Authors: Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
Category: Young Adult
Format: ARC (gifted)
Release Date: 5-7-13
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. – Goodreads
I think when I saw David Levithan’s name on this book I expected I lyrical and philosophical examination of identity with perhaps some unusual elements. While the writing did show moments of great beauty, it wasn’t what I expected, but that ended up being a good thing. Stephan was a fascinating character to me, being born invisible (yes, that will be explained in the story) and living a life where he has never even seen himself, much less had the people he loves see him. This set the groundwork for some very touching scenes as Elizabeth is able to offer him something he has never really experienced; a chance to see himself. After I finished this book I realized that the story operated on two levels. Level one was the central paranormal plot that involved curses, newly discovered abilities, and a good old fashioned battle between good and evil. The second, and perhaps more subtle level, was a story about a relationship that is usual, yes, but still had the elements that every intense teenage relationship has. Yes, Stephen and Elizabeth fall in love very quickly. I understood this more from Stephan’s point of view since he has been invisible his whole life and *BAM* a pretty girl is the only person who sees him. Of course he would fall in love with her. However, their relationship carries all of the uncertainty and self-doubt that you might find in any contemporary novel. Although Stephan is invisible to everyone else, he is seen by Elizabeth, so in that respect, there is a sort of internal normalcy to their interactions. This is something at which Stephan appreciates more than the average teen would, I think. I found that 2nd level of the story to be very interesting. It was like a contemporary island in a sea of paranormal elements.
I think it’s fair to say that the language of a contemporary paired with the structure and story of a paranormal has thrown some people. I admit that somewhere in the middle of the story, I was skeptical of how the whole thing would play out. However, at some point I started to appreciate the way that the two very different elements blended together and I ended up enjoying this book. It did have two very distinctive narrative voices, which I attribute to the two authors. If you have read books by David Levithan and Andrea Cremer, you will definitely be able to tell who wrote what. It worked for me because Stephen and Elizabeth are two very different people with very different life experiences. It made sense to me that Stephen’s voice would be more contemplative because I think growing up in such an isolated way would make you more introspective. Elizabeth’s voice was a little more bitter and jaded, but not hopeless, which fit well with her experiences. I found Elizabeth’s brother to be a bit superfluous at times, although he was the reason they moved to New York, but his place in the story felt more like comic relief than a developed character. I wouldn’t say that it took away from my enjoyment of the story, though. Overall, I gave this a higher rating because I thought the central idea was very different and the blending of the two genres really worked for me. I genuinely liked both Stephen and Elizabeth and I appreciated an ending that was neither devastatingly sad nor totally happy which, despite a paranormal premise, seemed very relatable to me.