|This Isn't What it Looks Like|
|Publication date||September 21, 2010|
|Published by||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
| Preceded by|
This Book Is Not Good For You
| Followed by|
You Have To Stop This
This Isn't What it Looks Like is the fourth book in the Secret Series, preceded by This Book is Not Good for You. It will be followed in September 2011 by the fifth book in the series, You Have to Stop This. It is based on the sense of sight.
In this book, Cass has just eaten Time Travel Chocolate from Señor Hugo. She falls into a coma and travels back in time, to when the Jester was alive. Cass at first has no recollection of how she got to that time period or who she was, but decided that her memories would come back eventually. However, she later discovers that she was something like a ghost; invisible to all, yet still able to manipulate objects around her. During the journey to find people, she meets a strange woman named Cassandra, though she goes by Clara. It was at that moment that Cass finally remembers who she is and what she has to do.
Clara helps Cass by telling her what the Tarot cards show, and leaves her a monocle that is capable of seeing faraway objects and seeing through objects. Unfortunately, the Jester was gone by then, so Cass was stumped trying to figure out where the King's castle was. Then a royal procession comes by, headed in the direction of the castle. A team of bandits then loot the procession, redistributing the wealth to the poor, as opposed to giving it to a king who already had everything. After overcoming her shock, Cass sees her chance and starts following the procession, all the while hoping that she will be able to find the Jester soon.
In the present, Max-Ernest was getting increasingly anxious and depressed as Cass wouldn't wake from her coma. Even after administering the antidote made by the Tuning Fork, he still failed to bring Cass back from the past. Feeling guilty and alone (Yo-Yoji was back in Japan and unable to provide much help), Max-Ernest goes to Pietro for help. Though Pietro couldn't do a whole lot to help, he first advises Max-Ernest to return the Tuning Fork to its original owner and tells him to remain strong in the face of hardship.
Back in the past, Cass finally reaches the castle, and sees her old friend Mr. Cabbage Face being dragged into the kennels for refusing to speak. Cass follows him, and notes the discrepancies in the story she once read about the Homunculus. She later coaxes Mr. Cabbage Face to speak, but the Jester walked in on that moment and saw the entire thing. Unable to see Cass, the Jester reveals that he had intended to free the homunculus and leave the castle as he was tired of life there. Unfortunately, the king's guards heard all the commotion and were about to enter the kennels. The Jester encourages the homunculus to flee while he dealt with the guards, cultivating with the Jester's capture.
In school, there was news of a new student, which Max-Ernest decides to ignore at first as he was engrossed in finding a way to wake Cass. But then he later realizes that the new student was his old friend Benjamin Blake, and the duo begin talking again. Benjamin expresses sympathy about Cass' predicament, and offers to help Max-Ernest wake Cass, claiming that he knew how to bring her back from unconsciousness thanks to his special monocle. Though Max-Ernest was suspicious as to how Benjamin knew of what happened to Cass--he told no one about Cass' disappearance from the school--he was desperate to have his friend back and so agreed to let Benjamin help. Still, Max-Ernest was more than unnerved by the radical change in his friend, and thus wrote an e-mail to Yo-Yoji detailing Benjamin's dramatic change in character.
Meanwhile, Cass followed the guards to where they were currently keeping the Jester captive, and found Lord Pharaoh threatening the Jester for letting the homunculus loose. As he was turning to leave, Lord Pharaoh accidentally brushed against Cass, knocking the double monocle from her hands. Lord Pharaoh pockets the double monocle before she could reclaim it, and also takes a bit of the Time Travel Chocolate for good measure. Cass is then locked into the same cell as the Jester, and the duo then begin talking. Cass sought for ways to prove that she was invisible, not a figment of his imagination and his descendant, and he grudgingly agrees, though he admits that he isn't sure about anything anymore.
The bandits from earlier break into the prison, freeing the Jester and several others in the process. Cass insists that the Jester follow the leader of the bandits, a woman named Anastasia, so they may be safe for a little while longer. Even though Anastasia objected to the Jester taking one of her horses, she begrudgingly let him follow her as the king's guards were descending upon them. The next day, after waking up in the bandits' campsite, Cass has another conversation with the Jester, but Anastasia came by to tell the Jester that he was no longer welcome and had to leave. Cass then decides that it was time that she asked the Jester about the Secret.
In present time, Max-Ernest and Benjamin go through their plan for the last time, then head to the hospital to execute their heist. While Max-Ernest's distraction bought Benjamin enough time to slip inside Cass' room, the ruse falls apart soon enough when the hospital staff start seeing holes in Max-Ernest's 'symptoms and conditions'. Panicked, Max-Ernest rushes into Cass' room, only to see Benjamin acting a touch strange. Benjamin mutters something about extracting the Secret from Cass, which made Max-Ernest suspicious of Benjamin. However, a nurse catches them both in the room, and Benjamin hurried out, claiming to be looking for his grandmother. Max-Ernest was more than relieved that the Secret wasn't revealed, and his suspicions about Benjamin were proven true when Yo-Yoji's email noted that the principal in Benjamin's new school was Dr. L.
In the past, Cass is dismayed to know that the Jester has no idea what the Secret is. The Jester, sensing her distress, tells her that she did not really fail; she had just traveled a bit too far into the past. Abruptly, the king's guards have the bandits surrounded, and the Jester urges Cass to sneak away with him. Cass refuses to abandon Anastasia, and instead insists on helping them. The Jester then goes off to distract the guards while Cass comes up with a plan to make the guards leave. Unfortunately, the king's dogs have caught her scent and were following her, forcing her to walk away and toss her shoes, sweatshirt, belt and socks as to momentarily confuse the hounds. Mr. Cabbage Face then appears, and gifts her with the chest of treasures the bandits had stolen the day before. Then the homunculus proceeds to distract the hounds, leading them away from Cass.
Cass finds a lodestone in the treasure chest, and gets an idea on how to save the Jester and the bandits. She made her way back to where the Jester was--now bound up to prevent his escape--and whispered instructions to him. The Jester then proceeds to play along, telling the guards about the story of Excalibur. Then the Jester goes on to add that if a sword flies back to the lodestone, it proves that the king isn't worthy of the guards' allegiance. Cass then plays her part, and the guards are astounded by the seemingly miraculous display. The guards then let the bandits and the Jester go free, and Anastasia begrudgingly thanks the Jester and Cass for their quick thinking. Cass then proceeds to tell Anastasia about her story, then urges Anastasia and the Jester to do all they can to prevent Lord Pharaoh from finding the secret to eternal life. After they agree, Cass starts feeling faint-headed and passes out.
Max-Ernest had been more than worried when he found out that the hospital staff had moved Cass back home, and ran all the way to her house to make sure she was all right. After Cass' grandparents and mother left for dinner, Max-Ernest began talking to Cass, even though he wasn't entirely sure whether she could actually hear him. He also plays an audio clip of Yo-Yoji playing the guitar, hoping that it might activate a part of her brain and bring her back into the waking world. Then Yo-Yoji himself makes an appearance, and he tries to comfort a visibly distressed Max-Ernest. The two boys were initially frightened when they saw Cass' heart monitor flat-lining, but then realized that the power was cut out. While Yo-Yoji went outside to investigate, Max-Ernest remained with Cass. Benjamin then threatens Max-Ernest for the Secret, revealing that he was the one who cut the power in Cass' house. Before anything bad could happen, Cass woke up and knocked Benjamin out by hitting him on the head with Yo-Yoji's guitar. Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji rejoice over Cass' return, and proceed to bring her up to speed on everything.
Back at school, Benjamin had reverted back into his old self, and everyone was attending the annual Ren-Faire held by the school. Cass gets increasingly frustrated when her memories of the past weren't as clear as she'd liked, and always felt like she was missing something. She then realizes that there was probably a hidden message in Mrs. Johnson's lodestone pendant, and sought to obtain it. Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji then decide the best course of action was to have Yo-Yoji sign up for the joust as it was forbidden for students and would send him straight to their principal. Later, at the jousting match an unknown knight makes an appearance, and the duo notice that Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L were in the crowd as well. Yo-Yoji barely escaped a deadly joust, and was withdrawn from the competition right away.