Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

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.

Released: May 7th 2013          Pages: 358
Publisher: Philomel                 Source: Library

First Look: ****A few months ago, I read one of David Levithan's other books, Every Day, and loved it.  This one had a similar premise, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Setting: ***** 
This was one realistic novel where the setting actually played a role in the story, which was nice.  I appreciated that aspect, as I feel setting is underused in realistic novels.  There was a nice contrast between Stephen's familiarity with New York City, and Elizabeth's unfamiliarity. 

Characters: ***** 
Stephen was a fascinating character.  The authors did a fabulous job painting a picture of a life where no one sees you.  I love that concept, and the pain that it gave Stephen was real and raw.  It's an interesting what-if question, and though we'll never have a real-life situation like it, it's fun to imagine the possibilities.  Stephen himself was easy to connect with, despite the fact that I've never been invisible.  He takes a desire that many people have had--who hasn't ever wanted to be invisible for a day?--and shows another side of it, a darker side.

So many other reviewers have said this, but I'm going to say it again.  Laurie.  If Stephen was the darker, raw character, Laurie showed the lighter side.  He'd endured his own bit of trauma, but he still stayed upbeat and supportive, not to mention funny.  He came across as a strong character, as well as a strong person.

The weak link was Elizabeth.  Maybe it was that her troubles paled in comparison to Stephen's; I don't know.  My connection with her while reading was nowhere near as strong as with Stephen.  I couldn't bring myself to sympathize as much with her character.

 Plot: ***** I enjoyed the beginning.   There was an obvious example of insta-love, which I think is half justified.  It makes sense for Stephen to fall in love, since no person other than Elizabeth has seen him.  I'm not so sure if Elizabeth's sudden love was justified.

Anyway, the beginning.  The first part of the novel was sweet, philosophical, and intriguing.  It spent more time developing the relationship between Elizabeth and Stephen than anything else, and I was okay with that.  I loved the questions that were raised by Stephen's invisibility, and how they affected the storyline. 

I started having problems when the cursecaster and spellseeker aspects were introduced.  The first half of the book focused inward, to the characters, but the second half focused outward, and I didn't like the shift.  The addition of cursecasters, etc. felt forced, like someone felt they couldn't leave the story alone with no explanation.  It turned the story from quiet, philosophical love story to urban fantasy adventure.  This, for me, was the novel's main weakness. 

 Uniqueness: ****
Again, the beginning was fresh and interesting, but the second half fell into a more overused storyline.

Writing: *****
I enjoyed Stephen's point of view chapters.  The writing style was lovely, and really allowed for me to connect with the character.  There was some moments where I stopped and read a sentence again because I liked it so much.  I'm not sure whose point of view this is from, but here's a lovely one:

“People say that time slips through our fingers like sand. What they don't acknowledge is that some of the sand sticks to the skin. These are memories that will remain, memories of the time when there was still time left.”   

My problem was that Elizabeth's point of view sounded too much like Stephen's.  I say it this way, and not the other way around, because I think the more poetic style fit Stephen.  It sounded like him.  Elizabeth is more cynical, though, and the style didn't fit her as well.  I wish there could have been more distinction between the two.

 Likes: I love the ending.  I really do.  I'm one of those readers that don't feel cheated when all the loose ends aren't tied up.  If done well, I love an open-ended ending.

 Not-so-great: The cursecaster/spellseeker aspects ruined it a bit for me.  I honestly would have been just fine if Stephen's invisibility wasn't explained at all.  Sometimes, it's okay for authors to present a what-if situation like this and explore it without trying to force an explanation.

Also, if cursed people are everywhere, and as common as Elizabeth was finding them, then how does the general public still not know about any of this?

Overall: Invisibility starts out as a lovely novel.  Some of the writing is quite poetic, and Stephen's character is fascinating.  Elizabeth is weaker, both as a character and in terms of point of view chapters.  At the beginning, this book has definite echoes of Levithan's Every Day and its philosophical questions.  Unfortunately, the book takes a turn for the paranormal, and for me, this was its downfall.  Still, I liked the beginning enough to give it four stars as a whole.
 


Similar Books: It is a love story that asks a surreal what-if question and explores the possibilities, like in Every Day, or, to a lesser extent, The Everafter.   Stephen and Elizabeth's relationship reminds me of Sam and Grace's in Shiver

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