Illustrated by J.P. Coovert
Finne Garrett was an average kid with pinky peach skin and black hair until That Dreadful Day. That was when Finn began to turn invisible. At first it was a few white hairs. Shock s what everyone thought, but over the next few weeks, Finn's hair turns completely skin and his skin just as pale. Why? Is it really shock, or is he becoming a vampire, or worse, is he truly turning invisible?
The premise of the story is great; a boy slowly disappearing due to the death of his father. But that's all there is in the way of a plot. It reminds me of a lecture I once heard with Allison McGhee in which she admitted that plot often eludes her. Once, when a friend asked for some good plot ideas, she send back an email with these two words, "Albino squirrels." Not much of a plot, but it is a place to start. That is how I felt about The Last Invisible Boy. The idea itself was great, but it didn't really go anywhere. Finn has no actual character development in the story. If this was really a story about a kid getting over the death of a parent, then I was a little confused. How exactly did Finn move on? By planting a tree? By not hanging out in the cemetery as often? And most importantly, why was Finn turning invisible?
This story reminded me of many of the things I was taught not to do in writing. Info dumps all over the place. In fact, most of the chapters were written to give us another load of information about Finn, information that never really moved the story forward. Written in first person journal style, I was often confused by Finn's references to everyday being Earth Day and his insistence on mixing up his tenses. Strangest of all were the instructions to the reader where he tells them to write down something or stop reading. Do you really want your readers to put down the book they are reading? The other really important information was left out of the book. What did his father die of? I assume a heart attack, however young readers cannot be expected to assume this and for some reason Finn never actually says, which made me wonder if he even knew. When he finally explains "That Dreadful Day", I got the firm impression that none of the adults were forthcoming about what was going on, something that I don't think would happen if the child was twelve. Perhaps if he was younger, but twelve is more than old enough to know what is going on. Secondly, why was Finn turning invisible? Not even Finn seems to know and in the end I was a little annoyed because this was the promise of the story and nothing really came of it. Was it supernatural or not?
All that said, if I had a young child who was dealing with the death of a parent, particularly a father, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat because despite its plotlessness, the story itself may well help a child dealing with a situation like this,