It's not easy being best friends with a celebrity...I'm invisible at my high school and I'm fine with it. It's kind of inevitable with a name like Jane Smith. But when the school newspaper staff insisted that I write a cover story, I decided to find out just how much scandal one geeky girl could uncover.
Except I never expected to find myself starting a fist-fight, auditioning for the school's Romeo & Juliet musical, running away with a Romeo of my own, befriending the most popular girl in school, or trying to avoid one very cute photographer, who makes it impossible to to be invisible.
About the Author
Marni is still adjusting to life in sunny Los Angeles, California. When not writing in front of her air conditioning unit, she can be found rollerblading, bargaining at garage sales, reading romance novels, and watching copious amounts of TV—strictly for artistic inspiration, of course. She loves hearing from readers and hopes that you will visit her at marnibates.com.
Read an Excerpt
By Marni Bates
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Marni Bates
All rights reserved.
Nobody notices the best friend of an overnight Internet sensation.
Which in a lot of ways is a really good thing. Thousands of people around the world don't rate the hotness of my every outfit. No magazines pass judgment about what Smith High School nobody Jane Smith wears on a daily basis. At most, I get a handful of puns tossed my way because of the unfortunate coincidence that leaves me sharing a last name with my school. Best of all, I don't have to deal with unfounded rumors that I'm cheating on my hockey-captain boyfriend.
Not that I have a boyfriend.
But that's why I was perfectly happy leaving the title of America's Most Awkward Girl to Mackenzie Wellesley, aka my best friend since elementary school.
And I was thrilled that my other best friend, Corey O'Neal, was now dating the lead singer from the rock band ReadySet. Sure, I had my doubts about how long his secret long-distance relationship with Timothy Goff would last ... but I was still excited for Corey.
Psyched for them both.
But even though I was happy for them, that didn't mean it wasn't a huge adjustment for me—one that came with absolutely no warning. After all, nobody at Smith High School could have anticipated my two geeky best friends going from Invisible to famous in under a week. They had somehow managed to even out-Notable the Notables—the effortlessly popular kids that every school has but which every guidance counselor assures incoming students don't really exist. You know the type: girls with short skirts and big, erm, pompoms, and athletic guys who drool over the aforementioned girls' skirts.
Kenzie's overnight-sensation status skyrocketed her well beyond their level of popularity, making her a regular geek superhero: going where no Invisible had gone before.
Which was great for her. But for me?
Not so much.
The whole time Kenzie and Corey were going to parties and traveling with rock stars and appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show—I was doing my homework. It's not that my two best friends ditched me ... though it was hard not to see it that way—it's just that they were busier now. That's why they had less time for me. Correction: why they had no time for me. Because their new relationships required both care and attention.
Which left me ... alone.
That's when my Invisibility started to annoy me. Back when we were a band of geeks, everything was fine. I didn't care if nobody at Smith High School could pick me out of a lineup, because my best friends were in the exact same position. That's what made it fun. We could revel in our geekdom, secure in the knowledge that no matter what high school threw at us, our friendship would remain intact.
Until Mackenzie became famous for attempting some seriously unnecessary CPR on a football player who just wanted the crazy girl to stop trying to jump-start his heart. And I was left as the last nerd standing.
That's why I decided to try getting a little attention for a change.
Only ... well, I never expected it to happen the way that it did.
To be fair: Nobody warned me about how easy it is to get in over your head when your best friends have backstage passes and unrestricted access to all things Hollywood. Probably because ... well, almost nobody has that problem. And I really should have figured it out myself. Of course, when you piss off (even accidentally) the rich, powerful, and famous, they'll come at you with everything in their arsenal.
I just didn't consider that part of the equation until it was too late.
Not until I experienced firsthand just how easy it was to go from a newspaper byline to a headline ... and how fully one story could blast my well-ordered, well-regulated, well-planned life to hell.
"Are you sure you're ready for this, Jane?"
"Um ... yes?"
"But you don't confront people. Ever. So maybe telling Mr. Elliot your idea for changing the school paper isn't such a good plan."
I sat up straighter against the vinyl seat coverings of the school bus. "Gee, thanks for that vote of confidence, Isobel. I feel so much better."
My friend Isobel, who had been nervously pushing her glasses higher up on her nose, paused mid-gesture.
"I'm sorry, Jane. I didn't mean—"
Great, not only was I almost trembling with nerves, but I had managed to upset my only friend who hadn't recently become famous. I wished Kenzie were still riding the bus with me. She would have instantly recognized my sarcasm as poorly disguised panic talking. But ever since she'd started dating the captain of Smith High School's hockey team, Logan Beckett, he picked her up in his car. I tried not to take this change personally, but I still missed her. Don't get me wrong: Isobel's great. It's just that we didn't have a shared history. No inside jokes. No meaningful glances that communicate everything we're thinking.
And that meant I had to apologize.
"No, I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound snippy. It's just ... nerves," I explained. "This really matters to me so ... please tell me this isn't a huge mistake."
Isobel looked at me owlishly, her natural expression behind thick horn-rimmed glasses that she probably thought helped her blend with the hipster crowd. They didn't. "It might not be a disaster," she hedged.
"So you think I can get Mr. Elliot to add a fiction page to the school newspaper?"
She paused thoughtfully, and I knew that she would thoroughly analyze the situation before shelling out advice. That's why she was the first person I told about my plan to be more involved with The Smithsonian. Plus, I trusted her to be painfully honest with me—even if I didn't want to hear it. Isobel couldn't lie convincingly unless her life depended on it ... and maybe not even then.
She sighed and looked up at me, concern evident in her eyes. "We're talking about Mr. Elliot, here! He chews out people all the time. Didn't you tell me he made a girl cry last week? How are you going to persuade him to do anything? Bad idea. Really bad."
She was absolutely right. Unfortunately, it was also my only plan. Well, my only feasible one, unless time travel became possible. In which case, I would just rewind about a month and prevent Kenzie from ever becoming an overnight YouTube sensation.
That would have solved everything.
I let my head fall forward and land with a low whump against the vinyl-covered bus seat in front of me.
"Sorry, Jane. You know I love you, but ... you're the biggest pushover Smith High School has ever seen."
"Well, it's true. Take that group project for your English class you were complaining about last week. You practically wrote and researched all of Shake's section as well as your own."
I stared at her—not because she had botched one of the nicknames for the Notable Evil Trio: Chelsea, Fake, and Bake—but because I'd never heard Isobel call me a pushover before. I didn't think she was in the best position to criticize me, given the way she quivers in terror whenever a Notable comes within fifteen feet of her, but apparently that didn't stop her.
"Fake. Not Shake," I corrected, mentally conceding that Isobel's nickname worked too. The girl definitely puts some shimmy into her, ahem, assets whenever she's around a Notable guy. But since everything about Steffani Larson, from the tips of her plastic fingernails to the roots of her blond hair, is capital-letter FAKE, I wanted her original nickname to stick. I had no doubt, given the frequency with which Ashley visited tanning salons, that "Bake" would describe her perfectly for years to come. Especially because nothing rhymes with "orange."
Not that I would ever use either nickname around anyone but my closest friends.
"And what was I supposed to do?" I continued defensively. "If I hadn't researched her part, the grade for our whole presentation would've tanked."
"Maybe if she hadn't expected you to pick up the slack, she would've done it herself."
I rolled my eyes. Fake would do her part of an assignment on the same day zombies descended upon our high school and ate everyone's brains. Even then, she'd probably find a way to flirt a zombie into eating the geeks first. But at that particular moment what I needed wasn't an in-depth analysis of Fake; I needed a partner in crime. But I no longer knew who to ask for good advice. Logan, Kenzie, and Corey would all tell me that there was no reason for me to worry about being entirely alone. That I was making a big deal out of nothing. Then again, it's easy for the hockey player, the Internet sensation, and the boyfriend of a rock star to shrug and say No big deal. I was the only one most commonly referred to as Mackenzie's little friend.
I'd had enough of that to last a lifetime.
Especially since I'd only just started to emerge from under my sister's shadow. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, because it's not like I'd done anything to separate myself from former Notable queen Elle Smith's legacy—except avoid everything that she listed on her college application sheets. And since my sister was involved in everything, my options for social expansion were pretty limited. Not unless I wanted to go back to being known as Elle Smith's dorky kid sister, and that held absolutely no appeal for me.
None at all.
So I couldn't go anywhere near the dance squad. Or the cheerleaders. Or the drama club. Or the yearbook committee. And I was going to stay far, far away from the Miss Portland Pageant. Which left me with only a handful of viable options if my newspaper plan didn't work out: Speech and Debate (which would require public speaking ... yeah, not in this lifetime) or the chess club (which would probably only further cement my geeky reputation).
If I wasn't careful, I could easily slip into some kind of nerd vortex and disappear right in plain sight.
And then I really would be Invisible.
So I kept sorting through potential plans. Maybe I should wait for the next issue to be released before I asked about including a fiction page. Maybe I should discuss it with Mr. Elliot outside of class. Maybe I should follow the chain of command and ask our editor-in-charge-of-everything, Lisa Anne. Maybe ... I couldn't decide on anything.
Even making eye contact with Mr. Elliot seemed risky.
"So what do you suggest, Isobel? That I just keep correcting grammar on the paper forever?"
Isobel pushed up her glasses again. She could have gotten them fixed so that they wouldn't slide down her nose, but I doubt the idea had ever occurred to her.
"I think you should discuss it with him. I just don't think you will." The bus lurched to a stop at Smith High School, but that didn't slow Isobel down. "Are you honestly going to assert yourself this time?"
Well, when she put it that way. "I ... hope so."
"Good luck, then. Put your game face on. Show no mercy. All that good stuff."
I stared at her and then burst out laughing. "You sound completely insane."
Isobel smiled. "I don't do pep talks. So ... just, go get 'em or something."
"Will do, chief."
Isobel swung her backpack, bulging to the point of explosion, across her shoulders. Then she tugged at her mousy brown hair until long strands dislodged from her ponytail and swung down to frame her round face.
"Don't wimp out then."
For someone who hated pep talks, Isobel wasn't doing half bad. She also had a point. As much as I didn't want to admit it, I've got a tendency to postpone important conversations. But nothing would ever change if I continued silently adding semicolons to other people's newspaper stories instead of writing my own.
My days of being a pushover were over.
Except when I entered the journalism classroom to find Mr. Elliot already mid-rant ... I kept my mouth firmly shut.
The yelling wasn't exactly an infrequent occurrence, since even on his best days Mr. Elliot was unpredictable. He believed that his yelling would prove to us that he cared. And according to that rationale, he successfully demonstrated that he cared. A lot.
It's always best to let him get the ranting out of his system before doing anything controversial—you know, like breathing too loudly.
Although I sincerely doubted that any of his long-winded speeches about "stepping up our game" had ever made a difference. Our class was split between the kids who were using their work on the school paper to impress colleges and the ones who thought it would be easy to ditch and go smoke behind the gym. The handful of us who actually cared about the quality of The Smithsonian fell under the jurisdiction of Lisa Anne Montgomery: senior editor of the school paper, future Yale or Harvard graduate, and all-around Most Likely to Succeed shoe-in. I had no trouble imagining her golden future, which would probably include hosting an Emmy-winning political talk show.
Good morning! You're live with Lisa Anne! It's time to welcome our first guest, former vice president Al Gore. So tell me, Al, what projects are you working on now?
She'd be a media darling. I predicted that within the next ten years, Smith High School would start begging for Lisa Anne to give the convocation speech at graduation ... which she'd probably have to decline in order to interview wounded soldiers or angry jihadists or something.
Not that I'm jealous of her.
"Smith!" My head jerked up from my notebook, where I had been doodling little gravestones with my name on them. I'm not overly superstitious, but that didn't seem like a good omen. Although as far as evil portents go, being singled out in the middle of a Mr. Elliot tirade was significantly more damning than a series of morbid scribbles.
I just hoped that nobody noticed the way my hand instantly started trembling.
"Um ... yes?"
Mr. Elliot waved his arms in a brilliant imitation of a windmill. "For the past year, Smith has done a great job with the copyediting and ... other things like, erm, layout. That side of journalism is important too! More of you should get involved. It's time to step up your game!"
It's possible I would've felt honored if he hadn't been completely off base. And if he had taken the time to address me by my first name, which I wasn't entirely sure he knew. I really hated the way he called everyone (except Lisa Anne) solely by their last names, as if we were soldiers in the military waiting for our marching orders.
It always made me hyperaware of the fact that I'm the geekier of the two Smith girls.
So I took a deep breath and said, "Uh, actually, Mr. Elliot—" before I lost the ability to speak. Formulating a complete sentence seemed impossible with all eyes in my journalism class staring at me.
"What, Smith?" he snapped impatiently. I definitely should have kept my mouth shut.
Too late now.
"It's just ... this is my third year copyediting. And I was wondering if maybe I could ... well, do something else?"
A frown furrowed his brow, and my stomach clenched. He was going to say no. He was going to insist that my copyediting was a vital part of the paper. I would graduate from Smith High School next year having contributed nothing more to The Smithsonian than a handful of punctuation marks.
And I'd continue being universally ignored while my two best friends flitted off to Hollywood without me.
"Listen up, everyone," Mr. Elliot barked, panning the room. "This is what I'm talking about! Smith is finally stepping up to the plate, and we're going to run with it." He skewered me with one of his intense looks. "You've got the front page, Smith. Talk to Lisa Anne."
My mouth fell open in shock, but before I could say, I don't want the front page! I want to write fiction, he held up a hand to stop me.
"Make it work, Smith. Now where was I? Right, we really need to improve our advertising...."
He went off on an entirely different tirade, leaving me reeling in his wake.
The front page? I had never wanted the front page. If my fiction plan didn't work out, I had been hoping he might promote me to the cafeteria beat. Maybe let me write an article about the chocolate chip muffins—something small so that I could get my bearings on the actual writing side of things. I never meant for Mr. Elliot to send me from copy editor to front-page reporter overnight. It sounded like a Cinderella, rags-to-riches type deal, only this particular pauper didn't know how to dance at a grand ball.
And she wanted time to learn the steps so that she wouldn't trip over her stilettos and land flat on her face.
I had no ideas. I had no plans. I had no experience.
What I did have was an impulsive order given by an unstable teacher—and an irate Lisa Anne, who marched over as soon as Mr. Elliot finished ranting.
Excerpted from INVISIBLE by Marni Bates. Copyright © 2013 by Marni Bates. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Author Note Marni Bates, author of INVISIBLE and NOTABLE
Every high school has its own version of the Notables.
Those popular girls who can flick back their hair and smile coyly at whomever catches their interest? Yeah, I was not one of them. Not even close. I was the geek in the back of the classroom whose idea of a great weekend involved burying her nose in the pages of a romance novel.
Who am I kidding? That's still my idea of a perfect weekend.
So at first writing a book from the perspective of the most popular girl at Smith High School sounded like yet another less-than-brilliant plan to add to my list. Right up there with giving myself a haircut at the three in the morning during a fit of pique. Oh, and then there was the time I thought pulling an April Fools prank on my literary agent would be downright hilarious...
I kept trying to convince myself that this book wasn't an option; Chelsea Halloway and I were just too diametrically opposed to ever put our differences aside.
I've never been skinny, blonde, fashionable, flirty, or even slightly skilled when it comes to most athletic activities. I'm fairly certain my ballet instructor breathed a huge sigh of relief when the chubby one-girl wrecking crew (who couldn't tell her left from her right) called it quits after less than two months of lessons.
I couldn't relate to the Notables.
That's what I told myself. Repeatedly. It was appallingly easy to convince myself of that lie. Then again, graduating from high school didn't come with any obligation to reexamine my own set of irrational prejudices. I didn't fit in with the popular kids therefore they were secretly pod people who had found some way to rig the system.
That's honestly how I thought of them at the time.
It wasn't until I started listening to Chelsea's fears and insecurities that I discovered how much we had in common. This girl I had instantly dismissed as the anti-Marni faked her way through social situations too. She just had a very different set of techniques.
But both of us shared one particularly crippling fear; that we would never be enough.
Smart enough. Pretty enough. Lovable enough.
I would be lying if I said that my burgeoning friendship with a fictional character instantly silenced those voices of self-doubt. But Chelsea did change my perspective on a whole lot of things, including what makes a compelling villain.
And I will forever be grateful that she allowed me to go where this particular geek had never gone before...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite "Invisible" by Marni Bates is the sequel to "Awkward." It somewhat takes off where the first book began. Jane Smith feels invisible at Smith High School, especially after her best friend Kenzie has become an overnight sensation on Utube. She considers herself somewhat a geeky girl and seems mostly comfortable with that role. She is invisible to the Notables who tend to control the social scene both in and outside of school. When assigned a new project on the school newspaper, Jane gets far more than she bargained for. She gets an invitation to a rock concert and she gets into a fistfight with a football player who has made derogatory remarks about her best friend. To make matters even worse for Jane, she is shadowed by the school photographer, someone who could be potential boyfriend material if the circumstances were right. The characters are nice enough people but for me, they are all a bit too predictable in their behaviors. Jane seems to be heavily influenced by a role she dreams of playing rather than being true to herself in times of stress. And yet, she is a loveable teen, complete with her anxieties and neuroses. Her loyalty to her friends Isobel and Corey is a joy and most of the times, her teenage antics are quite believable. I'm not entirely sure this isn't another version of "Awkward," but it does have its own charm and will be enjoyable for most teens.
Originally posted on my blog: Tangled Up In Books This was such a fun read. I honestly don't think I laughed so much with a book as I did with Invisible. The cast of characters was fantastic. We follow Jane Smith in this book. She's an Invisible. They're school is divided into two basic groups. The Notables, they're the popular kids, the jocks, the cheerleaders you know the types. And then there's the Invisibles. Pretty much everyone else. The kids who feel like, if they just didn't show up one day...would anybody really notice? Jane is adorkable. Her constant snarky, sarcastic remarks both internally and actually spoken were so funny. And her awkwardness and insecurities were very endearing. I could really identify with her, she reminded me a lot of myself at that age. The problem is, that even among her fellow Invisible friends, she's sort of being left behind. Kenzie went from Invisible to in the spotlight over night with an awkward incident that went on YouTube and is now dating a Notable. Corey is dating a rock star and the two are now running in different circles with Jane feeling a bit envious and resentful that they don't make time for her anymore. And very lonely. Jane starts out as this quiet, shy, push over basically. She avoids confrontation like the plague. Finds it easier just to go with what people want or think she wants than to actually voice her opinion. But then it just takes one tiny spark and little by little she goes outside her comfort zone. Piece by piece she breaks down that wall she's built. She grows tremendously until one day she blows. Of course it's after she does something, though completely by accident, pretty horrible and she's lost everything. Then she's finally able to stand up for herself and speak her mind. It's pretty awesome. Oh don't worry, for those of you whom are lovers of all things love and swoony, like myself :D, there's even a sweet little bit of romance along the way. And just a tiny little triangle. Sort of. It's like so minor that even those of you who don't like them will think it's no big deal. We have Miles the gorgeous drama club guy. He's sweet and nice and a total gentleman. And we have Scott, he's sort of the new guy at school. He's kind of full of himself and sarcastic and works on the school newspaper as a photographer with Jane. Which one does Jane end up with? Well you'll have to read to find out! There's actually two other books that came out before this. Awkward which is Kenzie's story. I haven't read it yet but it's on my list to buy ASAP. Then there's Decked With Holly which is a spinoff featuring the band ReadySet, the rock star Corey's dating I mentioned above? That's their band. You don't need to read either of those books to understand Invisible at all. Marni was pretty happy when she found out I hadn't read either of the other two books before reading Invisible and that I loved it so much. Just confirmed that it can stand alone. Seriously only took me one book to turn into a Marni Bates fangirl. This book is fantastic and not only that she's SO SWEET! I highly, highly recommend this book if you're looking for something light that will also tickle your funny bone. You won't be disappointed. It's one of my top reads so far this year :)
I bought the book for 2.99 and they gave me the SAMPLE OF THE BOOK!!! No where did it say sample. The smith high series is actually awesome so is Marni Bates, but until they give me my 3 dollars back i refuse to buy a single book from barnes and nobles!!!
Having the ability to be invisible at school is one thing, but when Jane Smith becomes invisible to her friends, she decides to fight back. Kenzie is busy with Logan and her popularity with a rock group. Corey is busy with his rock star boyfriend. Neither seems to have time for her any more. Working on the school paper, Jane has remained in the background but that's about to change too. Scott Fraser, the super photographer for the school paper has been given the task of watching over Jane as she tries to find her first story. Jane was dealing with Scott constantly around. He drove her crazy. Could she stay invisible forever? Not if Scott has his way. Fabulous! This book really allows teens to see it's okay to embrace their own uniqueness. I LOVE THAT! As someone who was invisible through school, I understand some of what Jane was feeling. Well written and characters so relatable you'll see friends in them. Your teen should read this series. Marni Bates is a wonder at relating to teens on their own terms. I found no issues in this one. I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because it really does a fantastic job of talking to teens. ~Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a fair review~
Invisible is the third book in a series of companion novels. I have read both the first and second books (Awkward and Decked with Holly) and ended up really enjoying Awkward and liking Decked with Holly. In terms of how much I like Invisible, it would have to be between both Awkward and Decked with Holly. These books each talk about a different person that was usually a secondary if not just a one scene character in the previous books. Jane Smith is the best friend of the main character from Awkward.. I honestly never paid any attention to her in Awkward but right now she's center stage. My problem with her is that she was very whiny. Yes her friend is now famous (youtube sensation actually) while her other friend is dating a star (think one of the boys in One Direction). So she feels left out.. I do understand her feelings as if she no longer matters in her friends' life equation. However Jane also has other problems, one named the school's newspaper while the other is Scott, the know it all who she thought was her friend but backstabbed her the first chance he got to be part of the popular crowd (yup, misunderstanding alert!). I personally felt that the plot was lacking in comparison to the other two novels.. the whole point was Jane trying to secure a writing instead of an editing position at the newspaper along with her insecurities towards her friends and Scott. I wished we got more development from Jane, as well as see her grow into someone who doesn't depend so much on her friends. This book contains tons of misunderstandings, so be aware of that. They are the kind of misunderstandings that basically ruin friendships as well as relationships. Character wise, I really disliked Mackenzie's behavior (main character in Awkward). However I really liked Scott, all of Scott, with his smugness, know it all attitude, and the banter between him and Jane. I really liked the growing friendship which later, much later, turned into a relationship. A lot of scenes were pretty funny, especially from Jane's voice. She is a fire cracker so everything sets her off. It was quite funny seeing how she tolerated Scott as well as her relationship with the bookstore owner, her part time job boss, and her very weird relationship with Chelsea, the Queen Bee of the school. Chelsea is the typical popular girl however her character changes dramatically so I am quite excited to read the next novel from Marni Bates, which puts Chelsea in the spotlight this time. This book was great as a fun and light read, and I definitely recommend the whole series to contemporary fans in need of a light read!
Marni Bates does it again! The next installment of the Smith High series, INVISIBLE does not disappoint. It was the perfect mix of teen drama, romance and that zany wit Bates has become known for. The large cast of characters are all deeply developed and come alive on the page, making this a one-sitting, can’t-put-it-down book. It was refreshing to read a YA that is on the lighter side and can make me laugh, but still manages to pack an emotional punch with well-developed story lines and character struggles. I am dying to read more about Chelsea, so I can't wait for the next book in the series!