Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Invisible by Mats Wahl

As a big fan of books that inspire movies, I was excited to read The Invisible, which came to theaters last month. Reading the book, though, made me wonder what was so great that they wanted to make a movie.

Hilmer Ericksson finds out that no one can see him. Supposedly he disappeared two days ago and no one knows what happened. Harald Fors comes in and starts investigating Hilmer's disappearance and learns that a group of Nazi supports might be responsible for the boy's disappearance. Hilmer is soon found, the Nazi supporters are arrested, and the book is over. It is really that simple and really that disappointing.

The novel focuses on the investigation where the invisible Hilmer rarely receives any consideration. I thought that he would have had a huge part, especially since that's the attention grabber. This kid is present but unseen. Maybe that's the irony of it. Not only is he invisible in the story, but his whole character is invisible to the reader and in the novel. The snipits we do get are intriguing, but you're left wanting more.

There is also very little character development and Harald, the investigator, goes from one point to the next without motivation. I pictured him trudging along, doing his job without any really investment in the endeavor. He came, did his interviews, left, moved to the next spot and did it again. Not much was revealed in the interviews and I had no understanding of why he was going to each place when he did. I also had a small problem with "talking heads" - a problem in writing where it's back and forth conversation, and just that. There is no action, there are no speaker tags. Just conversation. I wanted to know what was happening. How were the characters reacting? Were they appauled? Did they pace when they talked? Normally I wouldn't care so much about the writing style, but there was something about this novel that just irked me. It might have to do with Harald and his passiveness. The author didn't make him seem to care enough or have enough motivation behind his actions.

This novel is originally written in Swedish and, for that matter, takes place in Sweden. That might be the main problem with the novel. The Nazi characters seem to make a political comment, more than just hate, but it's not developed enough, or maybe it is, but since I'm not aware of what's going on in Sweden, I feel as though something's missing. This barrier is a just explanation for some failings on the novel's part.

Seeing as this novel was just made into a movie, I expected something spectacular and came up massively disappointed. There wasn't enough to it. The investigation was dull and uneventful. The whole lure was empty. I had hopes for a surprise ending, maybe they had the wrong killer, but there was no shocker in the end. I can only hope that the movie diverges from the book, because if it sticks to the story, it'll be a waste of money and time.

No comments: