Review: The Invisible by Amelia Kahaney

The Invisible
Amelia Kahaney

HarperTeen
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released October 7, 2014
304 pages
YA / Superheroes / Fantasy

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In the riveting sequel to the reimagined superhero story The Brokenhearted, Anthem Fleet takes on a powerful new villain and makes some startling discoveries about her family and her past that will forever change her.

Taking up where The Brokenhearted ended, the sequel finds Anthem Fleet attempting to return to a normal life after an experimental surgery that left her with a bionic hummingbird heart and a terrifying new strength. But she can’t shake her suspicions about her father’s connection to the Syndicate and she can’t ignore the cries of help in the crime-ridden city of Bedlam. She finds new promise in her relationship with Ford, but after his lifesaving surgery, the Ford Anthem knew slips away.

When a mysterious new group called “The Invisible” starts attacking the privileged North Siders, Anthem has to step up and be the New Hope that Bedlam needs, or Bedlam will fall…once and for all.

Publishers Weekly called The Brokenhearted an “atmospheric, adventure-laced debut” with “graceful world-building, strong characterizations, and an enveloping plot.”

After the pseudo-superhero origin story of The Brokenhearted (which I reviewed on Monday), where would Kahaney take Anthem in the sequel? Would it pay off the promises set up in the first book or would it fly off to crazy town? After being pretty content with Kahaney’s attempt at dipping her toes into the original superhero genre, I was pleased with the sequel. While I might not be jumping up and down, throwing this book at everyone in hopes that someone will read it, I was happy with the direction the story is going and the twists that genuinely surprised me at the end.

SPOILERS FOR THE BROKENHEARTED AHEAD

After Anthem found out Gavin was the head of the mobsters and conveniently threw him over a cliff so that he died right in front of her, I was uncertain where the rest of Anthem’s story would go. Would she return to being a normal high school girl? Spend her spare time cleaning up the rest of the mob? Find some new horrible big bad to fight?

Well, this is inspired by comic books, so no one should really be surprised that a new masked big bad pops up. Or that in this second book, Anthem’s secret identity starts to leak around the edges. All the standard tropes we’re all so familiar with are well-worn, but they still fit in nicely with the overall story. Instead of fighting bad guys for entirely selfish reasons, she’s now trying to save kidnapped children that have been taken by someone wanting to “even the scales” between the rich and the poor. It’s your standard class warfare with a crazy person in the middle of it.

Bedlam is still a terrible name for a town and I don’t see why anyone sane would choose to live there. It still has a Gotham-light feel to it. The atmospherics aren’t as pervasive in this book though as Anthem spends more time inside the stomping grounds of the rich and the famous.

The cast of secondary players gets a little smaller, while secrets start unravelling. Part of the book tells an unknown backstory that’s clearly part of The Hope’s story (the vigilant that nearly turned around the fate of the poor side of town before Anthem was born). I feel as though some of the reveals should have been obvious, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story ties neatly in with Anthem’s growth and provides some depth to what could have been an otherwise surface level plot.

I’m still iffy on Ford. I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Anthem in The Brokenhearted, and now I’m being told that it’s been amped up by 10 but it doesn’t feel real. I do enjoy them as a partners-in-crime sort of duo though. They work well together and they have a nice friendship if only the romance piece wasn’t forced.

This was a fun, quick story about a girl with budding superpowers. I’m glad they haven’t made her powers too over the top, though there are hints that she may be on her way to flying by the end of this journey. I really enjoy having a narrative that embraces the superhero genre and, despite taking place in a city that’s lost its luster, isn’t a grimdark story without any sense of hope or light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing about this story leaves me feeling bleak, and so far, I’ve really enjoyed the journey alongside Anthem.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.