Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Invisibility Book Poster Image
Mix of brutality and tenderness makes fantasy seem real.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about the ways that discrimination and bullying can affect families. The novel also gives a general impression of city/apartment life and the geographical layout and landmarks of New York City.

Positive Messages

No one could say that "love conquers all" in this novel, but it definitely makes a big difference: Love and family are saving graces when life gets tough. Also, what equals love and what equals family have nothing to do with what the world "sees" -- and everything to do with the connections we feel.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Stephen's strongest role model has been his mother, who loved him all his life despite extreme challenges. Stephen has always known his mother to be brave and generous, but as a teenager he learns just how courageous she had to be to live an independent life apart from her evil father.


Invisibility is often violent and disturbing. Supernatural curses cause powerless people to self-inflict pain and injury: A man sets fire to himself, a woman tries to claw her own face off, and a man pushes himself back and forth through broken glass. There's also the stabbing murder of a one-eyed man. And a teen girl bleeds profusely when she tries to stop a curse from hurting her loved ones. Before the book plot begins, a male teen was brutally beaten by bullies and had to be hospitalized with broken bones and other injuries.


A teen couple kisses and touches each other, but nothing sexual is described graphically-- it's all mentioned afterward. In fact, the male character says that he and his girlfriend do not "have sex" because they need to know each other more deeply first. But the girl and her teen brother joke about "going to third base" or "mating."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Invisibility is a fantastical story about the special relationship between an invisible teen boy, Stephen, and Elizabeth, the only person who can see him. Also important in the novel is Elizabeth's brother, Laurie, who was bullied and brutally beaten due to his sexual orientation. The plot involves supernatural curses and a fantastical struggle between good and evil, but underlying all that is a lot of tenderness between young people who crave love and a sense of belonging. Young readers may be disturbed by the cruelty toward Laurie (which happens before the book plot starts) and by the evil and violence (including self-inflicted wounds, fire, murder, and some blood) that pervades the latter third of the book.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byReadfreak November 16, 2013

Great book, great adventure

I'm 13, and I thought that this was really great book. It's one of the ones where once you pick it up, you can't put it down until you finish it... Continue reading

What's the story?

Stephen has been literally invisible all his life, but he doesn't know why. When he meets a new neighbor, Elizabeth, and realizes that she can see him, not only does he connect with her in ways he never thought possible, but he also questions more than ever what made him invisible and whether there isn't some way for him to live a normal life. However, as Stephen, Elizabeth, and her brother, Laurie, dig into the source of Stephen's predicament, the teenagers reveal a source of evil that's far more threatening and terrifying than being unseen.

Is it any good?

Invisibility deftly combines David Levithan's brilliant facility at developing tender characters on the edges with Andrea Cremer's thrilling, fantastic worlds written around teens with a mission. The story that results isn't just intensely suspenseful and inventive, but also very emotional and realistic. The plot is rendered all the more exciting by the fact the characters are so caring -- and so wounded.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that Invisibility includes both fantastical elements and intensely realistic ones. Do you think the combination of approaches make the book seem more believable -- or less?

  • How has Stephen's personality been affected by being invisible? How does he change after he meets Elizabeth?

  • Invisibility explores the fantasy of being literally invisible, like Stephen, and the pain of being someone whom cruel people don't want to see, like Laurie. Read the classic books that also address these ideas: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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