Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clement (Puffin, 2004)

When Bobby Phillips, average fifteen-year-old boy, wakes up one morning to discover he’s become invisible, his life is thrown into turmoil. Unable to interact with the outside world, and forced to contend with parents more apt to treat his condition as an intellectual and scientific curiosity than an actual problem, he quickly goes stir-crazy cooped up at home. The few neat benefits of perpetual invisibility are quickly overshadowed by the inconveniences, not the least of which is the constant fear of discovery. A risky trip to the library, and a chance encounter with a fellow patron, offers Bobby some respite from the loneliness: his new friend, Alicia, is blind. Perfect, right? He can’t be seen, and she can’t see him. The two become friends fairly quickly, despite their initial personality clashes, and the introduction of Alicia and her family into the social dynamic may help Bobby find a cure for his problem. Unfortunately, his continued absence from school is drawing questions and attention from the authorities, and all too soon, they’re working under a deadline. If they can’t restore Bobby’s visibility soon, there’ll be some real trouble.

This is a clever, fast-paced story, with a plausible setup backed by believable pseudoscience. While the underlying question remains “How did Bobby become invisible?” the real story is all about his growing friendship with Alicia, and the exploration of what invisibility might mean in a real-world setting. I really enjoyed watching the two of them interact and get to know one another, and I had to keep reading to find out how it all turned out for both Bobby and Alicia. Clement really spins a fun tale here, and I hope we’ll see more stories of a fantastical nature from him in the future.

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