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Wonders of the Invisible World

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,184 ratings  ·  380 reviews
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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Christopher I don't really write with a message in mind, to be honest. I write about characters who come into my imagination with very specific problems. If a mes…moreI don't really write with a message in mind, to be honest. I write about characters who come into my imagination with very specific problems. If a message is received from any of the stories I write, that's perfectly fine. But I don't feel a story should be boiled down to one particular talking point/bullet point. Otherwise, I'd write out the bullet point and distribute that. Stories are constellations of ideas, not just one idea. I could probably more easily lay out a very long list of ideas I had in mind while writing this story than to say there is only one takeaway item. I hope that makes sense. I wanted to write about a particular place (rural midwestern America) and its intersection with GLBT people, and I wanted to write about family dynamics in such a place, and I wanted to show a queer character coming of age in a rural area of America at a time when even in rural areas the difficulty of dealing with one's sexuality (when it differs from heterosexuality) is at least not the biggest of your problems (like it used to be) though still remaining problematic. And I wanted to write about how a person is still part of their family's history and evolution over time, despite not necessarily having any predecessors in the family (at least not out) to account for your existence within family stories as someone who is different. There's so much more I could say. This very long answer is indicative of how it's not really even possible to say there's a one-liner message to the book (and probably to anything I write).(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  2,184 ratings  ·  380 reviews

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anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: gay mc & li


(dobry is not a name in polish. there's dobromir, dobromysł, dobrosław, dobrogost, dobrowit & a few others but not dobry)
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
A bit biased, obviously!
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Lauren Lanz
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 livi
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtqia
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 t
✰ Aileen ✰
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, e-book
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? ...more
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
• What about this incredible book called Wonders of the Invisible World?
• How to explain how perfect this is?
• How to write how immersed I was in this story?

Okay, come on, first I understand that some people may not have liked this book for several reasons, because opinion and reading is relative to each person, also the way of events is dense and for me they were not fluid. It is tiring reading, detailed throughout history and requires a little more focus and attention. So, if these points don'
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 l
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-mg, ya-recs
Storytelling as a superpower is my jam
Lelia Nebeker
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 ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, magic, lgbtq
"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 l
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
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 rom
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it

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 s
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
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+"
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The world is full of stories. You can get lost if you aren’t careful.

Weird and magical plus romance. Everything about this book was worthy of an A... except the love interest was a bit too perfect to be true. It's like the love interest was more of a plot device than a fully fleshed out character, if that makes sense. Anyway, I found that one aspect mildly frustrating.
Elena May
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 playi
Aug 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
★★★★✰ 4 stars

While I might not have loved this one as much as 19-year-old me did, I still enjoyed this a lot.
I've read a lot of reviews comparing this to The Raven Boys and yes there are some strong similarities. In some ways it also reminded me of Beware the Wild. Yet, in spite of a similar approach to 'magical realism', this novel does its own thing.

I think the less you know about the story the better. Suffice to say that it revolves around Aidan, a young boy who is merely drifting trough his
Ben Howard
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Tori Thompson
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Divine Anas
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
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 :( ...more
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-paranormal, lgbtq
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. ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
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.
Kristel (hungryandhappy)
“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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Flor M
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
hey this was cool and fun
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK..................!!!!!!!!! i want to keep it and hold it close to my heart forever
Zaquery Booth
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-gay
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.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, fantasy, lgbt
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
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
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 charac ...more
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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 Shirl ...more

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