X-Men meets the Godfather: Transparent by Natalie WhippleTuesday, May 21, 2013
by Natalie Whipple
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publication date: May 21st 2013
Pages: 352 (paperback)
Source: ARC from publisher
Author's website | GoodReads
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.Fiona McClean hates her family, has had to move to a new school and seems to be completely invisible to the boy she likes. So far so normal, right? But Fiona really is invisible. She doesn't even know what colour her own hair 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.
Even an invisible girl can't hide forever.
Born into a world where Cold War anti-radiation pills have caused genetic mutations, Fiona is forced to work for her mind-controlling mobster father as the world's most effective thief. When her father announces she must become a murdering assassin, Fiona and her telekinetic mother make a break for freedom. Running to a small Arizonian town, Fiona finds that playing at 'normal life' with a mother on the edge, a brother she can't trust, and a boy who drives her crazy is as impossible as escaping her father.
I entered Fiona McClean's world the way I would enter a classroom on the first day of school, expectant but slightly hesitant. I really wasn't sure how to react to the blurb because it had so much going on. Family problems? Mutants? Mafia? Heck, it was even advertised as The Godfather meets X-Men. It already packed a heavy punch, and if you roll it all up with the fact that this is a young adult book with high school and boys, you really just don't know what to expect.
Transparent started out slow, introducing us to the mafia syndicate world that Fiona was born into. The author writes in a precise way that slowly made me felt at ease about all the information about syndicates and pills that strengthen mutation that bombarded me at every flip of the page. It was all so easy to read and I soon found myself settling into the plot and the world that Fiona lived in.
Fiona wasn't an easy protagonist to like because she had all these faults about her. I mean, you can't expect her to be a sweet little Mary Sue considering the way that her father brought her up. She spent most of her life performing missions and stealing for a mafia syndicate, so she had all these walls and reservations, always feeling unease whenever someone shows the slightest kindness towards her. Her older brother Graham often abused her by flying her way up into the sky and dropping her to the ground, so the only person she truly trusted was her other brother Miles who had a useless mutation and was considered nothing in the eyes of their father.
When her mother took her to a small town in Arizona and enrolled her in high school, it was like her whole world and everything she was taught changed. Everyone stared at her and poised her as a threat to their peaceful town, but Brady and Bea, mutants like herself, came to her aide and became the first two real friends she ever had. Her world slowly opened up to kindness in the form of a family of mutants, the Navarro family, and Brady's brother Seth. I slowly learned to love Fiona as she went through all these changes and became so much stronger because of the people that she let into her life.
Seth. Can someone please find a pen and add him to my list of book boyfriends? Pretty please? This boy right here is the guy for me. I love Natalie Whipple for creating a character like Seth; someone who everyone relies on to fix things, but is so dreadfully broken himself. Seth and Brody have a really complicated family, and Seth took the reins by becoming the man of the house early on and grew up fast so that Brody didn't have to. Seth tutors math for the extra cash and lives for the subject because as long as you know the process, you'll always have a solution to the problem.
He's really rude to Fiona and is pretty blunt about things, but he has his reasons. Seth is broody, awkward, shy, blunt, geeky, courageous, hesitant, and a complete whirlwind of emotions. I'm guessing that some people will vote for Brody, but I'm Team Seth all the way. He's probably the best thing to happen to Fiona, and her to him. I'm going at a length here by saying that Fiona is basically Scott Summers and Seth is Jean Grey. Yep. Go away, Wolverine! (Yes, I know what happens to Jean and Scott's relationship. Yes, I still stand by my point.)
The plot seemed like a mess to be honest, but it started to clear out along the way and everything fell into it's perfect place. Natalie's writing was so easy to understand and flowed so perfectly, I didn't have to retrace my steps. Her skill for writing characters so incredibly real astounds me to the core and for that reason, I will continue to look forward to her future work. I loved every character in this book, major or not. Transparent in set in a world much like the X-Men universe, where mutants were common but feared upon for no reason. The difference being that Natalie Whipple took all of that and added just the right amount of reality and humanity into it. Each and every one of her characters had a story to them, and these stories are our stories.
And how do you wrap off a story like this, you ask? I'm not giving anything away. Let's just say that it tugged on the seams of my heart and warmed my soul. By the time I read the last sentence, I was smiling from ear to ear.
THE NUB AND GIST: 4.5 STARS