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inv Invincible by Amy Reed | Rating: ★★★★★

"No one knows what to do with me now that I'm alive. There's no protocol for how to treat someone who comes back from the dead. There are so many books about grief and loss, about saying good-bye to the people you love. But there is no book about taking back that good-bye."

As a note, a finished copy of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

The biggest mistake a person could make when picking up Amy Reed’s novel Invincible is to make the assumption that it is similar to The Fault in Our Stars. If you go into this novel thinking it will be anything like the other, you’re only going to be disappointed. The truth is that they are both heartfelt and will twist your heart until its broken on multiple occasions, but that is where parallels really and truly end.

While there are similarities between both novels, ultimately the story and our lead characters coping mechanisms are completely different and the only deep similarity between these stories is the theme of loss and cancer. A lot of readers have been unable to finish the novel due to the differences in its down, during the split then and now.

I found the differences startling and quite heartfelt, though. As someone who has watched cancer tear people apart in the past, I thought that Amy Reed crafted the character of Evie incredibly well. She is everything a teenage survivor could be and her struggle is all too real. Evie comes to life on the pages of her story and sometimes you want to shake her and sometimes you just want to hold her.

She is refreshing, to say the least. Evie is not your new Hazel Grace nor is she your new Mia Hall. Evie is a teenager who is making mistakes and wrapping her head around survival.

There is something so honest about Evie and her struggles–her miracle recovery, what comes next after spending so much time being the sick girl, the loss of her old self and her friends to the disease that by all accounts should have killed her as well, her inability to accept that she survived while a friend hadn’t.

I can’t stress how important her voice and her story is. She is incredibly flawed and she struggles and for a while, she acts out. And how could she not? It’s not that I give her behavior a pass, it’s that it actually makes sense for all that she has gone through.

While in the hospital, Evie had lost hope due to her declining health. It’s not an astonishing or unique trait to have when all you’ve known is changing. Everyone had accepted that there was nothing more that could be done. She had her family and friends and her boyfriend supporting her every step of the way. She had two friends who were going through the same things–Stella and Caleb.

One day, Stella and Caleb help Evie see the outside world one last time before she dies and it’s magical. It’s a risk. It’s teenage behavior at its finest. But in this event, something shifts in Stella’s health and it isn’t long before Evie and Caleb lose their friend. The trio turns into a duo and a heavy feeling is in the air.

Then, the unimaginable happens–not in a bad way. Evie’s health has somehow cleared up and she is released. She is able to have a second shot at life–but being the survivor isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Evie struggles deeply with fitting back into her old life, being the girl she once was, and finds it tedious to keep up with the shallow teenage day to day.

Soon, she can’t bear to remember the past. Any of it. Who she was, who she’d lost. She shuts out Caleb, she shuts out her boyfriend Will, she shuts out her best friend Kasey, she shuts out her sister Jenica and her parents. It’s unfortunate but it feels so real to us and I felt so badly for her.

Her only bright spots come in the form of a boy named Marcus, whom she falls head over heels for and the feeling is mutual. The more she lets Marcus in, the more she struggles and the more she relies on pills, on weed, on alcohol and anything to take away the memories of who she was and what she survived.

When another loss hits her and Caleb passes on, Evie is filled with pain and regret. All the times she avoided his texts and all the times she didn't go and see him, I wanted to shake her. I had a feeling this would happen. And now, he died without knowing why she was ignoring him. She doesn’t know quite how to handle it and it’s… wow. Okay, that’s all I can really say. There’s so much pain and emotion in Invincible that you’re not going to be able to keep a dry eye view of the novel.

It’s by far one of the most heart wrenching novels I’ve read in recent years and it’s beautifully crafted. In so many ways, ta novel in this genre can be painful and cliched and cringe worthy and overly optimistic. But Invincible has a tone of realistic emotion to it that others are lacking. It's striking. It's breathtaking. Evie feels real–like a living breathing survivor, like a young woman struggling and most importantly like a teenager.

I loved this novel so much that words can’t describe it. Amy Reed put together a perfectly touching and beautiful story, twining together themes of survival and love and fear and it is a real knockout. I can’t wait to see what happens to Evie after that ending and what is next for Evie and Marcus both.

I’m still crying over it–the loss of Stella, the loss of Caleb and the guilt that Evie will continue to feel. I’m so nervous and excited to see what becomes of the next installment.

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