It was the 13th of September, 13 days after my 13th birthday, when I first learned how to be invisible.
Strato Nyman couldn’t be more of an odd-one-out. He’s the only black kid in Hedgecombe-upon-Dray, he knows more about particle physics than his teacher, and he’s constantly picked on by school bully Lloyd Archibald Turnbull. It’s only at home
that he blends in to the background – his parents are too busy arguing to notice he exists. But one day, Strato picks up a dusty old book in a mysterious bookshop and learns how to become invisible. He soon discovers that people aren’t always what they seem … and realizes standing out isn’t so bad after all.
I was sent a proof copy of this book from Walker Books and it seemed quite unusual and also fairly short so I thought I would give it a go as it would be a short but sweet break in between other books I had on my To Be Read pile.
How To Be Invisible is the story of Strato who is unique in very many ways. He and his parents move from London to the suburbs and life suddenly shifts for Strato as he is know the only black child at his school and he is no longer at a gifted school but a regular state school and isn’t special, he’s just an outsider. Being only just 13 he has rather large thoughts and a level of intelligence that means he can’t always interact with others his age or understand the simple things in life but when it comes to science, he’s a whiz. Strato is given a book, a strange book called How To Be Invisible, and it actually gives him the ability to be invisible. It’s against every bit of science he believes in but he uses this new ability to solve his own life problems and work out why his life has changed so much since the move.
If I’m going to be very honest I found this book difficult to read at times. The story was interesting and I loved the isolation of Strato and how he fit in and then stood out at many times but the character of Strato was very difficult to empathise or sympathise with. Due to his vast intelligence he is very distant and this comes across in the way it is written. From simple things like his speech pattern or the fact that he calls his parents by their names and not Mum and Dad. I did wonder if he had other factors at play outside his intelligence that made his character so disconnected to the world outside him. He is very lonely but he it really appears like he’s just a solo being.
I liked the small details about all the characters and how we don’t really know what’s going on behind closed doors. The bully has his own problems and families that seem happy have secrets and even a friendly face can actually be scary in private. I loved the science meets supernatural but I just found there to be an invisible wall between myself and the MC that meant I couldn’t fully embrace him. I would recommend this book to younger teens that want something of a thinking book to read and as a discussion piece but it may not suit everyone.