Written by: Andrea Cremer, David Levithan
Published by: Penguin
Release date: May 7th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.
Invisibility is a book that I was really looking forward to. So naturally, when reviews started to surface I read as many as I could. And then I got nervous. Most reviews I read agreed that the first half and the second half of this book are very different. From what I could tell, the first half was something I would adore – invisible boy falls in love with the girl who can see him. Many people said it had a very contemporary-romance feel to it, which was good news. I was looking forward to that. But apparently in the second half, the world suddenly expands to encompass all the cursecasters and magic stuff that the summary (above) talks about, and it totally changes the feel of the book. But ehhh, said I, how bad could that be, really?
Ah, my hopeful ignorance.
Even though I knew what I’d signed up for going into it, I still let myself hope that maybe I could make myself see past the things that others had mentioned not liking (ie, the different tones of the two halves), and really enjoy the whole book. Unfortunately, the most I can say after reading it is, “Yeah, I liked it, but…” Because what I got from those two halves is, there was something that could have been really special about the first half, but with everything that’s revealed and everything that the characters do in the second half, it kind of ruined things for me.
The good thing is, the first half of the book was great. I really liked Stephen as a character. His curse of invisibility was interesting, and I liked the way he handles himself and keeps his spirits up, despite not being able to interact much with the world around him. Invisibility alternates between his and Elizabeth’s perspectives, and I enjoyed reading Stephen’s chapters. He had a sensitivity about him, his narration was thoughtful, and he had a unique perspective on the world.
I also liked Elizabeth – in the first half. She’s a very down-to-earth teen. Her characterization isn’t Super Unique when it comes to other YA heroines, but I enjoyed her narration and I really loved her relationship with her brother Laurie. Laurie himself was truly a highlight of the book, and when things started to go downhill in the second half, he was the constant bright spot whom I knew I could always count on.
Stephen and Elizabeth together were adorable. There was definitely some insta-love going on, but I was able to shrug it off and just enjoy their relationship, especially the part before Elizabeth realizes the guy she’s crushing on is invisible. Stephen’s never interacted normally with anyone before (even his parents, who also couldn’t see him), so his narration in these chapters is pretty funny.
As was expected, however, things did go downhill about halfway through. Actually I think it was less than halfway through, but whatever. As soon as the characters start learning more about Stephen’s curse, and why Elizabeth can see him, the book totally changed. Instead of being a more thoughtful contemporary-romance-with-paranormal-twist, it turned into… something that’s not.
When Elizabeth and Stephen try to find out if there’s a way to break his curse, the focus moves from Stephen and Elizabeth and onto the world of cursecasters and magic. We soon find out that Elizabeth is Special (I’ll not give away details though), and that’s why she can see Stephen. The focus then splits, since we’re still switching POV’s: We have Stephen, who’s constantly worried about Elizabeth and is pretty much kept in the dark on a lot of things; and then we have Elizabeth, who’s on her own a lot and keeping secrets from everyone. Once this happens, she stops interacting with Stephen very much (or her narration is limited to things like “we hung out”, but all of the chemistry from the earlier chapters is gone), and many of her actions during this time just… bothered me.
Overall, it felt like the two halves just weren’t balanced at all – the first half lacking the more “quest-driven” plot, and the second half lacking the thoughtfulness of the first. In a perfect world, I would have really enjoyed a story where the feel of the first half encompassed the whole book. I love the contemporary feel, almost more realistic fiction except for the whole “invisibility” thing. And I could’ve done without cursecasters and a whole host of magical backstory. Another alternative I would have settled for, would have just been a more balanced take on things, letting the more intimate feel of the first half permeate the second a little bit more, even if the cursecaster stuff was still a main focus. As it was, it was totally unbalanced.
So, after that big switch in focus, the book sort of lost me. I was still curious what would happen with Stephen and Elizabeth because I liked the first part, but all the “extras” really got on my nerves in the second. And finally, what would have been a climactic ending was sort of a let-down because I wasn’t feeling as attached to Stephen and Elizabeth as I was in the beginning – which is weird, because shouldn’t you feel more attached to characters after knowing them longer? =/ And the “resolution” was not what I was hoping for either – it gives me the feeling that there should be at least one sequel, but I don’t think I’ll be able to read it if there is.
I was thinking about giving this book 3 stars – I really liked the first half, didn’t hate the second, and didn’t have too much trouble staying interested in what would happen. But I think 3 is too generous after my feelings about the second half, and the resolution, and the fact that, no, I will not be reading a sequel if there is one. So 2.5 stars it is. Overall, it was a disappointment, and I wouldn’t recommend getting into it unless it’s the second half that sounds appealing to you.
(PS. After finishing this book, for some reason, I immediately thought of The Art of Wishing, by Lindsay Ribar. I’m not sure why, but I feel like there are a lot of similarities between it and Invisibility. Wishing is fun and light, and reads a lot like a contemporary romance except for the fact that a main character is a genie. The major difference between The Art of Wishing and Invisibility is that I adored AoW. So if you liked the sort of contemporary feel of the first half of Invisibility, but were disappointed by the second half, you might want to give that one a try. You can check out my review here.)