Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teen Review: Things That Are and Things Hoped For

Our whole family enjoyed Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements so much that I borrowed its two sequels from the library, Things That Are and Things Hoped For. I enjoyed both books, although they’re not typical sequels.

Both books include the main character from Things Not Seen, Bobby, a fifteen-year old who wakes up one morning to find that he’s invisible. However, Bobby’s not the narrator – nor the main character – of either of the sequels.

In Things That Are, Bobby’s friend Alicia is the narrator, and two years have passed since she helped him when he turned invisible. Alicia has been blind for the past four years and has her own challenges to deal with every day. At the start of the novel, Bobby is away in New York City auditioning for college, and he meets another invisible person, William, who follows him back to Chicago. Bobby suspects the stranger may be dangerous, and he and Alicia worry about what to do about William.

Here, Alicia has her first conversation with William:

I whisper, “You and Bobby talked last night, about three in the morning, right?” I don’t know why I’m whispering.

“Ah – so he told you about that. It was closer to four. And, yes, we had a talk. More like a shouting match. And he jumped into a cab with his suitcase before I got to tell him what I think is happening, before I convinced him how much I need his help. I’ve got to help him understand what’s going on.”

And, even though I’ve got my hat and coat on, I shiver. Because I’m picking up this deep agitation, almost a hunger in the man’s voice.

This follow-up novel has the same elements of mystery, suspense, and science fiction as the first book, but this time we get to see the situation from Alicia’s perspective, as she worries about her relationship with Bobby and struggles to figure out the right thing to do about the William situation.

Things Hoped For follows a similar path. This time, the story takes place in New York during Bobby’s audition visit, and is told from the perspective of Gwen, another music student auditioning with Bobby. This novel deals with the same situation – Bobby’s encounter with the invisible William –but this time we see the inside story of what happened while Bobby was in New York, as narrated by Gwen, an intriguing narrator with her own challenges to deal with.

Both sequels feature Andrew Clements’ well-known talent for portraying real-life kids – older teens this time – in difficult situations. The mix of mystery, suspense, and science fiction makes these novels even better. If you liked Things Not Seen and want to read more about the characters, then you’ll enjoy both sequels.

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