Word Spelunking

Invisible (Smith High) - Marni Bates I really enjoyed Marni Bates' first book set at Smith High, Awkward, and was really excited to jump back into this world and hang with its characters in Invisible. And while Invisible didn't wow me as much as its companion, I found it an enjoyable and entertaining read.Invisible focuses on Jane Smith, one of the BFF's of Awkward's heroine Mackenzie. Mackenzie, her new popular boyfriend Logan, and her and Jane's other BFF, Corey, all play important roles in Invisible, but this book is Jane's time to shine. Quite, reserved, studious Jane is tired of living in Kenzie and Corey's shadows as they remain famous (Kenzie) and date rock-stars (Corey), and after an altercation against a bully and the chance to write a front page story for the school newspaper, Jane just may get her chance to stand out. But writing that front page story means being stuck with photographer Scott. Cute, infuriating, smug Scott. And when a story never meant to be made public is “accidentally” published, Jane gets more recognition than she ever wanted.What I loved about Marni Bates' writing and storytelling style in Awkward, was how authentic and relatable it was. Bates does a fantastic job of crafting a high school setting that feels incredibly real, which is carried over in Invisible. I really enjoyed immersing myself back into the world of Smith High and all its awkward, funny, cringe-worthy, and been-there-totally-know-how-that-feels moments. The teenage dialogue is often spot-on and rarely feels contrived or forced. Yet, Invisible lacked the fresh, smart humor that Awkward was dripping in. Invisible definitely has its funny moments, but its humor just didn't sparkle or captivate like I hoped it would.Bates explores some serious topics, like bullying; homophobia; and self-esteem issues, throughout Invisible, but I was disappointed in how these things are, for the most part, glossed over and given very little attention. Bates definitely sends out a positive message about acceptance and tolerance, but I think, overall, the book lacked real depth and was overly cutesy.I really loved Jane in Awkward and liked her a lot in Invisible. Her shy, logical, always aiming to please and avoid confrontation personality is relatable, and it was fun seeing her break out of her shell throughout Invisible and really come into her own. There were definitely times though when I wanted to reach through the pages, shake her and scream “Stop letting people walk all over you! Stand up for yourself woman!”. Jane's love interest, Scott, was disappointing. He had his sweet moments, but he was mostly an arrogant jerk. One of the characters that surprised me in a good way was mean girl Chelsea. Bates gave Chelsea a lot of depth and development for a mean girl. I loved that, even though she is often bitchy and snobby, I totally get why characters are enamored with her. She isn't just all pretty clothes and a pretty face, and people aren't simply scared of her; she has an addicting charismatic charm, without ever resorting to being cheesy or out of character. I look forward to discovering more about Chelsea in Notable.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Invisible is a cute, fun read with a likable heroine and hip story. I really enjoy Marni Bates' entertaining and fresh writing style and storytelling, and always look forward to her next book. Invisible and its companion, Awkward, would make great summer reads!

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