Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Monday, May 20, 2013

Title: Transparent
Author: Natalie Whipple
Date of Publication: May 21, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First, thank you so SO much to Sarah of HarperCollins for providing me with a review copy of Transparent! Transparent is one of my most anticipated books of 2013. I think it stemmed from my love of anything mafia/gang ever since I read The Godfather. And to know that it's a wee bit sci-fi with powers and a contemporary romance too, I was sold. Hook, line and sinker. I talked off Precious' ears about how much I want this book and now, I'm gonna talk your ears off about how I much I liked and enjoyed Transparent. So, let's get on with that review!

In the world of Transparent, normal people coexist with those who have mutations. These mutations can just be pointed elf ears, or a streak of color in your hair or blue skin. But it can also be in the form of superpowers such as extrasensitive hearing, night vision, super strength, flying and of course, invisibility. Fiona is the first and only invisible person and unluckily for her, she was born as the daughter of a mobster. Forced into a life of crime, all Fiona wants is to be truly loved by her father and to have some semblance of a normal life. A happy family and a normal school life. The usual teenager takes these for granted but for Fiona, she'd willingly trade being a syndicate princess for these. Tired of being used as a tool, Fiona and her telekinetic mother run to Madison, Arizona, ready to stick it out this time. 

In school, Fiona becomes an outcast, not only because she's invisible but because they also know she's the daughter of a syndicate boss. But two of her classmates befriend her, Brady and Bea. Brady possesses superstrength while Bea can imitate any voice and even yell it to your ears. Fiona can't believe that actual people would want to be friends with her, that people can be nice. She resists their advances to establish a bond with her. I can't blame Fiona as she grew up in an environment where there's always an ulterior motive. Even her father, a charmer, only showers her with attention and love when he needs her to do something. With that, Fiona's hesitation to make friends was organic to her character though I still wanted to shake her for her to get over her reluctance to accept their friendship.

As if being invisible isn't hard enough, Fiona also has to deal with her father pulling all the stops to find her and her mother. Her flyer brother Graham who have always been her father's lapdog is also helping them hide but why? And the one which has her heart all up in knots, boy problems. Fiona likes the ultra nice Brady but her Math tutor Seth also gets to her and pushes her buttons. You can't help but like Brady but you won't be able to help but love Seth. Seth is arrogant and rude, but it all seems like he only projects this tough exterior. He overcompensates and ends up with an attitude problem. Inside, he's a good ol' softie, who has had a rough childhood and who tries to fix everything. Is it obvious here that I am on Team Seth?

Admittedly, their early interactions weren't that engaging to me. I like bickering and bantering but these two have strong, opposing personalities and they're so stubborn. But as time passes and they spend more time with each other, you get to see how they're actually perfect for each other in many ways. The romance was sweet (Oh, Seth, oh wonderful Seth) but for me, the familial relationships were the core of the story.  Bea's family, including her four brothers and their parents, acted as Fiona's second family. I adore the Navarro family and Carlos was so douchey, sleazy and funny. I love all of the characters and I mean ALL, especially Miles and Graham, Fiona's older brothers. Aside from Seth, of course.

And of course, in the end, it was the coming around of Fiona's family that ultimately gave her and her family freedom. Transparent is equal parts a story about family, friendship and love. It is also a story of accepting one's identity and how you can leap over any obstacles with the help of your family and friends. Garnish that with superpowers and you get a pretty awesome read. I recommend this to contemporary readers, especially to those looking for a little cross with the sci-fi genre. Do know that it's a contemporary through and through, only that the characters are teenagers with superpowers in a small town. I think the world of Transparent can be worked into a series but for now, it is a standalone novel. Will I read another book set in this world? Definitely. Congratulations to Natalie Whipple for her wonderful debut!

About Natalie Whipple

Natalie Whipple, sadly, does not have any cool mutations like her characters. Unless you count the ability to watch anime and Korean dramas for hours on end. Or her uncanny knack for sushi consumption.

She grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook Thai curry, Pho, and “real” ramen.


  1. I love The Godfather just as much, but I felt the opposite when I first read the blurb. Sci-fi/contemporary? Err... no likey. BUT I was completely proven wrong by the book and loved it as much as you did. I agree that it was mostly contemporary > the paranormal aspect throughout. Great insight, Dianne!

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

    1. I guess I just like superpowers a lot. And have you read Pivot Point? It's also a contemporary with paranormal/sci-fi aspects which I really enjoyed as well. Thanks for dropping by, Ellie! <3

  2. *blushes* Haven't seen The Godfather movies.. Nor have I read the books. I love a great family relationship as well. And I adore a sweet, takes-time-to-roll-out romance. I'm so glad you liked this so much, hon!

    1. *mock gasp of horror* You haven't read or seen The Godfather??? We're totally not fit as friends. Do you know that I decided to name my hypothetical future son Vito because of that? Haha! Kidding on the we're not friends but I'm totally serious with the Vito. And yes, I think you'll enjoy the romance in this then. Thanks for dropping by, sweetie! <3


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