“When no one can see who you are, no one really knows you. The loneliness must be like an ulcer that’s always gnawing at your gut.”
A magical romance between a boy cursed with invisibility and the one girl who can see him, by New York Times bestselling authors Andrea Cremer and David Levithan.
Stephen is used to invisibility. He was born that way. Invisible. Cursed.
Elizabeth sometimes wishes for invisibility. When you’re invisible, no one can hurt you. So when her mother decides to move the family to New York City, Elizabeth is thrilled. It’s easy to blend in there.
Then Stephen and Elizabeth meet. To Stephen’s amazement, she can see him. And to Elizabeth’s amazement, she wants him to be able to see her—all of her. But as the two become closer, an invisible world gets in their way—a world of grudges and misfortunes, spells and curses. And once they’re thrust into this world, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how deep they’re going to go—because the answer could mean the difference between love and death.
It is no secret that I have high praises for David Levithan as a writer, so every books of him solo or co-authored with other writers is a must read for me. So when I found out that there is another new release from him which he co-written with another known author, Andrea Cremer, I just can’t help myself but to get a copy of his new book right away it hit the local book stores. This is my first Andrea Cremer read, though I own a copy of the first two books of her Nightshade series, I still haven’t got the chance to start reading her books yet. I’m thinking of getting a copy of the final book of Nightshade series first before starting the first book. At least by that I can devour the whole series continuously.
I’m used into reading contemporary stories from David Levithan, and I know how good he is in that genre. So when I found out that Invisibility is more on paranormal, I can’t help but get excited to discover how he will attacked a story that is not in his comfort zone. As of I know this is something new for him, unless you want to classify Every Day as paranormal which for me is not. Invisibility also happens to be the first and only book so far from him with a single word in its title, so this book is like breaking a norm for David Levithan.
Invisibility tells the story of Stephen, a boy cursed to be invisible even before he was born. No one can see him, not his mother who take care of him for fifteen years until she dies, and not even his own self. He doesn’t know why he is invisible, but still learned to accept his situation. He doesn’t go to school, doesn’t interact with people even how much he wants to be part of the world he lives in. He survive every day in a busy place of New York with the help of his absentee father’s bank account. He lives on his own, navigating the big and busy world around him, until he met Elizabeth, the only person who can actually see him.
“I am not solid to the world, but the world is solid to me. The curse is its own intricately woven, often contradictory web, and I was born into it. I am an unknowing slave to its design… It isn’t loneliness really. Because loneliness comes from thinking you can be involved in the world, but aren’t. Being invisible is being solitary without the potential of being anything but solitary. So after a while, you step aside from the world. It’s like you’re in a theater, alone in the audience, and everything else is happening on stage.”
The story is written in alternating point of view between the two main characters, Stephen and Elizabeth. Which I assume counterparts the two authors, David Levithan and Andrea Cremer respectively. As a constant reader of David Levithan works it is easy for me to distinguish his writing. Though Invisibility is not as language or words treat as his other works, it is still easy to pin point his unique writing style from the voice and depth of his character. Stephen sounds so much like David Levithan with his profound thoughts and contemplative voice, which is perfect for Stephen’s isolated background as an invisible guy.
Stephen instantly full me in from the first pages of the book. His voice carries authenticity, loneliness and hope which all makes easy to feel and care for him. Even the reality of his situation is far from possible, it is still easy to believe it as real. He is optimistic and full of gratitude for someone who is curse all his life. He is cautious and introspective which resulted from being alone.
“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 the memories that will remain, memories of the time when there was still time left.”
Stephen’s part of the narration carry the contemporary feel while the other character, Elizabeth is more on the paranormal side. So basically the whole story is paranormal romance with a touch of realistic fiction. Combining paranormal and contemporary is an interesting idea and at the same time tricky. I don’t know exactly how should it be done, but in here I think the blending of two worlds is not as smooth as I expected. From the first part, I thought it would be contemporary read with a little supernatural touch like what David Levithan did with Every Day, where even there are not realistic part you still feel the reality of the situation as true.
Invisibility started just like that, contemporary and realistic even with the invisibility plot, which I certainly like. But as I read more from Elizabeth point of view, the contemporary feels gradually lost . As much as I want the story to stay on its original tone, the presence of Elizabeth’s character is too powerful to carry the same tone that the story started. She overpowered Stephen’s character to the point that it feels that the story is too focus on her even in fact it is all about Stephen’s invisibility.
And to be honest I got a hard time enjoying Elizabeth’s character. It’s like a hot and cold relationship between her and me. I like her at some parts especially at the first third of the story where she is still more like some normal teenager who just happens to be the only one who can see Stephen. But when the reason for her ability to see Stephen is revealed I totally lost interest in her. I want to root for her but she become too obsessed with magic and curses that it feels she is straying in the real world, a world where she and Stephen should be. Though I understand her motivations in doing everything she think she can do to save or cure Stephen, I am also skeptical with everything she is doing.
Between Elizabeth and Stephen, obviously I like Stephen’s voice more than Elizabeth. Elizabeth carry unnecessary angst that lessen my desire to like her. Her bitter and jaded personality predominant in comparison to Stephen’s calm and intro-perspective personality. Thank God there is another character in the story that stole my focus to Elizabeth, her brother Laurie. Laurie feels like another character from David Levithan, if you read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, another book David Levithan co-authored, you know what I’m talking about. Laurie was the one who induced fun moments in the story. He is vibrant, optimistic and has more personality than the other two characters combined.
As for the ending, I should have know better than to expect a neatly wrapped package or happily ever after ending. Because from my experience with David Levithan other works, I know how he can easily throw something open-ended but at the same time hopeful ending to his stories. Like with his last book Every Day, not everything is resolved but as I reader you still believe that even the author didn’t laid out all in plain and simple ending, you still left to believe that somehow the characters get their proper closure and maybe the happily ever after that wasn’t told explicitly.
Invisibility has a unique premise, a different kind of love story which I think could have been extraordinary, but somehow didn’t fully work in all aspects. As much as I want to praise David Levithan for another creative and unique work, the collaboration with another author this time doesn’t blend well. Andrea Cremer overpowered him with the paranormal aspect which doesn’t work for me. I love the part where the story feels more contemporary than fantasy, where David Levithan is mostly in charge. I think if the story continue in the same tone where it started, I will love this book more.