Thursday, 31 October 2013

Review: Transparent, Natalie Whipple


Natalie Whipple

HarperTeen; Kindle edition, 2013

Transparent is a fun, cute page-turner that renewed my faith in YA. Fiona is on the run from her mob boss dad, who has been using Fiona's unique powers for his own less-than-savoury power plays. Fiona is invisible, even to herself, and in escaping a life of crime with her mother, she ends up in a non-descript small town in Arizona, experiencing the day-to-day ups and downs of high school life.

The back story was minimal, but enough to establish the crucial points: to combat radiation, pills were given to the population during the Cold War - pills that caused mutations in the DNA of certain members of the population, resulting in special abilities: whether that be strength, the ability to fly, manipulation, voice-throwing, imitation, or, in Fiona's case, the ability to disappear. Transparent is set in the south-west United States, where the territory is ruled by warring mob bosses, Fiona's father among them.

Fiona's invisibility might be useful to her dad, but it's unheard of in any other human, making Fiona both unique and strange to her fellow classmates, most of whom avoid her. Whipple does a great job of revealing Fiona's insecurities, and although Fiona was quite often angry, this seemed more like a reaction to her less-than-stable life and the constant fear she had of being found by the less merciful members of her family. Her developing friendships with Bea, Brady and Seth were well done, and it was nice to see Fiona gradually start to relax into herself.

The romance element was part of the story, and I liked how it wasn't set out in a straight line - there was some confusion and some transferring of affections which made it a little bit less predictable than it could have been. As YA boys go, Seth will go down as one of my favourites, for being both grumpy and lovely all at the same time. (And special mention to Miles, in the hot brother category.)

Though there were some action sequences, and the tension did build as Fiona tried to keep her family safe, for the most part Transparent is about friendship and trust and finding yourself. It's quite a light read, but with a lot of fun moments and enough spark to keep you hooked until the end.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

Book source: Bought from Amazon.

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