Friday, August 5, 2016
Things that Are - Andrew Clements
Things that Are is the third book in a YA series by Andrew Clements. I haven't read the first two, so I have no idea how this book compares to its predecessors. Things that Are focuses primarily on Alicia Van Dorn, a blind teenager from Chicago. Her parents are professors at the University of Chicago, and she is best friends with Bobby, a kid who turned invisible because of an electric blanket malfunction. Yep - you read that right - Bobby became invisible because of an electric blanket.
When Alicia receives an accidental phone call from Bobby in the middle of the night, she knows something isn't right. She hears him arguing with someone, then the call ends. Later the same day, Bobby arrived back in Chicago. He meets Alicia at the university library, where they talk and hang out in a private room. When Bobby leaves, Alicia finds herself sitting on a bench getting ready to leave when a disembodied voice starts talking to her. The voice belongs to William, another person turned invisible because of an electric blanket malfunction. The rest of the novel, which only occurs over the course of one 24 hour period, includes another electric blanket, sleeping pills being fed to Alicia's dog, and a couple of visits from the FBI.
Perhaps it was because the book was so short, or perhaps it was because this was the third in a series in which I haven't read the first two books, but this book just kind of fell flat for me. There wasn't much of a chance for character growth since the book was so short and took place over the course of one day. That only slightly bothered me - I don't know many people after all who develop much in the course of 24 hours. However, it did bother me that all the characters seemed superficial and felt just kind of stale.
Also, because the story was a quick, look what happens in one day kind of thing, it felt like everything was rushed. The author jumped from one thing to the next, and seemed to throw in certain events just because he could. For example, when Alicia's dad killed some mice by putting them in the garbage disposal - that was an unnecessary event. There was really no rhyme or reason to because, GUESS WHAT?! The mice are invisible. He could have found some other way of hiding the mice from the FBI if he was really that concerned.
Overall, I'd give the book 2 stars - read it if you must, but be forewarned that you might find other books more interesting.