Title: Invisible i
Series: The Amanda Project
Author: Melissa Kantor
ISBN: 9780061742125
Pages: 296 pages
Publisher/Date: Fourth Story Media, c2009.

“Look, obviously you’re not going to believe us if we say we’re innocent. So why don’t you just ask her yourself? She’ll tell you,” said Nia, and the carzy thing was that now her confidence didn’t remind me of Cisco so much as of Amanda, the only other person I knew who never backed down in the face of authority.
Vice Principal Thornhill got up and walked around to the front of his desk. Then he leaned back on it and crossed his arms, staring at each of us in turn.
“That’s a lovely idea, Nia and I’d be happy to comply. There’s just one problem with your plan. As the three of you know perfectly well, Amanda Valentino has disappeared.” (12-13)

Callie Leary was at the top of her game as one of the popular “i-Girls” at high school. That is, until weirdo Amanda Valentino befriended her, and then vanished, leaving behind a set of clues. Amanda had told Callie that she was to be her guide of the school. It turns out that she had also told that to two other kids, Nia Rivera and Hal Bennett, which she has nothing in common with except they are all receiving messages from Amanda. These cryptic messages are what unite them in their quest to find Amanda and get out of Saturday detention for something they didn’t do. It appears that someone else is also searching for Amanda, and they question what they actually know about a girl who told so many stories.

In this Stargirl meets media-driven 39 Clues, there is a very hip/trendy looking website (www.theamandaproject.com) put together in the book and in real life to solicit clues from readers. I’m thinking about featuring this book in November for National Novel Writing Month, since contributions on the site are worked into the plot line of the printed novel. Talk about interactive reading! Readers can log onto the site and assume identities, such as classmates, exchange students, former friends of Amanda, anything.

The characters in this novel read real to me, with Calli trying to maintain the charade of her perfect life with little success. She’s got some real issues to work through, which are slowly revealed through the reading, just like the intriguing nature of Amanda. Nia is sarcastic and someone who doesn’t accept any nonsense, especially from Calli. When Callie finally joins her and Hal at their lunch table, Nia asks her “Are you for real or are you just a tourist or something? Because sometimes it feels like you want it both ways.” (243) Hal seems the most stable of friends, serving as the mediator between Calli and Nia. He’s the stable one in the group, and I can’t wait to learn more about him in the next book. I can only imagine how Amanda and Stargirl would have gotten along, but I think it would have been famously. One scene that sticks with me is Amanda’s description of mathematics and religion.

Supposedly I was catching Amanda up on quadratic equations, but really she was teaching me about totems, specifically hers and mine. When I pointed out that totems and superstition and ancient belief systems were about as far from trigonometry as you could get, Amanda gestured at me with her quill pen.
“Au contraire,” she said. “Belief systems are belief systems.”
“Oh come on!” I said. “Math isn’t a belief system, it’s an explanation for how things work.”
“Right,” said Amanda. “In other words, it’s a belief system.” (68-69)

Pick this book up right away to join in the search!

EDIT: Just found this “trailer” online. I want to try to make my own book trailer sometime soon. Maybe I can get one of my friends to show me how to use the software over the summer. Also, just like 39 Clues, the books are all being written by different authors under the pen name “Stella Lennon”. The second one comes out in June 22, 2010, according to Amazon. You can read the entire first book online for free right now through The Amanda Project’s website or through Harper Collins. I don’t know how long it will be available, so take advantage of it while you can.

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