Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Paranormalcy

PARANORMALCY (Paranormalcy #1)
Kiersten White
Young Adult
335 pages
Harper Teen
Available Now

Pink bedazzled taser? Check. Supernatural target designation? Vamp. Repertoire of witty comebacks for said supernatural target? Check. For Evie, this is just another normal day. Another normal bag and tag operation for the International Paranormal Containment Agency of which she is an employee. At a mere sixteen years of age, she travels place to place identifying and catching anything paranormal, a job she's had since she was eight. It's a normal life for her. It's all she knows.

Soon, all she knows starts to shift into uncharted territory. Someone or something outside of IPCA authority is targeting supernatural beings and they're dying in alarmingly large numbers. Add to that a break in at the Center where she lives, resulting in the presence of an unusual young shape shifter who claims the IPCA has information needed to stop this unknown killer, and Evie's relative normalcy is shattered.

This new shape shifter is as unique as Evie, and though he doesn't share her ability to see through paranormal glamours, he's able to see things about her she never knew existed. For a girl who can see the usual and unusual more clearly than anyone else, life begins to blur at the edges, right and wrong are no longer so clearly delineated, and normal versus paranormal becomes more relative and hits closer to home than ever before.

Evie is an absolute joy. Usually character development takes time, and the character/reader relationship is built as we navigate the story together, learning, loving, and fighting battles of every kind as we go. By the end of the book, a kinship is formed and we relate to the character in a way we didn't early on in the story. With Evie, there is no such warm-up, no slow introduction to her personality. Instead, she bursts from the first page fully formed in a blaze of sarcastic glory. She's charismatic, personable, and extraordinarily witty, making her an instant friend and confidant, and effectively sealing her fate as a character whose future one can't help but have a vested interest in.

Ms. White does a marvelous job of capturing a teenager in terms of temperament and disposition without exploiting so many of the common cliches that force a teenage character to progress from realistic to melodramatic and overbearing. Evie is snarky without being irritating, typically pouty at times without resorting to petulance, and affectionate without being lovesick.

In addition to a refreshing youthful female protagonist, we also are introduced to a captivating romantic interest in Lend. Unlike so many love interests in young adult literature, Lend doesn't puff himself up with a false bravado or strut around displaying colorful feathers for our heroine to stroke while his beauty overwhelms her independence and reduces her to someone who measures time by the moments they spend together. Lend is vulnerable from the beginning, uncomfortable in his own skin and plagued by insecurities we've all faced at one time or another, and the two together struggle with understandable identity issues. Because of Evie's unique ability to see through all the faces Lend can create as a shape shifter, their relationship starts with an unavoidable and welcome honesty, and that open candor continues despite the extensive difficulties they face.

The relationship between Evie and Lend serves to ground the reader in a story that pulses with paranormal activity, proving itself to be neither a distraction nor a detraction from the main storyline, but rather a delightful addition that complements an engrossing plot. Every supernatural species is represented and then some, but through the fangs, fur, and glamour, we are held firmly in place by the sweet awkwardness of first love. Hypersensitivity to the other person's physical proximity, adorably innocent internal dialogue addled with questions about possible romantic motives, and constant analysis of every word and gesture permeates their interactions, and we can't help but smile as we remember walking in those very same shoes.

The only minor criticism of this novel would be of an ending where things seem to get resolved quickly and easily, and the reader is left with a lengthy list of unanswered questions. Yes, this is the beginning of a series and we will learn more as we go, but this conclusion feels a little like being left in the shallow end of a pool; we can see further complications, emotional progression, and needed information swirling in the depths of the deeper end, but for the time being, we are left tethered having barely broken the surface. Toss me a pair of floaties and push me into deeper waters, I'm ready for the sequel.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Great review! I can't wait to read this!

  2. This sounds super good. Must read now!

  3. I got a kick out of Evie too. Great character that I can't wait to read more about.

  4. Great review! I really loved this story, too, and I was surprised because I thought the super-peppy-protag would kill me. I found her endlessly entertaining though :)

  5. Nice review! Totally excited to read it!

  6. I've been more into contemp YA lit at the moment since it seems like there has been such an influx of Paranormals and it's hard to navigate through the good stuff and the Twilight rip-offs. This one sounds interesting I'm always up for a sarcastic, headstrong YA heroine. Great review!

  7. Kelsey - Thank you! I really enjoyed this one:)

    Aylee - You should, it's worth it!

    Lisa - I'm super excited for Supernaturally, I have so many questions that need answering:)

    Melissa - I wasn't sure I would like her either, but she was infectious.

    Savannah - I hope you like as much as I did!

  8. Thanks for the great review! I've been reading a lot of adult urban fantasies but lately I've been curious about YA paranormal/urban fantasy. I'm quite fond of heroines just like Evie so this seems right up my alley.

  9. Your review=fantastically written :)

  10. Mollie - This one would be a nice break from the contemporary YA, it's supernatural without being over the top:)

    Edna - You should give this one a try for sure, it doesn't read like it's targeted to a younger audience, and Evie is fantastic.

    Pirate Penguin - Your comment = made my day:)

  11. I prefer novels to stand on their own as well but if they are so good that that is the only complaint you have then it's not so bad. I'm super excited to read this one and I'm so glad Evie is a likable and fun heroine! Thanks for the review!

  12. Great review! I read this one just earlier this month. I liked it as well, but like you said, thought the ending sped things up a little bit and drew out things that were a little too surprising. Still looking forward to the next book though.

  13. You are such a great writer! Maybe you should take up writing paranormal fiction...

    I am going to push this up in my TBR pile. It sounds unique and fun. AND I always love a strong, sassy protagonist.

  14. anjohnston - Evie is very enjoyable and the questions left at the end aren't overwhelmingly frustrating, I just would have liked a tiny bit more information:)

    Jessica - Thank you! I'm really looking forward to Supernaturally as well.

    Jen - You make me blush:) I wish I were creative enough to have a whole story in my head, but I think I'm destined for short reviews based on other people's ideas;) I think you'll like this one if you give it a try.

  15. Nice review! Heard so much good stuff about this one. Look forward to it!

  16. Your review is made of awesome and win. And even if I didn't want to read this book before you reviewed it your line: "she bursts from the first page fully formed in a blaze of sarcastic glory" has absolutely sold me even more. Your reviews are so awesome, I think you should write your own book.

  17. Ash - I think you'll like this one since we both sincerely appreciate the snark:)

    Tammy - Thank you, I do try to make my reviews chalk full of awesomeness;) This was a nice quick read that made me giggle in appreciation of reading about someone with my sense of sarcasm.

  18. Nice review! I plan on getting to this book one of these days. The cover is one of the better I've seen in 2010!

  19. Hey, I just dropped in off the Book Hop! Given the kids I work with, I feel like I should start reading more YA/teen titles.

    This one caught my eye because of your comment that the female character doesn't stop being herself just because she has a love interest. Plus, the premise seems cool.

    Anyway, thanks for bringing this one to my attention!

  20. Thank you for this review.... This story has been getting a lot of buzz. I didn't realize it was YA, but based on your comments, it sounds like it's better than your typical teenage story. I may have to check it out! thanks!

  21. Great review :)
    I loved this book too :)
    I loved Evie and Lend's relationship!!
    I'm a new follower, I love your blog!

  22. Definitely a great review. You labeled this book down to a tea. I for one am a fan of Paranormalcy and truly love Evie. I also love her relationship with Lend. I love your blog and have enjoyed reading it thus far. I have just started up my book blog and have been wondering if you would be able to look into my blog. I would love some pointers at what I could do better at and what I am doing great at!

    xx Kat xx