If you had a choice, which superpower would you choose? Invisibility was my first choice, but I’m rethinking my decision after reading Transparent by Natalie Whipple. Who would have thought invisibility would be so complex?
In Transparent, 16-year-old Fiona was born invisible. So invisible, in fact, that the delivery room doctor dropped her in surprise and had a difficult time finding her on the floor. Fiona has no idea what she herself looks like, and neither does anyone else. Her blood is invisible. Anything she eats disappears, although what she wears stays visible. She often walks through Las Vegas naked while working for her father; after all, who can tell? Fiona isn’t the only one in her family with a special ability; her mother is telekinetic and her father controls women through pheromones—a skill he has used to build a drug empire.
Fiona lives in an alternate history—a world that deviated from ours during the Cold War when the drug Radiasure was invented to counteract the effects of radiation. The mutations caused in those taking the glowing blue drug were at first minor, but over time became stronger and more desirable, and eventually became superpowers.
At that point the world fell apart.
Crime syndicates that meter out Radiasure now control Fiona’s world, her father’s drug ring being among the largest. Fiona’s father has no qualms about using her invisibility for evil means, and her addiction to his pheromones deadens her feelings of guilt about committing criminal acts on his behalf. Occasionally Fiona and her mother try to escape, but they are always caught or return because of her mother’s addiction.
Until the day her father orders her to kill.
It is then that Fiona and her mother run to a small town in a rival syndicate’s territory. For the first time in their lives, they almost feel safe enough to act normal—a new experience for Fiona. She now must juggle trying to fit in with living under the constant threat of discovery or betrayal.
In Transparent, Whipple creates a believable world with equally believable teenage characters. I’m looking forward to reading Blindsided, the second in the series.
So tell me, which superpower would you choose?
Donnae Tidwell is a Librarian and Nonfiction/Graphic Novel Selector for the Salt Lake City Public Library. To find Transparent and similar books within the library's catalog, or to find more info on The City Library's programs and services, visit slcpl.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
Natalie Whipple grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU, with a minor in editing. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook Thai curry, pho, and bulgogi.