Things Not Seen
I remember reading this book quite some time ago, back when it first came out around the year 2000. My school's book club had read his other books, which I adored and still continue to list as some of my favorite books, so I thought I should go ahead and read this one as well. If you're an Andrew Clements fan and the only other books you've read by him are his typical "school stories", you're in for a surprise, and it's up to the individual reader to determine whether the surprise is a good one or not. I was personally underwhelmed by this book and series overall. While the premise of a young boy who suddenly goes invisible is an intriguing one, the storyline flops around all over the place, even more so with the next two books, but in this one as well, between the supernatural and well, natural. I wish Clements had picked one or the other, instead of trying to make spontaneous human invisibility explainable by basic elements of physics. A lot about the stories is steeped in convenience--in this particular book, the fact that both of the main character's parents are well-versed scholars. I would have enjoyed a deeper exploration of Bobby's inner reflections, rather than falsified scientific jargon. Both the science and the emotions of the book fell flat, moved along slowly, and seemed chaotically disorganized. Where there could have been a meaningful discussion on what it means to be human, instead we got an awkward paranormal attempt at a feel-good book.
Things Hoped For
While I found it interesting to see Bobby/Robert from the eyes of a different character, those eyes were incredibly boring ones. Gwen was a flat character in a flat book serving as filler. The sole purpose of this book seems to have been the introduction of William. If the series continues, it'd be good to see Gwen again and have some growth for her character, but as the series stands so far, she seems pointless. This whole book seems pointless. Bobby and Alicia's story could have moved along with the first and third books alone. The very existence of this book makes no sense. I don't have much else to say--boring book, boring characters, the reappearances of Bobby and Alicia were the only reasons I kept reading.
Things That Are
I was expecting to see some kind of grand finale for the third book, following the typical pattern of a strong start, dull but necessary middle, and a strong finish. This book was not strong, nor was it a finish, apparently. I'm not entirely sure on the status of a 4th book's existence, but this book left so many things open-ended that another book seems necessary, or this whole series just makes no sense. Some of the things really seemed contrived--like Alicia's dog and sudden status as not-really-Bobby's-girlfriend, which seemed to contradict with the previously set canon. The large scale impact of the invisibility still hadn't been dealt with, and Bobby and Alicia's story still felt like it needed more resolution. All this talk of the FBI and what would happen if they knew--now that would make for an incredible story, or even just an exploration of Bobby and Alicia's relationship, or both! Instead, neither aspect is focused on all that much, instead relying on centering the story around an invisible William. I did like the theme carried out throughout the book, the idea of "things that are", but like the previous two novels, it seemed lacking, and Clements is capable of doing so much better. I'm going to be sticking with his one-shot classroom stories.