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Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak - Review

Monday, April 15, 2019

Where did I get it? My friend Janet lent it to me before Christmas and it's been on my 'read soon' list ever since. 

What's it about? Aidan Lockwood is a senior in high school in Temperance, Ohio, which is a very small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. A couple of weeks into his senior year, Aidan's old friend Jarrod turns up. Aidan doesn't remember him, but Jarrod takes him to a lake and shows Aidan a memory of the two of them. Slowly, it becomes obvious that Aidan's mum has stopped him from remembering things about his past and about the family's past and about Aidan's own psychic powers. 

Aidan sees two harbingers of death; a man in a black suit, and a white stag. He is pulling at the threads of the family history, despite the fact that his mother is trying to keep him out of it, and eventually knows what he has to do to save them.

Meanwhile, Aidan and Jarrod find themselves falling in love. Jarrod has been thrown out of his dad's house because he's gay, and that's why he's back in Temperance living with his mother. I felt a bit two ways about their relationship. On the one hand, I really liked that Aidan didn't spend any time angsting over the fact he was falling in love with a boy, he just let it happen. On the other, I felt like there wasn't enough emphasis on their relationship and I wished we'd seen more of it. 

What age range is it for? 13+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yeah. Jarrod is gay, and Aidan starts a relationship with him, although he never labels himself. 

Are any main characters people of colour? No 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, some of it is quite graphic, and there's child death too. 

Are there swear words? No I don't think so. 

What criticisms do I have? I just felt like the book as a whole didn't go far enough in any one direction for me. It was a bit confusing in parts. I didn't understand why Aidan's mother kept so many secrets from everyone. Once Aidan realised some of what happened, she should have really just told him the truth. It was purely a plot point that she didn't. 

Also, as I said, I would have liked to see more of Aidan and Jarrod together. 

Would I recommend the book? Kind of? I liked the magical, rural, claustrophobic setting. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I need to send it back to Janet!

What other books is it like? It really reminded me of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. Only not as good. 

How many stars? Three out of five. 

Where is the book going now? Back to Janet!

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