Monday, 20 May 2013

book review: invisibility by andrea cremer and david levithan

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
Genre: Paranormal(ish!) YA
Rating: 5/10
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.

If any book was going to deal with 'looking beneath the surface' you'd think that it'd be a book about invisibility but this book fell flat to me because it was ALL surface. The main characters were both fine but as the book pretty much starts (there's a 5 page info dump to spell out the 'rules' of Stephen's invisibility) with Stephen/Elizabeth's meet-cute their back-stories are never fully developed and their personalities never really rounded out - they're given 'ticks' (Elizabeth likes comics, Stephen likes the park) but it was too easy to misinterpret who was narrating each chapter. More importantly, the book doesn't get the balance of magical realism right. For the first 100pages it reads like your standard contemporary YA - girl moves to new city, meets cute boy next door, they flirt, fall in love, but he has a secret etc. - in which one of the characters just happens to be invisible. Then the magic is revealed (Stephen's invisibility is the result of a curse) but the mythology of this magic is never really developed - there's very little history and there's no sense of the magical realm extending beyond our characters. You could MAYBE get away with this superficial mythology IF the magic was simply a vehicle to enable the authors to tell a story focussed on the experience of invisibility and how Stephen navigates through the world knowing that he can never really be a part of it but the book isn't doing that. The book isn't about what it means to be invisible and the magic isn't the subject of the story so in the end I was left feeling more than a little confused as to what the point of it all was.

Recommended if you want standard contemp YA with a dash of Neil Gaiman but if you like your fantasy with plenty of world-building I'd give this a miss.

1 comment:

  1. Gah, I'm sorry you didn't like this one more! I've been reading mixed reviews for this and I don't think it sounds like a book I would enjoy very much. I'm intrigued that there's magical realism but sorry it's not done well. Thanks for your honest review!