Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Last week I attended Natalie Whipple's book launch for Transparent.* I got home and immediately started reading it (and cursing the delicious cupcakes that were offered at the bookstore and the havoc they created on my weight watchers points allotment for the week).

Transparent is pitched as The Godfather meets X-Men, and wouldn't you know it? I love both those things. Friends, countrymen, people who know "reluctant readers" ... you want this book. I finished it in two hours (my super power is freakish reading ability) and my only real disappointment is that it won't have a sequel. The back story is simple and clever -- during the Cold War, Americans were regularly popping a pill called Radiasure to protect themselves from inevitable nuclear war. The pill gave their babies various super powers which then multiplied over generations. The FDA pulled Radiasure from the market, but drug lords continued to manufacture it in order to create better powers (because some of them were close to worthless) and strengthen ones that already existed.

By present day, you have people born with the ability to fly (Fiona's gangster brother Graham) and invisibility (Fiona), as well as seeing in the dark, mimicking any sound, super strength, and others (you have to read the book to find out who got those).

From the back cover:

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.

* To be clear, at this event I also kept up my wonderful track record of being an awkward weirdo at book launches. An elderly man named Bill were bringing up the end of the line, and we got to chatting about his grandkids. When I got to the front of the line, I got Natalie's signature in my book and then started to leave, but then remembered I should say goodbye to Bill. So I turned back and said, "Nice meeting you Bill!" The only people who turned around were Natalie and a woman from the bookstore -- Bill was totally focused on getting the spelling of his granddaughter's name right in her book. So then I stood there awkwardly, waiting for Bill to finish so I could say a proper goodbye, while the bookstore woman kept glancing at me, like, "What are you still doing here? You know this is over, right?"

Good times.

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