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Wonders of the Invisible World

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The captivating Stonewall Honor-winning novel of love, family, and ghosts of the past

Aidan Lockwood lives in a sleepy farming town, day after unremarkable day. But when Jarrod, his former best friend, suddenly moves back home, Aidan begins to see clearly for the first time—not only to feelings that go beyond mere friendship, but to a world that is haunted by the stories of his past. Visions from this invisible world come to him unbidden: a great-grandfather on the field of battle; his own father, stumbling upon an unspeakable tragedy; and a mysterious young boy, whose whispered words may be at the heart of the curse that holds Aidan’s family in its grip.

Now, Aidan must find his way between the past and the present to protect those he loves, and to keep the invisible world at bay.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2015

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About the author

Christopher Barzak

62 books420 followers
Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which was made into the Sundance feature film, Jamie Marks is Dead. His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula and Tiptree Awards. His third novel, Wonders of the Invisible World, is a Stonewall Honor Book. He is also the author of Before and Afterlives, which won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Collection. His most current novel is, The Gone Away Place. He grew up in rural Ohio, has lived in a southern California beach town, the capital of Michigan, and has taught English outside of Tokyo, Japan. Currently he teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 414 reviews
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
587 reviews1,785 followers
September 9, 2021
rep: gay mc & li


(dobry is not a name in polish. there's dobromir, dobromysł, dobrosław, dobrogost, dobrowit & a few others but not dobry)
Profile Image for AMEERA.
277 reviews312 followers
June 5, 2016
first page to last page this book was just interesting and weird I don't remember if I read book like it before and definitely I wanna read more like it
Profile Image for fatma.
899 reviews560 followers
March 1, 2018
well, that was incredibly underwhelming

I hesitate to say that I enjoyed this at all, to be honest. Barely anything from this novel stood out to me. The characters either had no personality—I legit can't remember a single thing about Aidan—or one single trait that defined their entire personality—Aidan's mom is the I-Need-To-Keep-Secrets-From-You-To-Protect-You character and Jarrod is the Aidan-Is-The-Air-I-Breathe character. Secondly, the magical realism storyline was just painful to read. All the talk of We Are the Only Ones that Get to Tell Our Stories was so cliche and didn't at all have the effect that I think Barzak intended it to have. I may or may not have rolled my eyes on several occasions reading about it.

I was really looking forward to reading this, but sadly it was a huge disappointment. I skim-read most of it, and at this point I'm just glad it's over.
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
682 reviews244 followers
May 25, 2020
Wonders of the Invisible World has received countless comparisons to my favourite series, The Raven Cycle, and rightfully so! This magical book follows a boy named Aidan who begins seeing ghosts and visions of his family’s cursed past when his childhood friend moves back into town after five years of radio silence.

“One day Death will pay you a visit, my mother had said, but if you can tell the story of your life before Death tells its version--if you can tell it true--you can maybe keep on living”

I was enraptured with this novel immediately; the strangeness to the world paired with the voice of Aiden’s character made for an incredibly rich story.
There was a certain vagueness to the mechanics of Aidan’s psychic abilities that I feel coincidentally added to the atmosphere of this novel. The unknowingness of it all only drew me in more; it was lovely to discover the past during the same instances that Aiden himself did.

I enjoyed Aiden’s character exploration a bit more than the actual magic/plot itself. I found the romance to be really well balanced with the other aspects of this story; nothing was overshadowed or diminished by Aiden’s relationship. His self discovery was really great to see alongside the magical elements.

Christopher Barzak has a really nice writing style. It was both simplistic and lyrical, which made for a generally light-feeling narrative and atmosphere. If you’re interested in magical realism, and love a good mystery or romance, this is a great book to try out!
Profile Image for aileen | ✾.
324 reviews201 followers
December 25, 2019
Wonders of the Invisible World is by far one of the best books I’ve read in 2019. We've got a psychic teenager, a family curse and the sweetest of love stories. What more could a girl want?
Profile Image for Kim.
272 reviews240 followers
March 12, 2016
I seem to have an affinity for those books which are magical and strange and not entirely definable. Sitting down to the write this review, it occurs to me how difficult it is to describe this book. I can tell you what it’s about, but to describe the experience of reading it almost makes me feel like I’ve had a spell cast on me myself. There is a palpable sense of unreality throughout as Aidan journeys to unravel the mysteries of himself and his family.

Aidan can’t remember entire swaths of his life and he doesn’t even realize it. He drifts along as in a fog, feeling barely there at all. Until the day an old friend comes back into his life and lost memories begin to shake themselves loose from their bindings. But who bound Aidan’s memories, and why?

On the surface this book is about a teenage boy navigating the typical contemporary issues of identity and self. It’s about that below the surface, too. It takes place in the “real world,” but is also part paranormal, part fairytale. The “invisible world” of the title is always lurking at the edges of Aidan’s consciousness, lying in wait to draw him in. “Wonder” is also in the title and is appropriate as the novel is imbued with it. The writing is gorgeous. Even in the midst of a very ordinary contemporary scene, it’s impossible to forget the magic woven into the fabric of the story.

Find the rest of my review at The Midnight Garden.
Profile Image for oliver .
232 reviews10 followers
March 8, 2019
"Here’s the thing: we’re all as thin as paper."

i loved this book way too muchhhhh, weird magic and soft gays??? old curses and complicated families??? BIG yes.

Wonders of the Invisible World is a really mysterious book about a "common" teenager who discovers he's into... very creepy shit. it's the kind of book that you start understanding at the end and it totally blows your mind.

It reminded me a little of Release by Patrick Ness and The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater??? so if you like either of those, you'll totally love this one.
Profile Image for Ben Howard.
919 reviews99 followers
March 2, 2020
If you enjoyed The Raven Cycle, you might enjoy this. It has similar vibes with the magical realism, except if Ronan and Adam were the main characters.

Although, Wonders of the Invisible World, is definitely its own think. When Aidan's old friend Jarrod comes back to town, things start to get weird for Aidan. He begins seeing people others can't, and it appears his memories are foggy. With the help of Jarrod, Aidan has to uncover the truth of what his mother has been hiding from him. As the two try to piece Aidan's memories of their past together, they build new ones and their friendship developes into a romantic relationship.

It's hard to explain this book, but just know that it's well worth the read. The audiobook narrator is Michael Crouch, who does a great job as usual.
Profile Image for Lelia Nebeker.
125 reviews23 followers
September 10, 2015
Aiden Lockwood is missing some memories. When his former best friend Jarrod moves back to town, he helps Aiden try to piece together their history and find out why he can’t remember his unique ability to “reach across” the veil of time and space. Aiden suddenly becomes immersed in a strange world of magic, secrets, curses, and harbingers of death—all part of his complicated family history. Christopher Barzak weaves together Aiden’s journey of self-discovery with historical flashbacks, all while maintaining the delicate balance of magical realism. This is mostly thanks to his otherworldly prose, which seeps, slithers, and tangles you up like ivy. 'Wonders of the Invisible World' is truly a wonder in itself.
Profile Image for Gillik.
112 reviews7 followers
August 4, 2017
There's a lot I don't understand about YA novels in general and this novel in particular. I don't understand why so many YA authors write in a bland, clumsy, overwritten first person. (" 'Are you serious?' I said. Jarrod pulled back and looked like I'd accused him of lying, which I guess was true in that I doubted what he was saying.") I don't understand how an editor could let such wordy stuff go: the answer to being invited to a party is, "I said yes without hesitating. 'Yes,' I said, nodding once..." so I think he actually said no but we just can't be sure.

And I don't understand how a book with such interesting themes going for it - an ancient curse, magical mind-wiping, gay romance - could be so incredibly boring. A lot of this is the fault of that lousy first-person, but not all. The similes and metaphors used make me think this book is meant for middle schoolers - a groaner of a line about "[putting] Humpty Dumpty back together again - but everyone knows the end of that story. It doesn't really work out," comes to mind.

But mostly the problem is with the main character, Aidan. He spends the first chunk of the book drifting in his own life, isolated and with his childhood memories mysteriously vague...fine. All good. But even after the love interest pops back into his life and the memories begin trickling back, Aiden never actually gets out of his grey cloud. He reacts to his childhood friend expressing romantic interest - several times and in increasingly obvious ways - by not reacting, by putting it out of his mind entirely (until for plot purposes he suddenly remembers he ought to think about that a bit). Similarly, when he learns of a family member's deep betrayal - a betrayal that cuts to the core of him, that's honestly as invasive as being physically assaulted - Aiden sulks and slams some doors and generally acts like a grounded teenager, not a teenager rocked by world-altering revelations. It's one thing to get into a fight with your parents. It's another to realize you have the magical ability to jump time and change peoples' memories, and somebody's been rummaging around in yours. You'd think there'd be slightly more surprise.

(There's plenty of "surprise," as in, Aiden keeps telling us how surprised he is, or upset, or scared: "I struggled with how close we were, with how I was almost pressed up against the window with only an inch or two between us. But I managed to overcome my fears and tell him what I had to." Because this is YA first person in which every thought is spelled out for the reader. But there's very little...reaction? Excitement? Aiden's family is targeted by an otherworldly death-blizzard with tragic results and he continues to sound like a kid getting his car keys taken away?)

There is so much more that could have been done with this plot; I can think of multiple YA-geared fantasy novels with worlds as deep and clever as anything on the adult lit shelves. But this one settles for a G*psy I'm sorry I mean Slavic curse cum Romeo-and-Juliet thing that's never really explained. We know that the mystics' village is made up largely of fakes, because fortune-telling in the real world is fake, only now some of it's not fake, and Aiden just happens to be part of the not-fake, which is fine, but then how much of it is not-fake? The novel throws some magic into the real world but doesn't bother to explain how the world is affected; are there secret, world-wide magical societies a la Harry Potter, besides this one village in upstate New York, or are Slavic people just born ~magickal~?

The dialogue suffers from typical YA no-one-actually-talks-like-this syndrome, mixed with way too much small talk. There's too much detail during the parts where nothing happens, and then the end is rushed, with basically all the explanations hitting us in paragraphs upon paragraphs of exposition on a convenient tree stump. Epiphanies come at the exact right times, of course, usually in dream form, and that's good because Aiden would never get anything figured out if it wasn't literally explained to him in small words inside his dreams. None of the players are really fleshed out; even setting Aiden aside, his mother's entire character is Has Secret Powers, Uses Them Badly, and his older brother should've been cut out. Love Interest Jarrod is probably the most interesting (manipulating his father's homophobia so that he benefits, knowing Aiden's secret before Aiden does - I kept wanting him to turn out to be evil, actually). I'd read more about Jarrod, and he doesn't even have any magickal Slav powers.

And, finally, the ending is so ~perfectly timed~. Why do so many YA writers fear unhappy or even bittersweet endings?

Disappointing. YA can do better.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,374 reviews206 followers
October 4, 2018

3.5 Stars

I liked Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak. Seventeen year old Aidan Lockwood tells his story. A story of magic, romance, ghosts, curses, and love. But there just wasn’t enough magic to make it feel magical and not enough romance to make me swoon. Liked it all—just didn’t love it. I know that’s a lame line (Right up there with “It’s not you, it’s me”.), but that’s the bare bones truth of it.

The family part of the story fell flat for me. Aidan’s Mom kept repeating the same it’s-for-your-own-protection lines and the Dad and brother never came to life. I just never felt the weight of the curse and history. Aidan and Jarrod were super cute together though. Hand holding, knee bumps, support, and more. They reminded me that sometimes all it takes is one person. One person who really sees us in this world to help us find our way and story in life.

A good book about telling and living your story the best way you can.

Check it out from your local library.

Profile Image for Lauren .
1,713 reviews2,307 followers
December 8, 2017
Family history, magic, coming of age, with romance and adventure mixed in for good measure. Great storytelling by Barzak! I enjoyed his style, both here and in the novella, The Language of Moths.

Read for Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge "A young adult or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+"
Profile Image for Elena May.
7 reviews
December 23, 2015
I finished this book in a day. I'd just bought it the day before. That's how good this was. Read it. Read the review, whatever, but read the book.

Not giving too much away, but the book focuses heavily on the themes of familial relationships, ancestral lines and the unseen side of things. What I liked was that it didn't focus too heavily on all three - Barzak managed to balance all these things for the most part, and I felt like what I was reading was a supernatural semi-tragic family drama playing out with some romantic subtext.

Barzak has a wonderful writing style. It's not too transparent, but it's transparent enough that you can tell what's going on and envision it properly in your head. It's not laid down with heavy prose or anything, but there's a certain beauty to the writing. No overly heavy use of metaphorical stuff either, but just enough.

On to the characters. Aidan Lockwood, the main character, for instance, initially seemed like a very ordinary teenager. Which he is, by the way. That's exactly how he describes himself. But then Jarrod returns to his life, and he just, well, grows. His character development was wonderful, and slowly played. His anger, too, his emotions, they all just sort of grew along with him. Like he was described in the beginning, he was initially just paper thin, and at the end of the book he was this complete person, whole and complex and far more assured of himself. Sure, he made mistakes, but who doesn't? Aidan was a great protagonist.

One thing I absolutely adored was the complex relationship he had with his mother. His mother, too, isn't paper thin - she's an actual woman, alright, someone who loves her family to bits but, nonetheless, I could relate to her situation, and sure, I didn't like her, but her actions at the end totally redeemed her for me. I did not like her, several times throughout the book, and I just felt like Aidan didn't need her, but then underneath all that she was this protective mom who just really loved her family.

Even though the Aidan's father wasn't featured too heavily, and neither was his brother, they felt like believable family side characters, and you could tell how close they were as a family. They weren't creepy close, but they all had this real familial tie to each other. Look, even Aunt Carolyn who appeared for a really brief period of time seemed real enough to me. I just loved everyone. I'm not kidding. There are reasons for the things they do, and those are believable reasons. Even if Aidan describes everyone like thin pieces of paper, they totally aren't. And he realises this eventually.

Jarrod Doyle. He's the catalyst that starts off the entire story, and he and his mum show a totally different dynamic from Aidan and Aidan's mum, considering the fact that she mostly had minimal involvement in his life, but Jarrod so obviously cares for her anyway. Jarrod and Aidan's relationship grew too, along the course of the story, and it didn't feel rushed or hurried. It felt real.

Really, I could go on forever about this, but seriously, there was very little I disliked about the book. The only two things were that the beginning was a little slow, perhaps, but once Aidan and Jarrod start discovering things you're set on a rollercoaster ride downhill. Things reveal themselves eventually. They don't stall for so long that you get bored.

The second is that since ancestral ties figure so prominently in the book, if I remember correctly there was this really long section concerning them, but they were all sort of cramped into one phase. I'd have preferred them spaced out, so I wasn't away from reading about the present time for too long - it was kind of like a huge information dump in that section. Also, that section gets pretty confusing with names. Lockwood who? I got kind of confused with the writing in that section, but the plot pulls everything together properly.

Finally, the plot. Pacing was great, characters were great. Build up was fantastic. So many secrets, so little time, but everything was neatly resolved. I just wanted to know why at every single point in the story. Sure, I had questions, they got answered, then I had more questions. So I read even more, hoping to get to the bottom of all this. If there were plot holes I was too absorbed in the story to notice. I loved the entire concept, especially the fact that death comes in different forms depending on your bloodline. I wonder what form my agent of death will come in?

I'm still recovering from the ending. Everything got together in a really emotional way, and I'm still recovering from the wonder that is Aidan and his mum's relationship. There's so much love, but so much hurt, and so many things are hidden. They'll be revealed in time, but for you to find out what those secrets are, you're going to have to read the book to find out.

Read it. You won't regret it. I'd recommend this to everyone, unless you have a problem with LGBTQ+ relationships, in which case you should sort yourself out first. Then read this book.
Profile Image for Flo.
111 reviews
June 19, 2022
Simply excellent. A beautiful book, beautifully written, beautifully imaginative, and with a beautiful romance woven throughout.

When seventeen-year-old Aidan Lockwood meets a forgotten childhood friend again and begins to fall in love with him, a world full of magic, grief, and potential begins to open up. While I adored Aidan's romance with Jarod, I also appreciated how it didn't take the story over completely. It was what got the ball rolling and often what kept it rolling; Jarod's love for Aidan was a constant rather than something that needed to be achieved, and thus its presence in the story could be both strong and subtle at the same time.

Instead of romance, the main theme of the story is thus Aidan's self-discovery, which happens as he begins to understand his family and their history better. In that way, the primary relationship in this story is not that between Aidan and Jarod, but between Aidan and his mother Sophia. Their conflict is a classic one, a mother believing she knows what's best and a teenager wanting to go his own way. But as their generational struggle is tinged with the supernatural, the stakes are raised, and soon everyone's lives are in danger.

The magic of this story is folksy and, for lack of a better word, comfortable - uncomplicated and melding smoothly into people's everyday lives. It feels almost more appropriate to call this magical realism rather than fantasy, as the story foregrounds human relationships and country life rather than magical complexities. Nonetheless, the way magic manifested throughout the story was evocative and aided by the book's spellbinding style.

All in all, this book is going to remain a favourite for me for a long, long time.
Profile Image for Divine.
333 reviews168 followers
May 17, 2020
The Raven Boys meets The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Just imagine Adam and Ronan as a legit couple and mix that with a lot of family curses and psychic references. I've listened to the audiobook all throughout and I honestly just want to marry Michael Crouch, even if its just his voice. HAHAHAH. I think I'm going to listen to more audiobooks he voiced. Anyway, full RTC when I get my sht sorted out at school :(
January 28, 2021
I really enjoyed the beautiful writing in this book! I loved the fantasy element at the beginning, the imagery reminded me of Murakami and Max Porter's writing. However, as the book went on, they lost their uniqueness for me. It was not symbolic or original anymore and the philosophy behind it felt a bit forced.

My most favourite parts were the "crossings" to the past and how the stories intertwined. The only thing I would say is that if you are looking for a book to read solely for the queer romance, this is not the book. The romance is there but it is not the main focus of the story.
Profile Image for Saz.
256 reviews22 followers
November 19, 2015
A unique premise but ultimately just a flat, boring read. Wasn't that much to latch on to emotionally, hard to really connect to the characters or care about them at all. The romance was somewhat engaging at first, but that ended up falling pretty flat as well. It felt like there was no real conflict or tension or excitement at all and everything was just blah.
Profile Image for Andrea .
285 reviews38 followers
January 24, 2018
He de admitir que este es un libro que me ha sorprendido gratamente. Me lo descargué sin saber de qué iba. Simplemente vi la portada y me quedé intrigada.

Este libro cuenta la historia de un chico de unos diecisiete años que no es del todo común. Sé que suena a la típica novela juvenil pero tiene algo especial. El protagonista descubre que hay algo que no cuadra en su propia casa porque su mejor amigo de la infancia regresa al pueblo y él no lo recuerda demasiado bien. A partir de su primer encuentro, empezamos a ver cómo recuperan su amistad y cómo aparecen nuevos sentimientos. La trama del romance no es la más importante. Eso me ha gustado. La historia se centra más en todo lo que el protagonista va descubriendo sobre su familia y sus propias abilidades.

Creo que una de las razones principales por las que me ha gustado es que no es muy común ver realismo mágico bien hecho en literatura juvenil. En este caso, está bien llevado y se va mostrando paulatinamente. Al principio, tiene la capacidad de parecer la típica historia juvenil en la que el protagonista ha sufrido algún tipo de accidente y no es capaz de recordar ciertas cosas de su pasado. Sin embargo, se va convirtiendo en otra cosa.

El romance puede percibirse como muy rápido. Eso es verdad. La cuestión es que parece que avance con más rapidez porque la intervención del interés romántico es lo que hace que el protagonista empiece a cuestionarse todas las cosas. Hay varias escenas en las que se crea un ambiente muy interesante. A mí me atraen particularmente las historias de romance en que hay confianza. Especialmente, cuando esa confianza se demuestra a través de la historia y no se menciona y ya está.

Las relaciones familiares son definitivamente las más importantes aquí. La relación entre el protagonista y su madre es muy importante. Está bastante desarrollada y vemos cómo cambia. La percepción que tiene el protagonista de su propia madre hace que el lector se cuestione bastantes cosas acerca de ella y de su relevancia en la trama. Hubiera estado bien que se desarrollara un poco más la relación del protagonista con su hermano y su padre, pero me conformo con que un protagonista de una novela juvenil tenga familia y sepamos algo de ella.

Creo que hice bien en adentrarme en esta historia sin saber mucho de lo que iba a pasar. Eso la hace mucho más interesante y atrayente. Me parece que sabiendo que es realismo mágico es suficiente para empezar a leer.
Profile Image for Tori Thompson.
196 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2015
Aiden feels stuck in a dream, like he's just existing in his life but never really living it. Then his childhood best friend moves back after years away, trying to remind him of the bizarre, supernatural occurences that defined their relationship in more ways than one--and that he has no memory of. In search of his lost past, Aiden and Jarrod discover an exceptional ability, a devastating curse, an enduring love, and the true power of a good story.

When I first picked up the ARC of this, I wasn't particularly interested. White boy high school drama? Not really my jam. I tend to avoid both school dramas and books about boys, because I work in a bookstore and can have my pick of a hundred exciting books in a plethora of genres, about women and people of color that absolutely deserve my attention, so why would I bother? But the author is local, so I thought that I would try to read it for that...and I am SO glad that I did! It took me about a week to get through the first hundred pages...and about a day to get through the rest. Good heavens, this book.

What starts out like something I would rather eat than read completely explodes into the supernatural gay romance of my dreams.

Listen, if you're looking for a book that's gonna take you by surprise, drag you in, and never let you go...you've just found it.
Profile Image for Andreas.
233 reviews105 followers
April 18, 2020
This has to be the blandest, most boring queer romance I have ever read. A couple of pebbles would have had more chemistry than these two characters. Other than that, I suppose there is nothing particularly wrong with this book, I just didn’t vibe with it — for lack of a better word.
Profile Image for Kristel (hungryandhappy).
1,471 reviews76 followers
August 25, 2018
“Everything about us was entirely normal, really. We were as ordinary as anything we might come across in this world.”

As I thought from the blurb and from the first chapters, I really liked this book and how the story unfolded, circled back, flashed forward, backwards or whatever. It has that touch of magical realism, spells, curses, a world beyond the world, harbingers of death, mysteries, everything that I love. Peculiar and magical with a love story as sweet as honey, the perfect combo!

It was pretty weird and sometimes it could be hard to follow with all the dreams sequences and memories, but I found it fascinating, so I focused really hard and enjoyed the ride. Aidan is such a sweet boy, trying his best to remember what’s been forgotten, while experiencing feelings he thinks he is supposed to find wrong but instead come to him as easily as breathing and seeing the invisible world.

“Here they were, the people we were becoming, about to knock on our front door, hoping they could undo the mistakes we were making at that very moment.”

Jarrod is one hell of a supporting character; he supports Aidan in all his crazy life with such sincerity and love, just because he cares and wants to be with this sweet boy who sees what other people can’t. Aidan’s mother was a bit of a pain in the butt with all her evasiveness and half sentences, but Jarrod comes to the rescue every single time, and he stole, not only Aidan’s heart, but also mine.

I get sad when I see a low rating of a book I’ve loved, but I understand where they come from; this is the kind of book that you love or don’t understand its meaning or purpose. It’s weird and full of details many may find boring and unnecessary. But if you come to understand it, you’ll see how truly marvelous and magical this story is and you’ll love it. That’s what happened to me, and I hope it happens to many other readers who’ll decide to give this book a chance.
Profile Image for Sierra.
296 reviews20 followers
August 17, 2020
I didn't really read what this was about before I bought this, I just thought the name and the cover kinda seemed intriguing to me, so I ended up getting it.
But in the end I still ended up really really liking this book, and I loved Aidan and Jarrod too. They were really cute together, even more since it seemed that Jarrod would go to the end of the world to make sure that he never lost Aidan again like he did the first time.

Quotes :

1.) “Here's the thing: we're all as thin as paper. Like those paper people you used to find in old children's magazines, inhabiting a two-page spread with other paper people, all of them hanging out somewhere together-at the park, at church, at school, at the mall, on the family room-until some kid took a pair of scissors to the dotted lines surrounding them and cut them out of their paper world. That's us, that's anyone. That was me. A cut-out paper person removed from the world I once belonged to.”

2.) “Peace wasn’t what I found when I did finally fall into sleep, though. A strange dream came instead. It wasn’t one of mine, though, I could tell immediately. Maybe it belonged to someone in my family, or maybe to someone nearby. I had no idea. But wherever the dream came from, it swooped into my room on dark feathers, plucked me up like a baby, and carried me away to another world, where the peace of sleep did not exist.”

3.) “We spent the night smiling politely at each other through this glass barrier that felt like it had sprung up right behind my eyes. Like I was trapped inside myself, and the me who danced awkwardly with her on the floor was this stand-in, making dumb jokes while I beat against the glass wall, beat against it with my fists and then my head...”
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for alice.
161 reviews15 followers
October 8, 2022
I just wasn’t a fan of the writing style or the story
Profile Image for Aoife.
34 reviews
December 26, 2018
THIS BOOK..................!!!!!!!!! i want to keep it and hold it close to my heart forever
Profile Image for Zaquery Booth.
73 reviews
March 1, 2020
I liked the blend of cultures. I wish Aidan and Jarrod had been able to be more out, but under the circumstances I think I can deal with it. Major weirdness has a way of doing that.
Profile Image for Jess.
277 reviews
December 28, 2017
Ohhhhh nooooooooooo. I’m really REALLY bummed that I didn’t like this. It’s gotten several great reviews and the synopsis sounded fantastic. I was so convinced I’d enjoy it that I actually bought it when I saw it at the bookstore, which I very rarely do.

The premise of the novel was its strongest aspect for me. On paper, conceptually, everything is VERY GREAT. A novel featuring LGBT teens, haunting visions of dreamlike landscapes interrupting the mundanity of small town life, family secrets, and “the power of stories” as a thematic core? YES PLEASE.

But I have to echo the other less enthusiastic reviews and admit that the whole thing just fell completely flat for me in pretty much every way. I thought the narrative structure was shaky, the world building a bit muddled and unconvincing, and worst of all, the characters severely underdeveloped. None of these people felt real to me and I couldn’t connect to them emotionally at any point, which meant that their tragedies didn’t invoke anything in me, and the author’s attempt to raise the stakes didn’t work, because I didn’t care what happened to anyone. The romance had promise at first, but quickly deflated like a popped balloon, and was boring for the rest of the book.

The writing style itself was also just Not My Thing. There were times when the prose was successful at painting a scene or getting a mood across, but most of the time I found it relatively bland and uninspired, and oftentimes a bit too Young™ for me, like I was reading middle grade rather than YA:

”Then he was leaning down, kissing me harder than before, and I put my arms around him, kissing him harder too, like we were in this ridiculous kissing contest or something.”

"'Well, first of all,’ I said, 'it sounds kind of stalker-y, being followed by spirits or whatever. I’d rather not be so popular with the invisible population, to be honest.’”

I don’t want to say it’s bad because it’s totally a matter of personal preference! But it wasn’t my cup of tea. And this wasn’t really helped by the fact that the book had a major issue with telling instead of showing. I felt like I was constantly being told things about characters without seeing the evidence, or told how to feel when the emotions weren’t coming across, which made it so I was never fully immersed in the story.

So, [sighing] YEAH. I’m disappointed. Wish I could’ve seen the same magic others did, but all in all, this was a really lackluster read for me.
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778 reviews15 followers
December 29, 2015
What about this book doesn't have my name written all over it? A multigenerational family saga with curses and magic and myths and love and despair and death and dreams and storytelling? It's everything I want put into a blender and mixed into a delicious smoothie. Aidan Lockwood is an amazing YA male character, everything lovable and annoying about a teenage boy, portrayed so realistically and endearingly that on more than one occasion I pulled back and said "wow--this is how you write a character."

Aidan is great, the plot is well-paced, the romance is good (gooey but in a warm cookie way, not in a gross way); the thing I love most, though, is the family dynamics in the story, which never vilify nor candy-coat what it means to be in a family. I could identify myself and my family in the Lockwoods, and not because it's a hilarious farce of a family nor because my teen-angsty self reared his ugly, early-Justin-Bieber-haircut head and said "YES PARENTS ARE LITERALLY THE WORST I AM VINDICATED!!!!" No, the family dynamics are real, because family is frustrating but you are bound to them--sometimes, you want to erase them, but you can't. Not really. Not ever.

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