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.
When I was first told Andrea Cremer and David Levithan were writing a book together, I was like ‘oh, cool!’ Then I thought about and got a little confused. Ms. Cremer writes HUGE books with very deep, involved fantasy in long and ongoing sentences. Mr. Levithan writes books barely hitting 200 pages (usually) almost always contemporary with short, to-the-point sentences. How can all that be combined into a single book and that book not spontaneously combust?!
You might be wondering this too. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s a blend. A very unique hybrid that might be hit or miss for you. Stephen’s parts are very Levithan-esque while Elizabeth’s are very Cremer-esque. Now before you give me a flat, unamused look with a slow clap at my awesomely obvious statement, I need to say that that explains much of the book. The first half of the book has a pretty contemporary feel ala Mr. Levithan. Two kids who meet and find companionship in their respective isolated lives. Oh, and one just happens to be invisible by a curse. The second half gets pretty heavy on the paranormal parts ala Ms. Cremer. I’ve read some thoughts where people were surprised by the extensiveness of the paranormal elements. I’m sorry, but when the word ‘curse’ is dropped in the second paragraph on the first page, I’m not expecting something entirely realistic, yeah? So, if you can get over this book being half contemporary and half paranormal, then this is your book!
Let’s talk about some characters! I’ve only read one Andrea Cremer book (please, don’t throw all the stones!) and I found her protagonist to be fierce and feisty and really strong. Elizabeth is, unsurprisingly, no different. Now when it comes to David Levithan’s books I’ve read A LOT. This is my 7th, infact, including both solo works and co-writes. There is a certain archetypal character Mr. Levithan is so amazing at creating and Stephen certainly fits in that construct. A quiet observer of the world whose self-confidence needs a serious boost, but has a core of undeniable strength. And his invisible state? Heartbreaking. I’m currently obsessed with the Rise of the Guardians film (FYI, I’m going to kinda ruin the movie for you by the end of this sentence) and Jack Frost goes unseen by the world, only to *finally* be seen by one little boy and to say he’s overjoyed would be an understatement. Such a heart-wrenching moment and I felt the same pain for poor Stephen. And I can’t not mention Laurie. Oh my gods. I completely loved him and I want for him and Stephen to be BFFs forever and ever because all of their scenes were just perfection. God help me, I do love a spunky sidekick. Make him gay and that’s it, I’m done for.
Overall, I really liked this book and would recommend it if only for the uniqueness in concept and execution. And of course, if you are a fan of either Ms. Cremer or Mr. Levithan’s work, then absolutely!
Similar recommendations: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers.