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Book Reviews

Review: “Invisibility,” Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

March 31, 2014
Review: “Invisibility,” Andrea Cremer & David LevithanInvisibility (Standalone)
Written by Andrea Cremer, David Levithan
Published May, 2013 by Philomel Books
358 pages
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy
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two-stars

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.

Oh, gosh. I really wanted to love this one – Andrea Cremer and David Levithan? It was certain to be a hit for me. Sadly, it just wasn’t. Invisibility picked up a lot around the middle mark, but it just wasn’t enough for me to forgive a lot of the negative aspects I encountered when starting the book.

I love Andrea Cremer’s work (the Nightshade series was fantastic) and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which David Levithan co-wrote with Rachel Cohn is an all-time favourite of mine. When I heard the two were writing a book together, I was absolutely thrilled. Throw in some fantasy in the way of an invisibility curse and the bustling backdrop of NYC and I was sure Invisibility was going to be a winner.

I guess I just didn’t come to love the characters. Looking back, I never really connected with Stephen or Elizabeth – or even Elizabeth’s ‘lovable’ brother Laurie. I felt that Laurie was one of those characters the authors are unashamedly throwing in your face, hoping you’ll love them. It just kinda grated on my nerves after a while. Elizabeth wasn’t a likeable lead, either and Stephen was bland and boring despite his unusual affliction.

I guess it comes at no shock then that because I didn’t like the two leads, I didn’t enjoy their romance, either. A lot of reviews are commenting on the ‘insta-love’ factor in Invisibility, and I suppose I have to as well. It was just… unexpected that I would come into contact with it in a book by Andrea Cremer or David Levithan, for that matter. I felt as if the two authors were dumbing down their talents and making a predictable, cliche YA novel and they are both just so above that.

For the first half (or quarter?) of the book, everything is sunshine and rainbows for Stephen and Elizabeth. Things suddenly take an unexpected turn when the world of Cursecasters and Spellseekers is revealed, peeling back the layers of the seemingly ordinary city of New York. While things did get more interesting with this introduction, I felt as if the book should have been either or. Either establish the story as a cute, little contemporary romance with some invisibility thrown in (I’m thinking Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland-Stone, which managed just fine with Bennet’s time-travelling abilities being the only ‘fantasy’ element in the whole book) or indicate that this is going to be a major upheaval of the world as we know it from the beginning. The transition from ‘romance with a twist’ to ‘MAGIC EXISTS AND YOU’RE A PART OF IT, ELIZABETH!’ was a little jarring.

I suppose I should have expected that Elizabeth was to be the ‘next big thing’ in the magic world since the ‘insta-love’ was already running rampant. I just felt it was really unnecessary. Along with Elizabeth’s abilities came a new cast of characters (Millie and Saul) as well as our antagonist, Stephen’s grandfather Maxwell Arbus.

The story steered in a very different direction from then on, and while it kept me turning the pages, I didn’t feel that Invisibility was bringing anything unique or fresh to the fantasy/supernatural genre. There were no gems or unexpected twists in this story, and to be quite honest I am disappointed with how it ended. The ending left me wondering just ‘why’ we had to go through that whole ‘adventure’ for things to remain how they started.

I’m glad this novel is a standalone (or so I believe) because even though the ending hints at further adventures, I think they’re better left to the readers imaginations. Invisibility just wasn’t a hit for me, no matter how much I wanted it to be.

Recommended to: If you’re going into this book purely for the Andrea Cremer/David Levithan factor, be warned. Insta-love, a predictable plot and forgettable characters may prove a difficulty for you.

About Andrea Cremer

Andrea Cremer spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She now lives in Minnesota, but she thinks of her homeland as the "Canadian Shield" rather than the Midwest. When she's not writing, Andrea teaches history at a very nice liberal arts college in St. Paul.

About David Levithan

David Levithan is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, 'Boy Meets Boy', in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

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