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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

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She Is Not Invisible is a gem of a read, a thought provoking and intelligent thriller which can be read on so many different levels. On the surface, it's an adventure story with our heroine, Laureth, accompanying her younger brother, Benjamin, on a quest to discover the whereabouts of their father, famous author, Jack Peak. Sounds straightforward enough but then Laureth has the extra obstacle of her blindness plus she isn't really sure that her Dad is officially missing.

There are so many layers to this deceptively simple story. Jack Peak is obsessed with the nature of coincidence in our daily lives and as you follow Laureth and Benjamin on their journey you find yourself pondering the same issues. Do we manufacture our own destiny or is it predetermined? Laureth is certainly determined to make her own mark on the world and is most certainly not invisible. She and Benjamin make an excellent team with superhero qualities, Batman and Robin spring to mind. I loved the way they worked together as one, along with Benjamin's trusty sidekick, Stan the crow! So many questions are raised and happily they aren't all answered and neatly tied up with a pretty bow.

This is a novel which makes you think, not just about the nature of coincidence but about family relationships, about what it is like to be different, about what influences our path in life. A highly recommended read for anyone with an inquiring mind. If you enjoyed The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon you'll love this.
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I thought this was a really good book. I found it exciting, gripping and thought-provoking, and it has some real intellectual content, too.

The story concerns sixteen-year-old Laureth who, perhaps slightly implausibly, runs off to New York to look for her father with her seven-year-old brother Benjamin (and his toy raven) in tow. I say "in tow," but that's not really accurate; I hadn't read the blurb on this page before reading the book, so the reason why Laureth needs to take Benjamin with her emerged, brilliantly I thought, from the story. You may already know, but for me it would have been a spoiler and, just in case, I won't say more. Their adventures and discoveries over the couple of days that follow are very well told by Laureth herself who makes a thoroughly believable and engaging narrator and they held me gripped throughout.

As well as being a cracking story, this book has important things to say about disability and people's attitudes to it, how families interact and their importance and - subtly, just once but very tellingly - about race. There is also some very good, thoughtful and intelligent stuff about the nature of coincidences and what they mean or don't. It is genuinely funny in places, too. One passage about how Laureth and Stan the toy raven got their names, for example, made me smile throughout and laugh out loud at its end.

This book is for "young adults" and I am sure any intelligent young adult would love it, but this not-young-at-all adult thought it was terrific, too. I read it in a couple of sittings, I really didn't want to put it down and it has left me with things to think about, too. It's a really enjoyable, intelligent read and I recommend it very warmly.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 November 2013
Coincidentally (irony intended) I only read J.W. Ironmonger's 'The Coincidence Authority' within the last fortnight. A very different take on the subject of coincidence, chance and synchronicity is the talented Sedgwick's latest, for a teenage audience.

Skipping around in time, we find ourselves at the airport with Laureth, 16, abducting her 7-year-old brother Benjamin and his toy raven Stan. They are travelling to New York to find their missing father. jack Peak is a popular writer, once known for his funny books, now obsessed with the subject of coincidence and the number 354. It might be a straightforward 'quest' story, but it's not. Laureth is blind. She needs Benjamin to be her eyes on their journey. She has no idea where her father is in the city, only that his writer's notebook has been found there and a reward sought, starting Laureth's determination to find her dad.

It's one of those books that's hard to describe. To describe in any more detail the plot would spoil the marvellous events that happen. We get to see Jack Peak's notes as Laureth and Benjamin try to piece together clues as to his whereabouts. We also get little insights into Laureth's dark world and how she copes with it.

It's a very entertaining read that had me racing to finish in a day. I really admire the ideas and writing of Sedgwick, each book completely different. This would be a superb book for a teenage Book Club to discuss (and comes with ready made readers' notes in the back).
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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2014
Another great book from one of my favourite writers, Marcus Sedgwick, but one that makes a departure from his usual gothic books.

She Is Not Invisible tells the story of a girl called Laureth and her 7 year old brother Ben. Laureth's dad is a writer and he hasn't been getting on with her mum too well recently. Mum's been getting annoyed about the amount of time he's been spending researching his latest novel, which is about coincidence (Or co-inky-dinks, as Ben calls them!). Dad disappears and Laureth can't contact him as his phone seems to be switched off. Then she is contacted out of the blue by this guy in New York who says he has found her dad's notebook. Laureth panics and decides she has to go find her dad. The only trouble is, she's blind. So, she has to take Ben to help her navigate the airport and to get her to the place where she's arranged to meet the guy with the notebook. The tension rises as she makes her way through, always set on her goal of finding her dad, and always working really hard to get around barriers caused by her impaired vision. It's a really compelling thriller and I could not put it down - I read it during a long train journey, and got really lost in the story.

There's lots of good themes and ideas in this book. First, it tells you a lot about love, faith and life, and being determined, and fulfilling your goals. It also has some really interesting discussions about astrology, co-incidence, synchronicity, philosophy, and physics. It tells you a bit about literature, poetry, and writing, and it tells you what it might feel like to be visually impaired, and how some people can be great and others can be blinkered or prejudiced. There's a lot of stuff about human nature to reflect on.

I loved this book. I think if you are a geeky sort of person who enjoys thinking about life, maths, and physics, and you enjoy a page turner, you will find some ideas here that will grab your attention.

Apparently the premise for the story is based on something that happened to the author, but when he told people about it, they did not believe him. So, he decided to put it into a book to test the saying "Fact is stranger than fiction".

I do think that the paperback cover is way more appropriate and attractive than the hardback jacket design, which is beautiful, but I don't feel reflects the subject matter or the book at all. I thought it would be an old fashioned historical tale looking at the front cover of the HB, which shows a silhouette of a young woman, but the paperback cover design is more modern and reflects the fact that most of the story is set in New York City.

Fantastic read. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up (and I actually think boys would enjoy this just as much as girls, though I think the cover design may put them off, and that's a real pity.)
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on 18 November 2013
I knew I would love this book, even before I opened the cover. Coincidences intrigue me. So do first person narrators with unique perspectives. Plus, I am an unashamed MarcusSedgwickaholic and marvel at his ability to put exactly the right word in exactly the right place to transport me to a different world.

For anyone thinking Marcus Sedgwick is all about the eerie atmospheres and gothic undertones, 'She is Not Invisible' demonstrates the flexibility of his talent. He is equally at ease among the bustle, brilliance and general bonkersness of New York City. Perhaps because Laureth, the 16 year-old narrator, is blind and her story is conveyed through her other senses, 'She is Not Invisible' gives a powerful, and at times overwhelming, sense of the heat and the smell and the general LOUDNESS of the city.

The mystery/adventure element is well-plotted and inventive. The action is triggered when Laureth's novelist father, Jack Peak, loses his beloved black book in Queen's, New York when he's supposed to be in Switzerland. The notebook offers clues that prompt Laureth to set off across the Atlantic in an attempt to figure out what has happened to her elusive father - with her gifted seven year-old ("Seeing Eye") brother and his stuffed raven, Stan, in tow.

Jack Peak's black book is more than just a handy plot device. It offers a fascinating exploration of the nature of coincidence. So much so that I found myself scribbling quotes into my own notebooks and heading to the computer to find out more about Benford's Law and Apophenia. I appreciate this kind of stuff isn't for everyone, particularly younger readers, but that's what I love about Marcus Sedgwick. He is described as a children's writer, yet his books are deep, complex and often require a lot of thought and attention. Well, good. So do the best kind of children.

Speaking of the best kind of children, the star of this book is its narrator, Laureth (named after a chemical (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) on a shampoo bottle, because her father found the word beautiful). She is bright, brave and resourceful, and criticises the way blind characters are portrayed in books and films as either "pathetic helpless figures of woe" or "superheroes. Like Daredevil," whose blindness simply serves to enhances their other senses.

Laureth is neither sad case nor superhero. She has her struggles - "I learned to do a thousand things to help sighted people simply talk to me"; and she has her superhuman moments - smashing the lightbulbs and sending her brother to safety so she can take on the `bad guys'. But she is always real and always compelling. She is a character I suspect will stay in my mind long after other details of the story have lost their focus.

The thing about books is this: they can take a while to read and there are lots of them. So sometimes it's hard to know which one to pick up and read. Let me help you. This one.
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Marcus Sedgwick likes to push the boundaries as a writer. His teen/YA fiction is alway challenging in some way, whether it be content or style - and 'She is not invisible' is no exception.

It tells the story of Laureth Peak and her brother, Benjamin. Laureth's father is the famous author Jack Peak, once a successful writer of a string of books that were universally adored. Now he's not written a book for years, struggling with writers block and the need to express his feelings about the world of coincidence, synchronicity and the numinous. Laureth deals with her father's fan mail, and on the day she receives an email from someone claiming to have found one of her dad's precious notebooks, in which he keeps all his ideas, and it has turned up in New York when her dad is supposed to be in Switzerland, she knows something is not right. Her mother is supremely disinterested, and so Laureth decides to go to New York with the help of her brother and find out what has happened to her dad.

Which would be fine were it not for the fact that not only does she have to commit a series of crimes to achieve it, but she is also blind, which adds a whole other dimension to the trip and the problems she and Benjamin face.

The book is a fast paced thriller style adventure on the one hand and a delve into the depths of the world of psychotherapy, physics and coincidence theory on the other. It is also a striking tale of what it is to be unable to see and to worry about not being seen by the world because of a disability you have little or no control over.

This is a fascinating, thought provoking book that operates at many levels and which will stay with you long after you've read it. It deserves reading more than once to get the full impact of it.
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What struck me first was how detailed and precise Laureth's narration was, and how intricate her life was like being blind, but that it did not trouble her at all. It was so realistically accurate that I was astounded at how powerful Marcus Sedgwick had written her point of view. Her outlook on the world was strong and vivid, because she had learned to perceive things differently to how others would with sight, and how strong of a poise she had regardless.

The story follows Laureth as she steals her mother's credit card to journey to find out what happened to her father, who's notebook has shown up in New York after he was doing research in Austria. He's been trying to write a novel about coincidence for several years and without success. Laureth's mother thinks he has an obsession with it, though Laureth has her own suspicions, including thinking he might be heading for a breakdown of some sort, but that something just isn't right about the situation. So when she finds out about his notebook showing up nowhere near Austria, and all the way over in NYC, Laureth knows that the pieces don't add up and she must do something...soon.

With her odd little brother Benjamin, she heads off into the unknown territory to find her father. I thought at this point, and at many before and after this point, that Laureth was incredibly brave, yet delicate at times, she had the courage that isn't found in just anybody, but in someone who truly believes in themselves, blind or not.
I was amazed that in the entire novel, there wasn't a moment where I thought I was missing out on any descriptive writing or lacking details, because of Laureth being blind. She was inquisitive and very aware of her surroundings, and that made for a magnificent novel with more power and emotion than I had read in a very long time. I was baffled, fascinated and hooked at the challenges that Laureth and Benjamin and their family went through throughout the novel, and the consequences and coincidence that intertwined with the plot was inevitably brilliant.
A huge five star novel that's surely going to be loved by many more to come, that I thought was astonishing and flawless. Incredible!

read more at: [...]
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on 8 June 2014
First impressions: This one grabbed my interest straight away purely because of the author. I'm a big Marcus Sedgwick fan so I'm always keen to try his latest release. Once I got over this excitement and read the summary I was even more sold. Throw in the gorgeous cover and this was one of the my most anticipated reads of last year.

Story: The story is a complete winner, isn't it? As always, Sedgwick manages to take a slightly stale concept (YA thriller about a teenager trying to solve the mystery of a loved one's disappearance) and make it overwhelmingly exciting again. The second I read the summary I knew this was going to be something special and truly unique. I haven't read a single YA novel that features a blind protagonist and it puts such an interesting spin on the story - but more on that when I talk about the writing in She is Not Invisible.

Writing: Sedgwick is one of those writers (Laini Taylor is another) where you can take a snapshot of any random page in one of his books and the words will be beautiful. He has such an easy, relaxed turn of phrase, which makes reading his work thoroughly enjoyable and the narrative in She is Not Invisible is gorgeous. The language used is deceptively simple and I've always admired Sedgwick for his ability to tell a meaningful story without needing to lean on overly complex language to try and seem more sophisticated. He is just a classy writer, he doesn't need to patronise his reader to try and prove it.

It was so interesting to read a story from the point of view of a blind protagonist and Sedgwick absolutely does this justice - it's subtly done so doesn't feel like it's been shoe horned in to become an 'issues' novel - our protagonist is blind and that's that, which was definitely refreshing. Reading a whole novel without a visual description of anything, particularly as the setting is New York, really changed the way I look at novels - focusing on the sounds and smells and other senses made for a whole new reading experience and it's an area where I think Sedgwick excelled.

Characters: The characters in She is Not Invisible are just great - my personal favourite being Mr Walker, who really shocked me. When we were first introduced to him I pictured a mean gangster type and what we actually get is something very different indeed!

Our heroine, Laureth, is everything a protagonist should be - likeable, charismatic and engaging. She might make some mistakes along the way ('abducting' her younger brother is definitely questionable) but everything she does is with the best of intentions and her good heart really shines through.

Benjamin (Laureth's younger brother) is very sweet and is often the voice of reason throughout the book - he manages to be innocent and wise beyond his years at the same time. His stuffed toy, a raven called Stan, is a lovely touch and helps breathe life into his character.

Sedgwick does a great thing, which is manage to have two physically absent parents without them being emotionally absent. While the mother and father characters are barely in the novel they still manage to be present within the story and I liked getting to know their characters, despite them having little page time. Family is something Sedgwick does really well here, as we see the different relationships between the characters change and grow as the story progresses, in both positive and negative ways and it's a really balanced view of family life, rather than overly positive or negative, which is what seems to be a new YA cliche (either extremely overbearing parents or those that are never there).

Final thoughts: An exciting, wonderfully told story, She is Not Invisible is Sedgwick at his best. This is a book that will leave you musing your own belief in coincidence and fate long after you've finished reading. And the final paragraph? Fantastic.
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on 12 November 2013
I suppose you could say that I kind of grew up with Marcus Sedgwick. Sort of. I was sixteen when I first read one of his novels, and I instantly fell in love with his unique gothic take on the world. I also loved how he took something well known or popular, and give the concept, be it fantasy, zombies, love even, and turn everything on its head and reinvent them into something original and fresh. Up until this release, it seemed that Sedgwick had taken a break from YA writing, and instead focused more on his younger series, but when She is not Invisible was announced, I was instantly glued to my computer screen, scrambling to find out more.

I was slightly taken aback when I discovered that this release would stray from his usual gothic setting, and instead feature the real world without any sense of anything fantastical. But I should have known that no matter what Marcus Sedgwick writes about, there are always bound to be twists and turns, all with different layers of meaning. She is not Invisible definitely contains some of these different layers, each with their own amount of intrigue.

Laureth Peak is worried when she receives an email from someone who claims to have her father's notebook in their possession. Especially as the notebook was found in New York and her Father is supposed to be in Austria, or Switzerland - she's not quite sure. When her mother doesn't seem to care that Jack Peak can't be reached, Laureth decides to take matters in to her own hands and sets off on a mission to discover the truth about her father's disappearance. Accompanied by her much younger brother, Benjamin, Laureth soon discovers that she has been dragged into her writer father's obsession with coincidence. But she also realises that she must rely on her brother more than ever, as Laureth is blind.

She is not Invisible is an interesting one, a book that focuses more on its central character rather than plot. Laureth is actually a fantastic character - full of charm, sarcastic at times, headstrong even though she denies. She is one determined young woman, and her worry for her father's well-being is emotional, understandable and commendable. Laureth is perhaps the biggest reason why this novel, Sedgwick's thirteenth full length novel, is so successful. And as she is blind, therefore as a reader, we are sort of blind too, which makes Sedgwick's inclusion of racism later on in the book even more profound - I for one did not see that revelation coming, and I think it hits home harder and more successfully as a result.

As she's blind, Sedgwick does a fantastic job at getting into the mindset of someone who has this disability, and actually conveys detail much more extraordinarily as a result. Laureth can't tell if something is blue, or green, but what she can portray is emotion through sound and experience. And to actually see the world as Laureth does is a unique and enjoyable experience indeed. I found myself whizzing through this book as it is so readable. Even the portrayal of Benjamin, Laureth's seven year old brother, is wonderful. He really does help his sister, and their sibling relationship is heart-warming.

I thought the little sections of Laureth's father's notebook were interesting too, and really helped with the understanding of coincidence and science. Despite not really featuring in the book physically, Jack Peak's voice still comes across strong through his notes. His research into Edgar Allen Poe and other scientists as they tried to find an explanation behind coincidences was actually extremely captivating and really made you, the reader, think more about your own opinions on the subject. Are they part of a rule by which the universe follows inexplicably, perhaps God plays a hand, rolling a dice to see what comes up?

I have to admit that this Sedgwick novel will stick with me for months to come, as it works on so many deeper levels and gets you thinking about your own life and what things come your way. I was however, a little disappointed with the length of the book. It is an extremely quick read, I only wish it was a tad bit longer. I also found the ending a little anticlimatic, as to why her father was missing. If the ending had been drawn out a little more, explained in full, then perhaps it may have worked a little better, but as the whole Laureth's father missing story arc only served as the cause to motivate Laureth to board a plane, then I guess why he was 'missing' didn't really matter. It was more about the journey and the encounters she made along the way.

On the whole, She is not Invisible is a brilliant novel, one that sees a different side of Sedgwick, a more contemplative side, and actually delivers more emotion and cause for thought than any other of his novels. The little interactive parts, seeing how many times he slotted the number 354 into the story for example, was interesting and fun and actually, I feel if you were to read this novel a second time, you'd pick out sections you completely missed the first time round. It is a short read, extremely short some may say, but if you love warming characters, and something a little more original and subtle, then a novel about a blind teenager who 'abducts' her younger brother in search of coincidences, then you can't go far wrong with this.
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VINE VOICEon 27 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the first Marcus Sedgewick book that I have read and really enjoyed. The main character is a young girl who is blind and she kidnaps her younger brother. They travel to New York to find their father who is missing. It is a story of their adventure along the way, but it is so much more than this. To tell anymore of the storyline would spoil it for readers who will keep turning the pages to find out what happens when they promised themselves just one more chapter.
It is one which will enjoyed by young adults and parents alike. A must this Christmas time!
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