I'm still not certain what made me pick this book up. It could be that I've spoken with Hannah on Absolute Write here and there on threads. I like grabbing books by people I talk to -- I know I'm the sort of person who would be happy if people I spoke to did that when I finally get to that point.
But in all truth, this is honestly not the kind of book I would normally read. By the time that I finished Invincible Summer, what I ended up feeling was a sense of "What did I just read?" The book was, to me, neither poorly done nor exceptional. (Which is why I rated it "Good") But now I'm babbling and you're getting bored. Let me see if I can make any sense of this at all, shall we?
Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....
Not your typical beach read.
They sure got that last bit right. And to me, all of the nonsense with Melinda pales in comparison to the events that happen with Gideon. But I'll get to that. I'm going to *try* and stay focused on plot for now. (I just finished reading this book and I'm still reeling here... Bare with me...)
I like the fact that this book is set up so uniquely. It must have been quite the risk to set it up to spread out over such a long period of time. It doesn't always pay off, but when it does the results are awesome. Like most contemporary YA that I read, this did not have a "from point A to point B" plot structure. Events were highlighted as needed and then time jumped when what was happening was not relevant to the story.
I liked a lot of the issues here. While the whole Melinda + Noah + Chase issue was not the most important to me, it was interesting. As I previously stated, Gideon stole the show. I also found the situations that Claudia got herself into pretty interesting. I must say, she makes me glad I never had a sister ... It could have been very awkward.
There were a lot of characters here, and I'm not sure if it was the writing style, or the timing structure or what, but I didn't connect deeply with most of them. This distancing didn't make me not want to read the book. It just felt like I was watching most of the book happen from a ways off, and that felt a little strange.
The character that I did connect deeply with was Gideon. He was a sweet little kid and he was so important to the story from start to finish. Through him I read things in a book that, frankly, I hope I never have to read again. (Huge Spoiler: Gideon drowns in the ocean on Chase's birthday during the third summer.) I think that the way that ASL and all Deaf related issues were handled was tasteful and inclusive of the audience regardless of a person's background in this area, which was really important to making certain that this part of Gideon's character -- and his place within his family -- rang true.
I know what you're thinking: Where's the "Romance" heading? It doesn't belong here. This is truly a book that you don't read because you want romance. This is a book about family, and deciding whether to grow up and choosing who you will be rather then just 'being'.
The pacing here was quite solid despite the way that the timeline was structured and how much of the book is spent inside of Chase's head rather then talking to characters. Don't misunderstand -- this doesn't go on for pages or anything, but it was noticeable to me.
The other thing I wanted to say was that I really couldn't get into the whole Camus thing. The fact that I got tired of the constant quotes might mean that I ultimately missed something deeper that would have furthered my enjoyment of the book. But the truth is the truth, and the Camus stuff quickly got on my nerves.
If you are looking for something different, something that will make you feel and think, and something that will stick with you, Invincible Summer is your book. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride: this book is about a heck of a lot more then an unobtainable girl.