Things Not Seen

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Things Not Seen Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Invisibility isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 97 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

An excellent story that shows the importance of being "seen".

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though his parents are all-too-eager to hide the truth about what happened to him from the world, Bobby bravely stands his ground and demands to be "seen." He proves himself a positive role model with real guts.


Whenever Bobby goes out he must take off his clothes to keep from being seen.


The mother is described as swearing, initials but no actual words are written.


Several products and stores mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A minor character is described as having taken drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although the 15-year-old protagonist's overnight invisibility seems wildly implausible, there are many positive messages young readers can glean from his experiences.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 16-year-old Written byhsnowman September 29, 2009

Great for all readers over about age 8. At 52, I loved it!

Some folks, seeing as we are all still strapped with the Puritanical Outlook, think that the "invisible nudity" in this story is a bit mature, shall w... Continue reading
Adult Written bymateo immer December 4, 2011

Things not seen is a perfect book.

it's a very good book about a kid that turns invisible one night and he finds a friend called alicia , they figure out the problem together and alicia is b... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysofidomi06 June 28, 2019

A unique view on invisibility!

This was a great book. I like it because it puts almost believable science into the explanation of being invisible. The main character, Bobby, turns invisible (... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 17, 2019
It's an interesting story. There is some nudity, but when given context, it makes sense. There's some sciency stuff which is fun to figure out with th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Bobby is frustrated by his parents, like most teens, and feels invisible in school. But when he wakes up one morning he discovers he really is invisible. Unlike most kids in books, the first thing Bobby does is tell his parents, and he quickly discovers being invisible isn't as much fun as you might think. Bobby becomes a prisoner in his own house -- in midwinter Chicago going around without clothes isn't too much fun, and clothes walking around without a person inside them draws unwanted attention.

Things get even more difficult when his parents are in a car accident and hospitalized for several days, leaving Bobby on his own. But in this day and age a boy can't just disappear without first his school and then Child Protection and the police getting involved, suspecting that he has been the victim of foul play. So Bobby must find a way to become visible again before his parents are arrested.

Is it any good?

Fans who have graduated from Andrew Clements' earlier books will find he hasn't lost his talent for a gripping story. And lest anyone accuse him of falling into a rut with his middle-grade school stories, Clements (author of Frindle, among others) has written a YA novel with a science-fiction twist that has little to do with school. Clements pursues his premise logically. What would the real-life consequences be in this unreal situation?

Unlike other invisibility stories, Bobby neither enjoys his predicament, nor does he use it for any questionable purposes. He just wants his life, such as it was, back. This doesn't have the joyous, grinning-all-the-way-through, everything-happens-as-it-should feeling of his middle-grade books, but it's engaging and offers a satisfying ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Bobby's invisibility, which at first glance seems like it would be a great thing, turns out to be a real problem.

  • How would you deal with being invisible?

  • What kinds of things would you do if you knew nobody could see you?

  • Have you ever felt "invisible," figuratively speaking? If so, why? And what did you do about it?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi and school

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