ARC Book Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Posted April 21, 2013 by Debby in Reviews / 13 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: Transparent by Natalie WhippleTransparent by Natalie Whipple
Series: Transparent #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 21st, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Supernatural, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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.

2 Stars

Let me start by saying that the tagline “X-Men meets the Godfather” is cruelly misleading. Of course, we should know that with taglines by now, but they’re still deceptive. The inherent action and intrigue implied by that tagline is really only present in the first 10% and the last 10%. What do we have in the middle? A contemporary-like romance with some supernatural elements thrown in there in an attempt to create a deep story that kind of just fails in the execution.

The beginning of the novel I can best describe as weaksauce. Fiona, the invisible girl, lives in a world where all kinds of supernatural abilities exist due to an anti-radiation drug’s side effects. Her father has the power to manipulate her and does so to force her into carrying out numerous crimes for his crime syndicate. So, her mother one night decides it’s best for them to run away. It felt like such a rushed beginning. The result is that this dark mafia world is largely left unexplored – because they get out of there so quickly, and the rest of the novel, they’re in hiding.

And the weaksauce story continued when they arrived at a little town in the middle of nowhere. First off, Fiona is freaking annoying. She’s super judgmental and self-centered, and I don’t know what the big idea with her character was. I suppose Natalie Whipple was aiming for a strong female character, which I get, coming from the crime world and not wanting to trust anyone. But she came off as extremely abrasive at the beginning. Maybe it’s because we didn’t get to see more of her suffering in the crime world to start with.

More ridiculousness ensued when Fiona goes… to high school! (Can I get a *headdesk*?) She meets Bea, a girl with whom she shares almost all her classes. It’s ridiculous how badly Bea wants to be her friend. She chases after her, and on a daily basis asks her to have lunch with her or go to tutoring with her. Meanwhile, Fiona is being the biggest rhymes-with-witch in the world. She runs away from her, avoids her, ignores her. Why? The only real reason she gives is that Bea is too pretty. So I just don’t get it. Fiona was really freaking mean, but Bea kept chasing after her anyway. I seriously had trouble with this. It all just felt so awkward and unrealistic. Things come to a head and Bea just starts yelling at her – warranted, but still weird, because if someone keeps acting like that to you, you give up trying to be their friend. But no. They then become friends.


Were I in a different mood or did I not have the entire day set aside to read this book, I could very well have stopped there. Luckily, it gets somewhat better. I think I’m going to mostly classify this as a really, really awkward beginning (if beginning = ~40%).

The rest of the novel was predominantly average. There’s romance. It looks like a love triangle for a while, but since this is a stand alone, thankfully there is a clear conclusion. The twist to the romance, though, felt extremely predictable – and in fact, I knew it from the second the character was introduced. Still, it was a rather nice execution. With Fiona’s power though, there were just some really awkward scenes every now and again that almost made me feel uncomfortable.

The antagonists were sufficiently evil and creepy, if not a bit too much so. Considering they’re family, it’s rather troubling how violent they are to each other. Again, with the mafia world in the picture, it shouldn’t feel this awkward, but it does, because the whole story feels rushed.

It all just left me wishing for more substance. Fiona is effectively still running away from her father and hiding the whole story. And how ridiculous is it for someone who is INVISIBLE to need to put in so much effort? I mean, if he’s really that bad, you can ditch your mother, who seems to be the weakest link, and go live in a freaking cabin in the middle of nowhere. It just felt rather underdeveloped. There was much more potential for the world building, Fiona’s power, and just… in general.

On the plus side, it’s a quick read – really quick. For me, a slow reader, it was only like 4-5 hours. The writing is decent and compulsively readable (albeit a bit too much ‘telling’). The main romance is pretty cute, when you get over the awkward parts. The ending is ultimately satisfying for the kind of story it ended up being. Though I wished for more, it tied up most of the strings and had a general feel-good vibe.

Summing Up:

This may be my most disappointing read of 2013 so far. I had really high hopes for this one, but it ended up being vastly different from the story I expected. With such an unlikable main character and awkward, ridiculous plot elements, it’s not something I would confidently recommend.

In Three Words:

Recommended To:

Yeah, no.

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13 responses to “ARC Book Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

  1. Can Fiona turn her invisibility on/off? From the blurb, it makes it sound like she's always invisible. Everything you pointed out makes me so disappointed – I had loved the Godfather meets X-Men tagline, and like a sucker, thought the plot might at least try to live up to it! So it doubly sucks that not only is that tagline a lie, but that the plot centers around her life in hiding!

  2. When I got the ARC of this book I got so happy because it's one of those books that's been so highly anticipated all over the blogsphere but after this review… not only I'm not excited to read it anymore, but I'm not sure I'll even give this a try. It just sounds so…wrong. And awkward. Great review, though. Pretty honest and so nicely worded! : )
    My recent post Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

  3. Judith

    OH NO! This sounds very disappointing and considering it was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2013… meh 🙁 I can get really pissed when I hate a main character (hi there, Dante Walker), so I don't know if I would like Fiona. The story just sounds a bit forced. And awkward because "how ridiculous is it for someone who is INVISIBLE to need to put in so much effort" hahahahah. That's just weird. I'm sorry this was such a let down for you 🙁 I will MAYBE read this one day. But then again, so many debuts have sort of let me down this year that I'm not even hoping for much anymore ha.

  4. Aww, yeah… this is just such a disappointment. I'm wondering though if it's not just a case of "it's not you, it's me". Perhaps others will like it more than I did, but I can't really think of what kind of person would like it right now xD If you do read it, I'll be really anxious to read your thoughts 🙂 Thank you!
    My recent post ARC Book Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

  5. I'm with you… This and Ink were my most anticipated debuts. Ink had better live up to it because lord knows, save for Pivot Point, all the debuts I've read this year have seriously disappointed me. asdfjkl; I may need to avoid them in the future until I see people actually like them :3

    "The story just sounds a bit forced."
    <img src="http://i1359.photobucket.com/albums/q799/snugglyoranges/gifs/tumblr_mlm72sHJ2B1qm2ghvo6_500.gif"&gt;
    It's like someone put a gun to the author's head and demanded she write a story about an invisible girl and under all the stress, logic flew out the window. *sigh*

    If you do end up reading it, I'll look forward to your review 🙂
    My recent post ARC Book Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

  6. tumblingbooks

    I was really excited about this until I read your review. THANK YOU!! You totally saved me from reading something that I probably wouldn't have liked. It doesn't sound good.

    One of the things that I hate the most is when a character is practically begging to be someone else's friend and DING DING! this book has that. Nope. Not reading it.

    Oh and abrasive main character? Awful. Awful. Awful.

    Seriously awesome review!
    My recent post Review: The Archived

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