Pros: Funny. Accurately portrays the actions, dialogue and relationships of a fifteen year old boy.
Cons: Several important parts of the story are very unrealistic.
The Bottom Line: If one can accept the unrealistic parts of this story, it is a worthwhile read for adolescents and adults. I loved how it captured the sarcastic voice of a teenager.
What would you do if you were a working parent, and you woke up one day and discovered that your fifteen year old son was suddenly completely invisible? Would you scream? Would you panic? Would you call for help? If so, who would you call? Would you go to work? Also, if you were the now invisible fifteen year old boy, would your life be better or worse off?
This is the scenario that unfolds in the first chapter of Andrew Clemens Young Adult Science Fiction story Things Not Seen. My son and I had the pleasure of reading this book for a Parent-Child Book Discussion Group to which we belong.
Yes, Bobby has woken up and is suddenly invisible, with no apparent warning or explanation. His highly intelligent parents quickly decide to keep this a secret from others, to avoid a media and government circus. And, yes, they both go to work.
Now, let me tell you, that if my own fifteen year old son were suddenly invisible, I would call for help from any and every source, I would call everyone I know in a blind panic, and I would definitely NOT go to work! I found that part pretty unrealistic right off the bat. However, the cloak of secrecy and having Bobby home alone were required ingredients for the way the author wished to have the storyline proceed.
If you can accept that Bobbys parents went to work, and accept that Bobby can tell NO ONE that he is invisible, then you might just enjoy the rest of this book.
Very brief synopsis: The story focuses on Bobbys coping with sudden invisibility that, again, he cannot reveal to others. So, automatically, he cannot get together with his friends. He cannot go to school or do other normal activities. How will he live his life this way? Eventually, Bobby meets a young blind girl, and the two of them quickly develop a friendship and special bond. Yes, Alicia cannot see, and Bobbie cannot be seen. They help each other cope with their disabilities, and over time they begin to care deeply about each other. The story also focuses on the family's hunt for the explanation and the remedy for Bobby's invisibility. Want to hear more? Great! Go read this book!
The tone of the book: While this book is classified as Science Fiction, because of the whole invisibility thing, it is more of a story of relationships. Specifically, Bobbys relationship with his parents, and with Alicia. It is also a coming-of-age story, as Bobby deals with the concepts of independence, responsibility, and falling in love. The book is written in the first person, and Bobby is drawn as a very sarcastic and witty person. All of us at the Book Club agreed that Bobby really sounded like a fifteen year old. He reminded me very much of my own fifteen year old son. Lots of sarcastic wisecracks to his parents. Hiding behind the locked door of his bedroom to think about his problems. Clearly the author knows how fifteen year old boys act and think! In fact, I think he must know my son! Bobbys wit and sarcasm are wonderful and I found myself laughing out loud many times as I read this tale.
My reaction: My son and I enjoyed this story very much, as did the other eight attendees of the Book Club. It is an engaging tale and at 252 pages, this small book makes a fairly quick read. I believe that most young adolescent boys and girls, the target audience, would enjoy this tale. There is plenty of suspense. We also are treated to the touching story of an adolescent boy as he grows into a mature young man, and encounters dilemmas and a lovely friendship-turning-to-romance, along the way.
The story also allows us to see what life would be like if we were invisible and no one could know it. Although invisibility does confer some advantages, it is, in the final analysis, an extremely isolating, painful and lonely experience.
Several unrealistic decisions are made, and there are a couple of coincidences in this story that seemed too far-fetched for me to accept. That was a significant shortcoming to the book. In fact, if I had not needed to read this book for the book club, I might have quit reading it because I did not buy the unrealistic foundation upon which the story builds. However, I am really glad I stuck it out. Let me also reassure parents that this is an innocent, G-rated book.
If one can overlook the numerous coincidences and unrealistic facets of this tale, I would recommend this story to older children, adolescents and adults. I suppose that if you are drawn to science fiction and a book about an invisible teenager, you might be inclined to overlook a few unrealistic features, after all!