Whisper is the debut novel by author Phoebe Kitanidis. Kim Harrison, author of the New York Times bestselling Hollows series and Once Dead, Twice Shy, hails Kitanidis as “a strong new voice in the young adult, urban fantasy genre.”
The story is told in the first person viewpoint of a teenager named Joy. She’s an ordinary high school student in almost every respect, except for her secret — All the females in her family possess the gift to “Hear” the thoughts and wishes of those around them. They refer to these unspoken thoughts as “Whispers.”
Joy first learned to tune into her gift at the age of three, taught by her older sister, Jessica (nicknamed “Icka”). Icka taught Joy to “Hear a Whisper.” The two were best friends when they were young girls, but as they got older, a rift developed between them. While this bothered Joy, her tactic was to avoid Icka and her obnoxious behavior rather than try to mend things.
“Now, at seventeen, her mind was often silent as a shadow… and while I could Hear most people’s Whispers from across the room, she was the only person who could sneak up on me.”
As Joy branches out with her own group of friends during high school, caught up in the excitement of boys and parties, her sister’s behavior goes from annoying to spinning out of control, possibly even dangerous. Joy may be the only one who can intervene. At the same time, Joy is encountering some headaches and unexplained symptoms that she fears may be related to her gift.
Young adult urban fantasies are the hottest genre in the world of fiction right now, and Whisper provides us with a fresh new theme. There are no vampires, witches, or faeries, to be found in this book, but rather a family with a paranormal skill. As with many other young adult fantasies, the central character is a teenage female, and with that comes the typical angst and insecurities often found in teenage girls. However, without giving away too much of the story, I can say that the character shows much promise for being a stronger and more confident heroine by the end. Several of the other characters in the book are interesting as well, such as Joy’s classmate Jamie and her Aunt Jane. If there is a sequel, I look forward to learning more about their histories and what will happen to them.
Note: A similar original version of this article was first published as “Book Review: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis” on Blogcritics.org.