Saturday, 28 June 2014

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick **Review**

She is Not Invisible
Series: None
Pages: 354
Publisher: Indigo
Release date: 3rd October 2013
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown. He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.

I have to admit that the very first thing that drew me to this book is the cover. What I'd come to expect from Marcus's books was a black cover, probably featuring quite a dark, gothic image, and a pretty creepy-sounding plot. She is Not Invisible is none of those things.
I wasn't sure quite what to expect from it, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I read it.

This is the story of Laureth Peak, daughter of the famous writer Jack Peak (Oh, I like his older books. You know, the funny ones?). Although Laureth is blind, she is in charge of dealing with his fan mail. When an email arrives from someone in New York claiming to have her father's black notebook, when he's supposed to be in Switzerland, Laureth starts to worry that something is seriously wrong. Taking her seven year old brother, Benjamin, and his toy Raven, Stan, along with her, she sets off to New York to find her missing father.
This is obviously not an easy task for someone who is entirely blind, even with her brother there to help guide her – he is only seven, after all. They are constantly surrounded by the dangers of a strange city, but somehow they still manage to navigate it and begin to work out what might have happened to their father.

I loved so many things about this story. First, I obviously have to mention Laureth. What an amazing character! She doesn't let being blind stop her from doing the things she feels she needs to do, despite the obvious dangers involved. She is strong and much more confident than I think she believes herself to be (she thinks it's a front, but I think she must have some level of confidence in herself to be able to put up a front in the first place), and she is incredibly determined, carrying on even when things seem impossible.
I really believed in her character, so much so that I could almost imagine what the world is like to her. Obviously, for someone with sight, it's not possible to entirely understand what being blind is like, but I think Marcus has done an incredible job of showing the world through Laureth in a way that is believable, emotive and incredibly vibrant. Where one sense is absent, the others help to build a picture of the world around her that others often miss. I really loved being able to experience the world in this way.

There were other characters in the book that I feel are definitely worth a mention. Benjamin was fantastic – very street smart and intelligent for a seven year old, incredibly loyal and loving towards Laureth, and so, so adorable. I fell in love with him straight away – if I could, I'd have wrapped him up in my arms and given him one almighty cuddle!
There are other characters that, although they play a much smaller role, still gave something to the story. Michael, the character who finds Laureth's father's notebook, was quirky and interesting, and I really enjoyed getting to know a little about him. The boy that Laureth meets on the plane, however briefly, is also interesting – although I was hoping to see more of him than we did. I thought there was going to be a bigger storyline there than there was.
And, of course, we have Jack Peak, Laureth and Benjamin's father, who although physically absent for the majority of the novel, his words remain with us throughout and we get to know him through Laureth's memories and his scribblings in his notebook.

The story was a really compelling one, and although the writings about the theory behind coincidences didn't entirely make sense (though I'm not sure they would to many... maybe I'm just being hopeful), I really enjoyed it.
I also thought that the extra little touch at the very end of the book was wonderful – very creative and touching. I've never seen anything quite like that being done before, and I had a lot of fun putting it together. You'll have to read it to find out what I mean!

She is Not Invisible is a really beautiful and inspiring story that had me gripped from page 1 to page 354 (yes, that is relevant). Wonderfully written, very creative and highly emotive, this is not a book to be missed.


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