how much she’s changed, you just can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for her. She was strong and determined – well kinda determined, it was really amusing to watch her sketch all of this plans in her mind to keep people away, and see how she always gave in, because honestly, all she wants is to feel normal and fit in.

Another thing that was really surprising and really great was the lovely romantic parts. Yeah well... that happened 'cause I didn’t even know there was any romance. I just went back to read the summary and yes, they mention Ethan, and I swear I had read the summary before, way before when I featured this book in my WOW, but for some odd reason the romance part was also not registered in my brain. So to say I was super super SUPER pleased with how things turned out, and how Ethan turned out to be is putting it lightly. I LOVED Ethan, he was so sweet and so supportive and he never really gave up on her, even when it seemed like he did, he still had faith in her and he still wanted to help her.

Conclusion: I Loved this story. The ending was just so BAM! and just the whole story was really BAM and I still feel like a lost Chihuahua, but a very satisfied very happy lost Chihuahua. Would recommend to anyone that wants something a little bit different, yet entertaining, intense and with just the right amount of romance.

Video Review Here.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
April 4, 2018
The Rules for Disappearing was a pretty good book. It mostly helped me with my drive from my house to my work today because I was in traffic for 2 FREAKING HOURS! Yup, so I definitely went to my kindle app and read the shit out of this book. Now since it was on my phone.. well the pacing was kind of all flip-floppy. It was still highly enjoyable though and I wanted to figure out what the hell was happening as much as, well probably more than, the MC mystery girl.. who has way too many names to remember.

Okay, so this family is in the witness protection program. Now the MC goes by Meg, and her sister goes by Mary.. I don't even remember what her parents went by but does it really matter?!? All I remember about her parents is that her mom is a complete drunk and needs AA meetings STAT and her dad gives awful nicknames to everyone he meets.

Throughout the book Meg is trying to figure out why her family is even in the freaking witness protection program. She has noticed that her sister has gone from acting like a normal pre-teen.. to basically a baby in a matter of months. Her parents are acting weird but accepting it as the normal.. and she has a god awful hair cut/color job and has to wear colored contacts. Now if you aren't miserable after reading that.. well, I sure was while typing it.

Unfortunately we, and Meg, don't get answers (no matter how small they may be) until like the halfway point of this book. At this point the book was kind of dragging and then started to pick up. I just wanted to know more about this whole situation. I also just wanted this to be their last house because this family needs to get fixed ASAP!

Now there was some romance!! YAS!! Okay I really liked Meg and Ethan! I shipped them so freaking much! However, I would've enjoyed a more realistic kind of friendship/relationship than the whole insta thing that happened.

Overall, it was an okay but enjoyable book. If it didn't drag so much, have annoying family characters, or have anything romantic instantaneously happen then I would've given it more stars than I did. I hope the second book is a hell of lot better than this one.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,008 reviews377 followers
May 9, 2013
I love Ethan. He might very well be the best part of this book. Okay, maybe not the best part because I really enjoyed the storyline and the other characters as well but I just adored Ethan. He was just amazing and I love that he never gave up on Meg. That he pushed her when she didn't want to be pushed and stuck with her when she didn't want anyone there. You have to admire a guy for that.

Where to start with the rest of the story? Hmm, not sure really without giving too much away.

Meg is in witness protection along with the rest of her family and she is there for reasons she doesn't even know why. All she knows is that for the past 8 months, things have not been the same. She was uprooted from her home in the middle of the night and on the run since.
By the time she gets to the little town in Louisiana she has had enough. Her family is falling apart and she is tired of running from something she has no clue about. She wants answers and she will do just about anything to get them.

Meg was a very different character. She isn't helpless but she isn't necessarily strong either (at least, not at first). She isn't always nice and she certainly isn't charming but that too has it's reasons and they all make sense as the story unfolds. Meg's life is in shambles and by the time we get a glimpse into her life, she is almost ready to give up...almost.

Instead of taking things for how they are she decides to fight back and get some answers.

I have to say, I really liked how this story unfolded and even though I suspected some of the things that happened were going to happen, I still really enjoyed this. I loved getting to watch Meg take charge and be in control and do something about her life. It was nice to see her fight for what she wanted for herself and her family. I was happy that she didn't just sit there and take it all, even if that meant putting herself into some pretty stupid situations and hurting some people along the way.

The secondary characters in this one were pretty great. As you already know, I loved Ethan. I also really loved Teeny, Catherine and Pearl. They were great characters that really added a lot to the story and gave it extra life when it needed it.

The best part about this one though is that I know there will be a sequel because lets face it, that ending was amazing and slightly creepy and I really want to find out more. Without ruining anything for you, there were a few unanswered questions that I would love to find out and I can only hope that in the sequel we get those answers and one heck of an adventure along the way. Because really, I want to see Meg and Ethan again. I love their relationship and I want to see it grow and blossom as well.
Profile Image for Gray Cox.
Author 4 books165 followers
May 25, 2018
Yesterday my mom ambled into my room and plopped herself down in my bed, this wasn’t unusual because my mom often comes into my room to hang out and hide from my seven younger siblings (she’s secretly sixteen at heart still).
“This looks good, is it?”

I looked up from my laptop to see her holding up The Rules for Disappearing. My mom is a bookdragon at heart, unfortunately, it’s hard to read a lot with a horde of kids, but she occasionally steals books from me.

“It’s okay,” I said, glancing back at my screen, I had a huge writer’s block in this one scene I was working on. “Very insta-lovie though.”

My answer still describes how I feel about this book. It was… okay. I never really got into it though, so yeah, meh.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,353 reviews159 followers
October 1, 2017
She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky ... But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

The Rules for Disappearing starts out with a 17 year old girl and her family, who are in witness protection being moved from one location to another. We soon learn that this isn't the first move, but that there have been 6 moves so far. The main character, who is now going by the name Meg knows her own mess up caused them to be moved from one location, but she doesn't know why they have been moved every other time or why they are in witness protection in the first place. Tired of making new friends only to leave them yet again, she's getting increasingly desperate to know the truth. No one will tell her anything though, not even her own parents, so Meg decides it's time for her to uncover the truth on her own.

This was an ok read. I expected it to be filled with a lot more danger, a lot more suspense, and well--be a lot more thrilling. The author instead, chose to focus too much (for me anyway) on the teen romance and the high school drama, which included the standard mean girl and her posse of cheerleaders, and a couple of parties with underage drinking and other shenanigans. Honestly I could have done without most of that. What I really wanted was to feel danger creeping around every corner. I wanted to wonder who Meg could trust and who she couldn't. There was very little of that feeling of danger and I knew right away who she couldn't trust. It was staring me in the face like a flashing neon sign.

Meg really wants to have her old life back through most of the book. In the beginning she doesn't like who witness protection has caused her to become, but from the bits that are revealed about her in her past life, I think I like the new Meg a lot better than the old one. There is no way she can ever go back to being the same person she was before, at least not completely, and in some ways that's a good thing. In the end she realizes that too.

While I liked the “witness protection” Meg and I thought her sister was ok too when she wasn’t acting like a brat, Meg’s parents were a different story. They annoyed me with the way they wouldn't talk to her, and her mother completely failed them by becoming a drunk. I just wanted to slap her. And back to the sister acting bratty, she was an 11 year old who was traumatized by all the moves so I was mostly able to cut her some slack. Ethan, the love interest was ok, but didn't make my heart flutter or anything. I'm not really into farm boys that go to restaurants with mud all over them. Couldn't he have cleaned up first? I did find it hard to believe that he was the only person Meg befriended out of the whole 6 moves that knew something wasn't right about her.

I liked that this book was set in the town of Natchitoches, Louisiana. When Meg first finds out she is in Louisiana all she can think of are hurricanes and oil spills. I'm surprised she didn't add swamps to that list as well. But for a nice change there was no mention of a swamp in a book set in Louisiana. I liked that this book was set in the cute, little, historical town of Natchitoches but I do wish that we had gotten more description of the town. It's the town where Steel Magnolias and several other movies were filmed, and it would have added a nice atmospheric touch to the novel if there had been more description of it.

This looks to be book one of a duology. It could easily have been a stand-alone. It ends nicely and leaves the reader wondering about who one person really is and what their motivation was. This is not enough to make me want to read the next book though. I'm fine being left with that slight little mystery.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Farah 🌈.
94 reviews19 followers
Want to read
April 12, 2013
I just discovered this book on my recommendations and here I am, le me scrolling down and all (majority) of the arc reviews include either 4 or 5 stars (the blurb is also intriguing <3) and now I'm like:
Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews923 followers
July 31, 2013
What a book!!!

This is the kind of book your could dive into for hours at a time and gladly stay immersed in for the rest of your life. Deeply moving, humorous, filled to the brim with mystery and suspense, and with a brilliant plot, The Rules for Disappearing is a killer read which will have you wishing for more :)
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 40 books8,985 followers
March 6, 2016
Wow. Poor kid! I feel for the heroine in this one. Loved her boyfriend. He's really dreamy. Also was craving pizza pretty much the whole time I was reading. But not the pizza with shrimp and seafood. Do they really eat that in Louisiana?
Profile Image for Karla Mae (Reads and Thoughts).
696 reviews142 followers
January 1, 2015
I love every tiny bit of this book!

I hope the statement above give you a jump start on how I really feel about reading this. I plan to write my review about this read with that statement just written over and over again thinking that that would be enough for you to check it out but I guess I could still share other insights about it to push you more to read this because it was sooooo worth it! I know the year just started and there are way lot more books to come out but I know Rules for Disappearing would appear to be one of the best for me this year.

A story wherein the main characters are under witness protection is a new field for me so reading this is like taking a leap of faith or running blindly or stuff but one thing I know is that it's premise is overly fascinating and I know I have to read it. I'm telling you guys, no other YA book has ever played tricks on my mind like this one - strong, original and fascinating!

"Meg", along with her family is always on the run. They change names as they change locations. They have no permanent residence, name and even friends and Meg is getting tired of that kind of life and soon they arrive at their latest placement she planned to know the whole truth on why they’re living this way. She will unravel the truth one way or another.

Meg is a very levelheaded girl. She came aloof and bitchy to other people but to her family especially her little sister she's the best as she can be. I admire her strength and courage. She's trying her best to be a bitch to the new people she meets to avoid attachment but when she met Ethan her walls started to collapse. Her voice telling the story was so strong and gripping that I easily get wrapped up in her world.

Teeny is such a vulnerable little girl but is able to stand on what she wants and believes. She depended on Meg greatly. Their mom was a great disappointment to both of them; she started to get alcoholic because of their constant placements. I get mad at her yes but I also feel sorry for her.

Ethan and the other friends Meg made during their latest placement was a great bunch of people. They’re all welcoming (maybe expect Emma - Ethan's twin sister) but with them Meg feels welcomed and with their constant concern for her they gave her a reason to really want her old life back.

At the beginning of every chapter there are rules written - witness protection rules to be exact. Rules should be followed and Meg really does try her best to follow it but with her intense itch and curiosity to get to the end of things some of these rules ended up broken.

The mystery just about killed me. I'm not even around the half of reading it I'm already itching to know the truth! I really did my best to think of reasons why they’re on witness protection and I came up with some ideas but none of them are correct and not anywhere near it. lol. The mystery itself was already worth reading.

How did the book ended? Well, it ended in a good way because things got settled but on another note there are still some questions that are left unanswered.

A strong, fascinating and one of a kind premise plus fascinating characters and you will get Rules for Disappearing. Please do yourself a favor and read this one!! :)

PS. I heard that the author is already on the planning stage of the sequel to this book. Me excited? Definitely!!

Thanks to Netgalley and Disney Book Group for providing an advance copy for review
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,042 followers
March 29, 2013
This is a story about a girl in protective service who had to move a bunch of times so she is not up for meeting new people when she is forced to move to a small town in Louisiana. Her family was upper-middle class (I think) before they had to change their identities. Meg (or Sissy) is determined to find out the truth from her parents but they aren't really the sharing types. Dad is always working while mum is constantly drunk so she mostly takes care of her sister, Mary (or Teeny) who is afraid of being left behind. She finds a job in a local pizzeria on her first day of actually looking (#jealous) where the hot guy from school. Ethan Landry comes to eat swamp pizza.

The first part of the story was centered around Meg's paranoia. She fears that her family is going to be sent somewhere else any minute now so she carries her go-to bag with her all the time. She tries to stay away from all new people but it's not working because Ethan cracks her armor and starts seeing there's something weird about the way she's acting. The first half of the book was actually the part I enjoyed till they went hunting wild hogs, with guns. Having minors near guns or even letting them use them is a huge no-no for me. Meg even fainted. From there the book started to show flaws and I couldn't see anything good.

The second half of the book is ridiculous. I don't want to reveal too much but Meg finally finds out the truth about what happened and with Ethan's help she sets out to find the evidence without letting anyone know. They go to place where Meg grew up while there are a bunch of mobsters after them. For some reason, they thought it was the right thing to do. Who would actually do that I know I wouldn't. I would let the Feds know where the evidence is and just stay safe and let professionals to do their job. I prefer to live another day. Such stupidity. The whole reveal was unsatisfying and unrealistic As for the ending, who knows. Maybe there'll be a sequel, it's never over.

Thank you Disney Hyperion and NetGalley.
Profile Image for Brittany S..
1,585 reviews702 followers
August 18, 2016
4.25 stars

Initial Impressions:Ohhhh what an ending. I liked the creepiness of it, the mystery, the thrill - even a few good twists! Although one I saw coming. Very enjoyable and I read it really quickly! Once it got really good, I didn't want to put it down!

Review originally posted on The Book Addict's Guide:I can honestly say that I was intrigued by THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING since the first page. Witness protection program? Yes, please! I mean, wait…. I just want to READ about it. In no way do I want to go through what our main character Meg had to. We first meet Meg as she and her family are getting pulled from her current location and it’s clear that life in the Witness Protection program has been no picnic. Meg, her father, her mother, and her younger sister known as “Teeny” all have some serious issues from hiding out, being on the run, and constantly moving. Their family dynamic was heartbreaking to see, but it seemed entirely realistic for the situation that they were in. My heart went out to them the whole book and I really felt like I connected with each one of them on such a personal level.

The concept for this book is so incredibly unnerving, but that tension kept me on my toes the whole book! Honestly, I would probably constantly be breaking down like Teeny if I had to watch my back my entire life, constantly remember these new identities, and constantly be ripped away from the new friends and “normal” life I once had. There were some really interesting plot twists that kept the pacing of THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING feeling like a thriller/mystery which was something exciting to see in the world of YA! I feel like mysteries are often wrapped in dystopians or paranormals and the thrillers are wrapped in horror so for me as a former mystery-lover, it was exciting to see this book stand more in the category of thriller/mystery without complicating the plot by throwing in a paranormal element or anything like that.

Despite Meg’s original plan to shut out everyone to protect herself, she meets Ethan. ETHAN!! Oh, how I loved Ethan in this book. He’s a nice country boy and NOT the jock (which I’m always happy for because I was never a jock person myself). He was so patient and sweet with Meg throughout this book and it absolutely made my heart melt. I loved the way their relationship developed and there were several times I was just like, “Ohhh, Ethan. I love you.” One thing that really did me in was that since Ethan worked on the farm, he had rough hands “like a man’s”. I may be biased because my boyfriend is a welder/fabricator and is always getting his hands into one project or another, but that totally made me appreciate Ethan even more. He was sturdy and strong and I totally fell for him!

The PLOT TWISTS! There were twists!! One I was totally shocked by and the other I could see coming but that didn’t take away from the fact that it was a wicked twist. The first twist totally surprised me and my literal reaction was “WHAT!?!” It was intense and really made the book that much better!
Profile Image for Joy (joyous reads).
1,488 reviews290 followers
May 21, 2013
On the run from the bad guys, Meg has been through several moves and identity changes. She's lived by a set of rules that had so far saved her sanity from their last two relocations. Under the Witness Protection Program, she's learned not to get attached, not to make friends and to make herself as invisible as possible. But when their family was yet again relocated to Louisiana, remaining incognito had become impossible. Thanks to a boy who wouldn't leave her alone, a family on the verge of inevitable destruction, and her ever growing loneliness and impatience at the uncertainty of their future. Meg was determined to find out exactly what had happened if it was the first step to getting a semblance of their old life back. Even so far as reliving a nightmare that had plagued her nights to get to the truth that would set her family free.

Ashley Elston's compelling debut lets the readers into the clandestined lives of those in the WPP, particularly of a family whose former life was as different as night and day from the nightmare they keep finding themselves in. Meg was a believable character who had learned to step up as their mother continued her descent into oblivion via alcohol. While their father continued to take things as they were, contented to flit from one form of life to another. Her sister, in the meantime, was talking less and less. She was angry for being kept in the dark, mollified each time she'd asked the whys. The frustration seeps from the book to the reader.

The book is broken down into a set of rules Meg has set for herself to help her get through the endless cycle of moving and switching identities. It was a disorganized, disquieting life where fear rules, accompanied by loneliness. It was not a life for a teenager, let alone an eleven year old. In a way, Ethan saved both girls from themselves. Meg has found a guy who needed to be the person who could put up with the back and forth, roller coaster of emotions that she goes through on a daily basis. Her sister, who was virtually withdrawn unto herself, had found a friend who coaxed her back into the world of the living. Ethan was the quintessential perfect book boyfriend, though a bit unbelievably perfect sometimes. I liked that he's got Meg numbered and pegged from the get-go but I didn't like that he was willing to put his life on the line for a girl he barely knew. But it's part of his charm: he's kind and gentlemanly and who couldn't stand the thought of a world without Meg.

Wonderful characters, unrelenting suspense and a sweet romance to boot. What more could you ask for but for a sequel?
Profile Image for Jana.
486 reviews116 followers
March 9, 2013
This was the first book I've ever read that's about the Witness Protection Program. I didn't really know a lot about it so I was looking forward to this book and I had very high hopes. But I guess my too high expectations were just tooo high and unforetunately, I was left really unsatisfied and unimpressed.

I had a bit of a problem regarding the characters. Meg really wasn't anything special. She was SO boring! She had no personality whatsover and let me tell you know, I wanted to strangle her younger sister. So spoiled and whiny! Ugh! I didn't connect with ANY of them. Which really sucks since I'm such a characters girl. The characters have to be special for me to even like the book. But nooo. All of them were like watching paint dry.

The love interest was probably the most memorable thing about this book and even he fell a little bit flat. Ethan's an adorable farm boy who kinda reminded me a little bit of Tucker from the Unearthly series. But then we all know nothing can match up to Tucker so yeah. He wasn't really that interesting and definitely won't be going to my Book Boyfriends list.

The plot was achingly slow. Like, really frigging slow. The first half nothing really did happen, it was just Meg being all paranoid and all about how they get settled into their new life. It wasn't until the second half where it all begins. The actions and the secrets all come out. And even then it wasn't enough to save this book. Also, the whole secret was so underwhelming. Really?? THAT IS ALL??

To sum up my feelings on this book: So disappointed. I was expecting a whole lot more from that synopsis, but it didn't give what I was hoping for.
Profile Image for Connie.
1,491 reviews26 followers
May 20, 2016
Source: I own an ebook copy of this book.
Cost: Free

Title: The Rules for Disappearing
Series: The Rules for Disappearing #1
Author: Ashley Elston
Overall Rating: 4 stars

Have you ever seen Our Lips Are Sealed? That 90's/2000's Mary Kate and Ashley film? That's what this book reminded me of, only more dark, and less fourth wall breaks. "Meg" and her family are in the witness protection programme and they don't know why, or at least Meg and her younger sister don't. Her dad works 12 hour shifts, her mum is an alcoholic, so Meg is left to care for her little sister and protect her from whatever is after them. There's also Ethan, the sexy farm boy who pays attention to her.

I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book, I got it on a whim, and I do not regret that in the slightest. This book was amazing. It held my attention really well and I think that the character building was very smart and everything was very well thought out!
Profile Image for BookHookup.
1,403 reviews110 followers
May 24, 2013
The original review for this title can be found HERE on The Book Hookup.

Christina's Review:

** Special Note: ** An eARC of this title was provided by the author/publisher via Net Galley for review purposes during the blog tour. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All quotes and opinions will be of this version and not from the published edition.


The Lowdown: Meg (or it could be Madeline, Isabelle, Olivia depending on where her family has been relocated) is in the Witness Protection program. We meet up with her on her sixth transport where she’ll be identified as Meg- senior, newly-dyed brunette with brown eyes- while staying in a rural town in Louisiana. It’s been eight months since her family was packed up in a hurry and sneaked out of her upscale palatial estate in Arizona, and during all this time, she’s never known why they’re in hiding and who they’re hiding from. To make matters worse, the stress of all the moving and secrecy is tearing her family apart. Her dad is paranoid, always on edge, and one phone call away from losing his mind. Her mother’s occasional drinking has escalated to hardcore liquor-pounding and that leaves the care of Meg’s baby sister, Teeny, solely on Meg.

On this last move, Meg is pretty positive she has it down to a science. One should always have a to-go bag. You don’t want to end up in a new place with nothing but the clothes on your back because you’ll never see anything from that life again. That identity? Yeah, it’s gone. Next, she sets out detailed list to live by because starting over and over every time has grown exhausting. Her rules are simple. One, she will not join any clubs. Two, she will not try out for cheerleading or any other sport/teams. Three, she will not make any friends. Four, she will discover the truth no matter what.

In theory, setting and following her own guidelines is easy. In actuality, all it takes is one boy to unravel everything.

My Thoughts: I’m going to admit that I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be enlisted in the Witness Protection Program. I always figured it would be a blast; the thrill (though I’m not a complete idiot, I realize it’d be scary as hell, too.) of being watched, having the ability to reinvent yourself in a moment’s notice, and being able to travel the country under a different alias seemed liked the perfect escape to me. Well, let me tell you now, Ms. Elston definitely made me reevaluate my perspective on the “fun” of it. It felt like a real peek into the life of a family on the run and I enjoyed getting swept into the story.

As an aside, at times I found myself a little irritated with the protagonists and her approach to handling her family and the stressful environment they’d been placed in; more so on her father than anyone. But then, I reconsidered her circumstances and the conditions she’d been placed in, especially after a bit of a life of luxury before, and quickly adjusted my view of her somewhat bratty behavior.

Pacing: There was definitely a steady rhythm that sucked you in from the beginning, throwing you headfirst into the suspense and giving just enough creepy situations to keep you intrigued to the end. I thought the author found a good balance between satisfying my curiosity and keeping me guessing. Though, I'll own up to staying up until almost 3AM because I had to have all the answers.

Swoons: Oh, Ethan was definitely a swoony guy. He was mostly a gentleman, but was slightly rough around the edges. He stole my heart during his interactions with Teeny and made me flail with how amazing he was at pushing “Meg’s” buttons and his determination to make her see him. But, it was his ability to make her feel normal and less frantic that edged him inside my swoony boy list forever. They were so cute together.

♥ Swoony teaser:

“Can you hang out or do you have to go home?” Ethan says, shoving a piece of pizza in his mouth.

I lean back again the booth. “I can stay out awhile. What do you have in mind?”

He wiggles his eyebrows. “Wanna go back to my place?”

I giggle at his cheesy line and hit him with one of my own. “Why? Wanna make like a fabric softener and Snuggle?”

He falls back, laughing then says, “If I told you that you had a great body, would you hold it against me?”

My cheeks get warm and I rack my brain for another line. He’s smiling, dimples and all, and waiting for my comeback. Oh! Got it! I move in closer, trying hard for a serious expression and say, “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.”

He braces his hands on the table and is inches from my face, eyes twinkling, and asks, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a dirty mind like mine?”

Verdict: Read this one! It had a few twists (that I figured out in advance, but other readers seemed to miss) spread throughout and I really loved the chemistry between Meg and Ethan. It was a relatively quick read with a nice little venture into the life of a family trying to survive. From the plot, to the writing, to the suspense, to the characters, I really enjoyed this novel in its entirety.

A very special thanks to the Disney-Hyperion and Net Galley for my initial galley and to Itching for Books and Ashley Elston for allowing The Book Hookup to be a part of this tour.
Profile Image for Jane (It'sJaneLindsey).
446 reviews509 followers
November 12, 2017
Maybe 3.25? I actually really enjoyed this and read it in one sitting, but the rating is based off of some writing and plot issues that I had along the way.
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,432 reviews1,324 followers
January 2, 2015
In The Rules for Disappearing we meet Meg Jones... or is it Madeline or Isabelle or Olivia. Meg herself is having trouble keeping it straight after eight months of new identities and new places to live.

This time Meg and her family have been yanked from their apartment in the middle of the night, her hair has been chopped off and she has to wear boring brown contacts. Her destination this time... rural Louisiana.

Over the last eight months she's found she has more and more questions though, and they center around her father and what he might have done to get them into this situation. Her sister is different these days, her mother drinks to forget and her father avoids.

Meg herself is determined not to join anything and not to make friends because it's inevitable that she won't be around long enough to enjoy any of it.

But she meets Ethan Landry on her first day and he immediately questions whether she's being honest about who she is and where she's from with everyone. Despite her best intentions to not get him involved in her life she can't stay away and he won't let her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story! From the plot to the characters to the writing style, it all worked for me.

I really liked Meg/Olivia/Isabelle/Madeline etc etc. She could have become a shell of herself after reinventing herself each time and she was well on her way, but the reminder that her sister needed her was a blessing and it kept her fighting to learn the truth and when everything finally comes together, while it wasn't a giant surprise, it still completely worked.

Ethan was incredibly sweet... but he wasn't. What I mean is that he wasn't a doormat who continued to let her hide the truth from him and push him away time after time and I appreciated that even though it did cause a bit of heartfail. LOL.

Ethan and Meg together were wonderful and totally satisfied my romance loving heart.

"I get it." He takes a step closer, putting his hands on my hips and his head comes in close. He whispers, "Thanks for saving my ass. I was just about to knock the shit out of him and that wouldn't have ended well."

"I can't speak. He kisses the side of my neck and I'm sure he can feel my pulse thumping. HE moves away from my neck until his face is inches from mine. His lips are so close but it's like he's waiting for me to close the gap between us. I hesitate for a second or so then lean in just enough to make contact. It's all the invitation he needs. His hands leave my hips only to move to the sides of my face. Kissing him is as good as I ever thought it would be."

 photo tumblr_m7oy4crDNr1rc4kt0o1_500.gif

The end has a bit of a twist to it... something even I didn't see coming, and after reading it I found that there is thankfully, a sequel coming out in 2014.

If you like action, a little romance, and a lot of mystery and suspense then I definitely recommend you pick up this book! It's a quick and wonderful read that I'm sure you'll enjoy just as much as I did.

Thanks to Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

This review can be found on my blog, Fic Fare:

Profile Image for Heather.
571 reviews
February 5, 2013
A more detailed, full review to be posted at The Flyleaf Review closer to publication.

This book grabbed my attention right away after reading the Goodreads synopsis: a fed up teenager in the Witness Protection Program trying to figure out what her dad must've done to land them there? INTRIGUING. And the good news is this book totally lived up to my expectations.

There are a lot of very cool things about this debut by author Ashley Elston. There is the engaging premise, who hasn't wondered what life must be like for people who end up in the Witness Protection Program (WPP)? Especially the kids who are forced into new identities during a time in their life when friendships and feeling like you belong are so important?

Another plus in The Rules for Disappearing? The main character of "Meg" (which is, of course, not her real name.) Meg is that awesome mix of snarky and self deprecating, yet at the same time, she is super protective of her little sister "Mary." It is so very easy to fall for Meg. Her situation sucks and she's feeling totally weighted down by this burden that is essentially a mystery to her. She has NO idea why her family has ended up in the WPP.

And that leads us to the next awesome thing about this book: the mystery/ thriller/ suspense aspects. There are a lot of twist and turns in this book. Some I saw coming and others that honestly took me by surprise. I love that we are seeing more YA falling into the thriller/ Suspense genre. And Ashley Elston writes it very, very well, you guys.

There is a romance written into the storyline too, but it does not overpower the plot. It's one of those funny and sweet romances, and I really liked the love interest Ethan. He feels very real and authentic. Like all the characters in the book, he has his share of insecurities and flaws and that bumps this up from being not just an interesting story that is well told, but a story with realistic, true to life characters that make you WANT to cheer them on and see them get their happily ever after.

To be fair there are a few plot threads that felt a bit unnecessary, they didn't seem to further the story along in my opinion, but they were really only a minor distraction and certainly didn't keep me from enjoying this book over all.

And lastly, can I just say that I LOVE that this book takes place in the south? And not just the south but deep in the heart of the Cajun south: Nachitoches, Louisiana. I have never traveled to that city, but reading about it in this book reminded me a great deal of other Louisiana cities I have visited. And this: Swamp Pizza. Pizza loaded down with crawfish, crab, shrimp, jalapenos and Andouille sausage? Meg finds it gross but I say Hey! Where can I get a slice of this because it sounds DELISH to me! I know not everyone is going to be familiar with this part of the country but as a southern girl, I really enjoyed it:)

In addition the book is extremely well written. I LOVED Meg's sarcastic, yet telling, "Rules for Disappearing by Witness Protection PRISONER #18A7R04M" excerpts that headed up each chapter. I have heard that there is a possible sequel in the works and the ending is definitely left on an open note. Whether Elston continues on with this story and these characters or not, I will, without a doubt, be reading more by this author in the future. Very impressive debut:)
Profile Image for Sara I.
843 reviews
June 15, 2013
I read a review for this book and was immediately interested. I mean it is about a girl who is fed up with WPP! It just sounds fun :) Plus the cover was pretty mysterious and the review was positive. So I was happy to pick this up at my library a couple weeks ago.

The Rules for Disappearing is about a girl named Meg. At this location anyway. It's not her real name, it's one that she chose for this town, it's her family's sixth placement in the witness protection program. She is sure that something her father has done has landed them in the program. She was yanked away from her life and after the first few placements she's learned not to make friends. It just hurts to much to leave. She is sick and tired of hiding and being unreal.

The moving and stress is tearing her family apart. Her sister is unstable sometimes, just freaked out about everything. Her mother is drinking herself into oblivion. It's getting serious. And her father is withdrawn and doesn't seem to want to deal with the problems. Meg is determined to get to the bottom of why they're in the program. Her first plan though? Not to make friends with anyone at school, to be invisible. That doesn't work out so well. Especially when a boy named Ethan starts asking her questions about her past.

Pros:Just the whole idea of the story rocks! I loved how cool and spy like a bunch of this book felt. She's trying to escape WPP...it's funny and deadly serious all at the same time. So the plot, really interesting. I did guess the "big reveal" pretty much. Although it's not really the huge plot explosion...only half so. It happens about the middle of the book or so. The ending is so super exciting so even if the secret is a bit guessable, the ending makes up for it. Ethan and Meg were so cute together :) Ethan was just so nice and sweet. Dependable. The fact that he wore camouflage so much made me reminded of a guy I know, so I can added his looks to Ethan. Yeah weird. But I really liked him. Meg I liked and I really was glad that the author pulled off her character so well. She could have come off so annoying and brat-ish, but she came out just right I think. She was tough but was still able to accept that she needed help. And she was sweet :)

Cons:Apart from some parts of the book being a little unrealistic (isn't that what we love about books though?) I didn't really have any problems with the writing and characters. There were a couple semi-minor characters that were annoying and didn't seem to have too much of a part, which could annoy some people. But there was a really cool scene towards the end that totally makes them worthy of being in the book.
Content wise there was some making out, I believe that they end up sleeping in the same bed but nothing really happens (sorry my brain is farting, but I think I would remember otherwise :P) and there is some violence mentioned/remembered from the past and blackmailing and FBI-like stuff. There were 215 cuss words.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The characters and adventure were both enjoyable and great :)I didn't like the language but otherwise the content wasn't bad. It was a sweet and action-packed adventure together. I would recommend to 14-15+ teen girls who enjoy some excitement, spy like stuff, and a touch of romance :)
Profile Image for nia&#x1f3f9; •shades0fpaper•.
849 reviews111 followers
July 18, 2017
You can find this review and others on my blog http://www.shades0fpaper.wordpress.com

“But there is one part of this that hurts. The carefree, normal part. The part of me that was lost when we first moved and that I’ll never get back.”

I have to say I’ve heard nothing about this book before I decided to pick it up, and I honestly don’t know why. This was my second Ashley Elston’s novel I’ve read, and after loving This is Our Story, I wanted to pick up another book by her, so this was one I was intrigued by. And even though I didn’t adore it as much as I liked her other novel, I have to say it was still a pretty good book and I enjoyed reading that type of plot.

I believe I have never read a book where our main character was in a witness protection program (there was one episode in Criminal Minds and I found it so interesting but no books), so reading through the eyes of someone who is in one was quite unique and intriguing (even though it probably wasn’t 100% accurate but still). There was also this whole mystery surrounding the main character Meg and her family and the reason why they were in that program. I really loved that atmosphere, it made me want to keep reading to discover what happened and why they were running away from, so that was pretty cool!

“He hugs me tight while I look behind him, scanning faces like I did a few seconds ago. And like I will do for the rest of my life.”

I have to say sometimes I wanted to strangle Meg, but I think she was a very real character other times. I loved the relationship with her sister (she was super adorable) and even though there was a lot of drama with the family, I have to say her interactions with her little sister were pretty nice. You could see how they cared about each other and I love to read stories about sisterhood (even though it wasn’t the main focus on the novel).

I also really enjoyed the romance and her love interest. Usually ships are a hit or miss to me (mostly hits but there were other times where I hate the couples!) but I really like Ethan! There’s a bit insta love-ish at first, but I really enjoyed how the author made them friends before turning them into lovers (I’M LIVING FOR THOSE STORIES WHEN THEY’RE DONE RIGHT) and also Ethan was a really cute guy who worried so much about Meg and honestly, he wasn’t mean or anything.

“Don’t forget who is a friend and who is a foe. And don’t forget, sometimes a person can be both.”

What I have to add is that it was a bit predictable to me. Now me being me I knew I had 90% chances to discover the whole plot twist before it actually happened, and I was right. I knew most of those things, so they didn’t surprise me as much as if I probably wouldn’t know (duh). There were a couple of things that felt quite obvious and so I was like “well… okay”, BUT there was something I didn’t know that had to do with the things I guessed, so that’s why I didn’t lower my rating that much, because I still enjoyed the story.

And after that ending… I really want to continue reading the second installment because I’ve already had a few theories and I’m super pumped to figure everything out!
Profile Image for Z (Through The Inked Pages).
77 reviews9 followers
May 30, 2013
Hm.. This review will most likely contain spoilers.

2 stars seems like too much for me. I really liked the first 3/4 of this, but the ending just went downhill. I don't have The Rules For Disappearing next to me, so I can't really extract examples from the book that I disliked (I will once the weekend comes).

The Rules for Disappearing has nice characters, and there were some funny moments. However, I felt detached from the characters. Meg is just confusing and hard to connect with. I understand what Meg is going through, and her character is greatly dynamic, but there were some situations that she could have handle well without overreacting. (ergggh! It's so hard to review without glancing at the book as I write!) The romantic moments were dull...because of Meg. While Meg and Ethan were together, I couldn't feel the moment because you have Ethan being the romantic, and then you have Meg like, I want him so bad. I want him to kiss me. But then you have her thinking, I can't do this. I can't risk my leaving him if I have to. It's not confusing, just extremely irritating. Either you give yourself to him or you don't. You're only making [adorable] Ethan look like a stray puppy following you around everywhere. Goodness! Meg could at least tell him something while she's still clueless (about everything) instead of running away at every single chance Ethan gets.

The ending. Oh! the ending. tsk tsk. This is probably the second or third book I've read with the ending being blown out of proportion. You have the exposition and climax going well, and you expect the ending to be good, but this was just extreme. It reminds me of Beautiful Disaster 's resolution and *takes a breath* absolute mess. The Rules For Disappearing's ending was nothing about BD's ending, but it was damn near it. These kinds of things actually happen, I know. But I don't think it's something you should just throw in for a "good" ending if there was no hint or some type of base for it. It only becomes overwhelming. After the "chaos" that happened, Meg is still like, Who could have done this? when it's quite obvious. Really obvious. Too obvious. Dammit, it's so obvious that I laughed out of frustration.
Oh, and Rob has something to say about that...

Overall, I enjoyed the first 3/4 of The Rules for Disappearing. So you know what I'm going to do? I'm rating the first 3/4 as 3.5 stars and the ending as 1 star. This is the first and last time I am ever doing this.

Review available on my blog: Stop And Smell The Books
Profile Image for Sana.
1,094 reviews961 followers
September 4, 2015
Mystery always pull me in so it's no surprise that I wanted to read The Rules for Disappearing. It's like a book about multiple personality disorder without the actual disorder. It makes me think and think hard about life on the run. It isn't always glamorous. It isn't always oh-so-cool. The reality hit me hard and I left me on the floor gaping.

There is irony in the way each chapter begins with a rule, the rule Meg simultaneously breaks. I felt her pain and I kept thinking why did Ashley Elston chose a rural town for all hell to break loose? Why did it took six identity changes for Meg to finally hit rock bottom, emotionally and physically? These questions kept me going.

It's clear from the narrative that life as Meg is as far and opposite from her original life as it could be. Nondescript clothing, hair that makes her look like a boy, dull brown eyes and riding in a school bus as a senior is almost too much to bear. And it doesn't help that she meets Ethan Landry in her first moments on the first day of school. The new-girl-in-the-middle-of-school-year is bound to attract attention and she does attract attention. Of the most popular girl in high school (as popular as one can get in Natchitoses anyway).

For most part of the book, Meg is at the edge of her nerves and it shows. Her mother is an alcoholic, her father is being way too mysterious and acting suspiciously and Teeny is on the verge of break at only eleven years of age. It seems Meg is the only one keeping it together. Or at least the one trying the hardest.

But I was waiting for a twist to arrive, a hand to pull back the curtain on the mystery a little bit. So I was a little disappointed when it came in the form of a nightmare on Meg's part. Clichéd. Then she gets paranoid by thinking that someone is out to get her. And oh, she also owns a notebook in which she writes her thoughts and feelings.

Meg knows that the only way out is to go back to the beginning and then it gets crazy. We did get glimpses of her past life, her crush and her BFF betrayal throughout the book but the reality is pretty twisted. I got to say, I was not expecting that kind of a mystery at all. But it wasn't the ohmiGod-is-this-really-happening kind of a mystery at all, it was more low-key and oh-so-that-was-what-we-were-getting-at one. The book also has a little road trip which made my heart soar a little bit. So yay for that.

Ethan is a sweet farm boy and I liked how he kept coming in the pizza place where Meg took a job. They have a hot-and-cold thing going on because Meg knows that getting attached only leads to hurt and Ethan has no idea what he is getting into. Teeny is a great character, I loved the sisterly relationship she has with Meg.

Overall, The Rules for Disappearing is a dynamic read. I'd still recommend it to readers because it offers a good character development, well-placed plot and is a quick read. It'd be interesting to see how the series proceed now that we finally know her real name and the mystery.
Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
June 6, 2013
Meg (it's Anna really) is in the witness protection program with her family and she is now on her sixth move. This time she is determined to survive it unscathed, meaning no clubs, no friends, and no boyfriends. And this time she is going to find out what her father did to get them into all this. Her mother is drinking too much, her little sister is withdrawing into herself, and her dad is not telling her anything.

I was intrigued by the premise of the book, probably because I don't read a lot of suspense stuff. The fact that it was set in Louisiana gave it a different setting than the usual. I liked that. I also liked the developing relationship she has with her dad.

The problems I had with the book were mostly minor annoyances, but it took away from my enjoyment. Yes her life is not the best but the way she goes about it I just didn't like it. Anna would whine about things like how going on the school bus her senior year was humiliating and made her a loser. She seems kind of immature about the situation, but she is a teenager and she does have her reasons so I tried not to let her complaining bother me too much. Also I didn't feel as much urgency or suspense as I thought I would. The romance with Ethan felt like too much too fast and actually unrealistic. Most of the time I can take some unrealistic situations (it's fiction for a reason) but I could tell the writing was trying to be realistic. I couldn't buy it entirely.

At times I could feel for her though. The second half I liked better, so if you don't like the beginning you may like it near the end. I can’t really talk about it without giving spoilers though.

Now the end left some unanswered questions and I slammed the book covers in frustration without reading the acknowledgments, but then I saw this is part of the series and simmered down. I might read the next book, but probably not.
Profile Image for Emily Donnellan.
553 reviews429 followers
May 24, 2013
The Rules for Disappearing follows Meg as she tries to figure out what happened to land her family in the witness protection program. She has been in 6 placements since she got stuck in the program and her family is falling apart. Meg wants this to be her last placement but with her track record she isn’t hopeful.

Possibly my favorite thing about this novel was that Meg had a part time job at a Pizza Place. When I was in High School my family owned a pizza place so I really relate to characters that work at family owned pizzeria’s. It also instantly biases me to enjoying a novel more when I see a character working.

I really liked Meg she was very mature and willing to do anything to protect her family and those she cared about. My favorite thing about her was her relationship with her younger sister Mary. Meg took care of her, got her to school, and helped her come out of the shell that she had assembled because of the program. I also liked that Meg was really no-nonsense, she didn’t get roped in to school drama and she was willing to call people out.

Another aspect of this novel I enjoyed was the relationship between Meg and Ethan. Ethan was both sweet and supportive. He didn’t press too hard when Meg was unwilling to give him information about her past, and when everything did come out he was there for her and willing to do anything to help. He was the model of how a good boyfriend should act.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Rules for Disappearing it was action packed with enough twists and turns to keep me interested and I am eagerly looking forward to the sequel!
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