Transparent by Natalie Whipple
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.
Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title is now available.
This is one of those instances where the blurb did not adequately prepare me for what was about to happen. As it turns out, it’s even better than I could have imagined.
The book starts off with Natalie and her mother out on the job for her dad. Instantly, I was alerted that this book had so much more depth to it than the blurb had suggested. For one, Fiona isn’t just invisible–she’s one of a bunch of people in her world who have a special ability. Her mother is a telekinetic, which makes them a perfect pair of agents for her father’s mafia. That’s right, her dad isn’t just some lowlife crook–he’s a crime boss with a special power that allows him to bewitch all the women around him to love him. This adds stakes to Fiona and her mother’s escape, as both of them are basically addicted to her father and risk relapse. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Fiona and her mother pull off the job successfully, but things turn for the worse when Fiona’s father decides that she needs to start moving up in the ranks of criminals. Instead of just stealing, he wants her to kill people. This is the last straw for Fiona and her mother. They make a break for it–but the kicker is that they’ve done this before. Her mom always cracks and gets her father to come get them. Fiona not only has to try to “fit in” and stay hidden, but also keep her mother from relapsing back to her father. Their escape leads them to a tiny town full of a couple families of “special” kids, and Fiona starts to feel like this could be home after all.
And then her psychopathic brother and father find them. Whoops.
I honestly wasn’t expecting the kind of world this book was set in, because the blurb I read never hinted at it. I requested the book mostly because I wanted to figure out how Fiona was going to escape at all, being invisible. The real plot of the book is much more interesting, and I’m glad I picked it up just from that. I’m a sucker for books about kids with mutant powers. (Don’t ask me about X-Men, we’ll be here forever.)
There were also several more plot elements then I was expecting. I hoped for action, certainly, and I got it. This book kept MOVING. But there were also points where the stakes were no less high, but yet not centered around a fight scene or a car chase. Whipple keeps your heart rate up as Fiona’s mother threatens their safety because she’s addicted to her father, or because of Fiona’s learning disability. These little things probably made the difference between a three and a four star rating for me. I love it when an author remembers that little details are as important as big ones.
I think my biggest issue with this book was the characterization. Don’t get me wrong, I loved most of them. From Fiona’s sweet brother to her awesome “Pack” of friends to her cute love interest, I was sold on them all. It was our main character, Fiona, who really bothered me at key moments. I think it was mostly because she had moments of out-of-character stupidity that were clearly only there to further along the plot. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, especially when the biggest use of this is to instigate the ending of the book, which I didn’t believe at all because FIONA. This made the difference between the five and the four star rating for me.
All in all, though, I’m really depressed that this book doesn’t have a series tag on Goodreads. I can’t imagine where the story would go from there, but I wish I could spend more time in this world. I look forward eagerly to Whipple’s next work! If this book sounds the least bit interesting to you, I suggest that you get your hands on it. I really enjoyed it!
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