Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Transparent


TransparentAuthor: Natalie Whipple
Release date: May 21st 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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.

Look, Mom, it’s a standalone! I feel like I haven’t read one since the 90’s. Such a rare bird! I totally want to dissect it.

In some ways, Transparent is a wonderful surprise. The worldbuilding is fairly simplistic, but that is far more preferable to a messy, underdeveloped world. During the Cold War, a pill was developed to neutralize the risk of radiation, only it had unforeseen consequences on DNA of those who took it (and of their children). Abilities like super strength, telekinesis, or even flying became a part of everyday life. There are sport teams and competitions especially for the gifted.

Most often, the gifted are somehow connected to the mafia. If someone has an ability the syndicate bosses can use, they always find a way to get that person to cooperate. Fiona’s father is one of those bosses, and to make matters worse, he is a Charmer. He uses his gift of persuasion to keep those who work for him compliant. Fiona and her mother tried to run from him many times, but he always found a way to bring them back.

Again on the run, they find a place for themselves in a small town where Fiona’s father can’t easily reach them. For the first time, Fiona is allowed to go to school and make friends. Naturally, she is mistrustful, careful not to get close to anyone. But two gifted families take her under their wing and Fiona is suddenly surrounded by friends and a boy she likes.

While it was both entertaining and well-paced, Transparent was far from being without problems. A couple of things made very little sense, including Fiona’s lack of knowledge about her own appearance. For example, she didn’t know whether her hair was curly or just wavy, but surely hair dye would have helped her see. Her facial features were a mystery, but wasn’t there some sort of heavy makeup that would have allowed her to see herself, at least for a minute or two? (Supposedly, when her skin absorbs something, it becomes transparent as well.)

One character’s transformation (or should I say redemption?) came completely out of nowhere and made very little sense. Surprising your readers is good, but things need to click together in retrospect. Making a random thing happen with absolutely no foreshadowing isn’t the same as tricking your readers into thinking one thing when you’ve been leaving clues about something else throughout the novel. The ending was awfully abrupt and entirely unbelievable. If there was a sequel planned, I’d understand, but Transparent seems to be a standalone and for a standalone, a rushed, implausible ending simply didn’t work.

Nevertheless, Transparent is enjoyable and fairly original. I recommend it for a slow, lazy day when you want to be entertained and not much else.

23 comments:

  1. Everone has been saying that this is a slow read. I have like no patience so I don't think Transparent and I will be great to each other. I'm trying it anyway as the cover and synopsis have been intriguing enough.

    Brilliant review, Maja! <33

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  2. While I love the worldbuilding behind this one, I can see how it would get frustrating to hang out with Fiona. And the out-of-nowhere redemption...I need a bit more hand-holding to get to endings like that. Oh well. I'll keep it on my TBR list. Maybe over the summer!

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  3. Yay for standalones. There should definitely be more of them. But since you mention a rushed ending, I fear there is a sequel brewing somewhere. It happened to a lot of novels from 2012 that had an open ending and I thought that they were standalones. :/
    I like the premise - the idea about altered DNA etc.
    Great review Maja. :)

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  4. I am totally loving stand alones lately because they really do seem to be rare these days, which is sad. I love series but it is just nice to read something and know that is it, the story is over and done with HEA or not.
    It sounds like this one was far from perfect but still a really enjoyable read. I think I want to give this one a try.
    Fabulous review as always!!

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  5. Happy that this one worked a bit better for you than it did me. There was just so much that didn't work for me here. I couldn't get the MC's desperation in her situation. I mean she is an invisible girl on the run, where is the desperation there? Surely she could never be found! And they didn't even really try to hide! She went to school and used her real name! GAH!

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  6. I'm confused Maja. If she's invisible to the extent that she doesn't even know what she looks like, how is she going to school and making friends? Can she turn the invisibility off? And if so, would she then be able to see what she looked like? Clearly I have questions. It might help if I actually read the book huh? Seems like I might have some questions even then, but overall I'm curious about this one:) Bonus points for it being a stand-alone! They're an endangered book species:)

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    1. She's always invisible, and she's the only one of her kind, but there are lots of other people with different genetic mutations that it's accepted and dealt with, so she can function within the society.

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  7. 'Such a rare bird! I totally want to dissect it.' LOL That's totally how I feel whenever I read a standalone. Far too rare, there needs to be more.
    I don't get how it's super hard for her to run away and hide from her dad... she is invisible. I guess if she brings her mom then it adds a complication though. Her mom doesn't have powers? And how strange that she's unaware of her facial features and how she looks like. I think most invisibility talents I've come across in novels and even in movies, their abilities allowed them to shut it off. Interesting premise but I'm not sure this one is for me. Great review though! :)

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  8. I was just remarking on another blog that I am having a bad go of Harper Teen titles all of a sudden. The last few have been a flop. This one sounds better but still not what I expect. I love that this is a stand alone and that it is a good read, but I am so not a fan of rushed implausible endings especially when it is a stand alone. I didn't request this one and even though it sounds better than my last reads, I won't be reading it as I just don't have time. I totally love the skull button on your blog! It rocks!

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  9. Haha, standalones are definitely rare birds! Not sure when the last time I’ve seen one was either. (But you must refrain from dissecting it, surely it’s endangered. :D)

    I was initially SO excited to read Transparent (I just can’t get enough of these superpower stories), but my enthusiasm is waning after reading so many ok to meh reviews. I’m really glad you enjoyed it enough to give it 3.5 stars, but it sounds like the ending would definitely frustrate me. “Surprising your readers is good, but things need to click together in retrospect.” <--I love this sentence (and kind of wish all authors would read it!)

    Perhaps I'll still give it a try when I'm in the mood for an entertaining read (with tempered expectations of course). Wonderful review Maja!

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  10. It's weird that the MC doesn't even know what she looks like. I do like the simplistic world and the DNA mutation thing, but I don't think this is a book for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Maja! Also, abrupt endings really makes me mad :/

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  11. Oh a standalone! Yes, so rare especially in YA!

    This does sound like an interesting premise, but I admit, it doesn't capture me. It sort of confirmed it when you say that the growth/redemption comes out of nowhere. Oh don't like that at all. Must have a better ending! I'm an ending gal! :)

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  12. The bad ending of this would put me off for starters but I'm actually quite confused. If she's invisible, how can she go to school and make friends? From your review it doesn't sound like she becomes visible, if she doesn't know her hair or features?? I'm a bit lost lol

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  13. Oh my gosh, a standalone!? I have to admit.. i come through those rarely eheh, but I am starting to dig up more and more! I been curious about this one, it is definitely different... it does remind me a little of x-men eheh

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  14. Hmmm....I like the sound of this one but the nonsensical plot points has me a bit hesitant to pick it up. I think the book would have been better if it went through another revision and edit. Not sure if I'll pick it up.

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  15. I've read a lot of mixed reviews, but I do have a copy so I plan to read it one of these days. I'm glad you enjoyed the story even if it had it's flaws. I guess we'll see what I think once I read it!

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  16. A standalone! Gosh, I love that they still exist! Yet, despite the fact that this book has so many appeals, I know I'll be skimming it. I really hate when authors spring up random events during a story, so this doesn't seem to be for me. Still, great review, Maja! :D

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  17. Great review and a standalone.. Maja is that possible? Are ya sure we don't need to read a prequel novella and two follow up novellas? Ha..i loathe that new trend. This is the second book released in YA dealing with invisibility but this sounds different. Too bad about the dropped in ending, I am like you and need it to resonate with the story, character and myself.

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  18. I found it entertaining too, and love your comment about the standalone since the 90s

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  19. LOL!! I totall agree! Finding a standalone these days is like finding some rare animal or something. I have seen this book around but honestly it never made it to my to-read shelf. I'm sorry to hear some things about this one. I mean I'd have the same issues. Great review Maja :)

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  20. Surprising your readers is good, but things need to click together in retrospect.

    Completely agree with this! There is unpredictable and then there is illogical. It's why I wasn't fond of The Collector's ending. I haven't really been too sure about this one, but I won't take it off the list just yet. I'm not in much of a hurry to read it though.

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  21. I don't know that I'd enjoy this. I don't much like the idea of being transparent and I think it would bother me the whole story. Does that sound weird? It is refreshing to read a stand-alone. But this sounds like it almost needed a second book. Great review, Maja. :)

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  22. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one and so will probably save it for a day of mindless reading. I do like that this one is a standalone.

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