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Things That Are (Things Not Seen) Hardcover – September 18, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Alicia's best friend, Bobby, has gone to New York to scout out colleges, and she realizes that sooner or later she is going to have to tell him that she wants more than just friendship. As she faces the possibility that he is leaving her behind, and is still dealing with her blindness, a new problem crops up. At one point Bobby became invisible, and now there is another invisible person named William stalking him. He follows Bobby home, FBI agents are dropping by, and Alicia wonders just what's going on. Does William just want to return to normal? Is the FBI trying to steal the technology to turn people invisible? Or is William the real threat? Alicia's internal monologues are long, repetitive, and stilted. The plot gathers steam near the end, but Alicia's constant angst over Bobby detracts from it. Their relationship does not seem to have grown any deeper at the end of the book other than the fact that they have kissed. The language and writing seem a little too simple for the YA crowd, but fans of Things Not Seen (2002) and Things Hoped For (2006, both Philomel) might enjoy this installment in the series.—Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children's Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this sequel to Things Not Seen (2002) and Things Hoped For (2006), the action switches back to Chicago. Bobby’s blind friend Alicia narrates the story, in which Bobby returns from New York, trailed by the menacing invisible man. Meanwhile, as Alicia wonders if Bobby is ready to take their relationship to the next level, their fathers conduct secret scientific experiments in which lab mice are made invisible, then visible again, and the FBI hovers in a manner more unsettling than reassuring. Once again, Clements tells a riveting tale, made all the more intriguing by the choice of narrator, who experiences and describes the world differently because she cannot see. Alicia’s relationship with her guide dog (“Gertie’s wonderful, like a low-tech organ transplant”) is just one element that her blindness adds to the story without dominating it. As in the previous books, suspense and romance intertwine here, and the door is left open for more. Grades 7-10. --Carolyn Phelan
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Top Customer Reviews
While walking to the library with her seeing dog, Gertie, she bumps into Bobby. He came from New York to surprise Alicia. He walks her to her booth, tells her they will hang later, and leaves. When exiting the library, she then bumps into a man named William (who is an invisible man that was in the last book "Things Hoped For"). He tells her that he came from New York because he was concerned that men have been following Bobby. She returns home worried for Bobby's well being.
A man from the FBI comes looking for her. He says that he was looking for her and her parents.
Bobby comes over and she tells him that she talked to William, people were following him, and that the FBI came over. He was concerned. They walk to her father's study and they make a shocking discovery. Alicia's father and Bobby's father have been experimenting with the invisibility. The teens tell Alicia's father everything that was going on and drastic measures are taken.
This thriller is good and at certain parts you may or may not want to put the book down. I personally don't like the book as much as the first two.
I felt that Alicia was not my favorite 1st person nararator. I'm not sure if it is because I want Bobby to end up with Gwen or if she just wasn't interesting. But some people are different. "Things Not Seen" and "Things Hoped For" was the first two books to this series. They were my favorite because they were interesting and hard to put down. But to me "Things That Are" was easier to put down. I recommend this book to people who are interested in mystery and romance. I hope this helped you in choosing weither or not to buy this book. :)
THINGS THAT ARE focuses squarely on Alicia Van Dorn, the teenaged blind girl so memorably featured in THINGS NOT SEEN, the first book in the series. In that book, Alicia proved to be as important a character as the main protagonist, Bobby Phillips. Her heartfelt letter to Bobby at the end of THINGS NOT SEEN is one of the best, most moving parts of that book. THINGS THAT ARE tracks two days in the lives of Alicia and Bobby. It begins shortly after the events in THINGS HOPED FOR, as Alicia awaits Bobby's return from his college auditions in New York (Bobby's a musician).
Firstly, I admit to Alicia being my favorite character in this bunch of books. I admire her courage and fierce independence, and how she always strives to live life as fully as she can, despite her blindness. THINGS THAT ARE probes her feelings for Bobby and the first brief chapter opens with her determining to talk out their relationship with him, once he arrives. But the mushy stuff is rapidly put on the backburner as William, the invisible fugitive from THINGS HOPED FOR, shows up and has a disturbing conversation with Alicia. Not too long after, Alicia and her parents are visited at home by FBI agents. Then there are Alicia and Bobby's fathers, who are up to their necks in covert lab experiments...
At 167 pages, this is yet another excellent read by a guy who knows how to write. Again, the characters come to life. With Alicia narrating in first person, we get to know her even better. Andrew Clements goes into good detail about how Alicia copes with her blindness, the constant battle she wages to remain positive and keep pressing on. She receives invaluable help from her sweet-natured guide dog Gertie. It's awesome, as well, to see Bobby, who again displays his resourcefulness and talent for mimicry. There's not too much that's off-kilter with this book, but I guess if there were something which nagged at me, it's that Alicia's poetry and Bobby's music aren't much in evidence here. This is a bit disappointing because poetry and music are so much an integral part of Alicia and Bobby's respective makeups. There's also a deus ex machina element which enters the picture later in the book. It didn't put me off, but it did make me think: "That's a bit of a lucky thing there."
One of the things I enjoy about Clements' writing is that he takes these unexpected paths. One character from THINGS HOPED FOR does a 180 in terms of how that character's perceived. Trust is a big theme in THINGS THAT ARE, and how this book ends hinges largely on a crucial decision which Alicia makes, a decision which if left to Bobby would have marked a different resolution to the story. THINGS THAT ARE isn't much in the action-adventure department, so readers expecting bang-out suspense will be disappointed. This isn't that kind of a book. Oh, there's an aura of peril and tension here, and several anxious moments. But Clements doesn't much invest in epic storytelling. What he excels in is breathing life into those little moments, which then become signature moments. Which is why you grow to care so much for his characters.
I get the feeling that this isn't the last entry in the series, not with how some things are left unresolved (mainly the FBI subplot). This is fine with me. I can't wait for the next one. I think it's being titled THINGS THAT ARE TAKING WAY TOO LONG FOR ANDREW CLEMENTS TO WRITE. But that could be my impatience talking.