Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

29 Sep

Series: Paranormalcy, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Anticipated debut about Evie, who works for the IPCA, an agency which controls paranormal creatures in the world. She meets shapeshifter Lend and things spiral out of control. Great light, quirky and funny read, a nice contrast to the other doom-and-gloom epic paranormal romances out there. Very enjoyable read!

My Full Review:

A lot of hype surrounded this debut, which has earned praise from authors such as Lisa McMann and Becca Fitzpatrick, and a whole lot of rave reviews at the book blogs. Needless to say, I was really happy to finally get hold of a copy!

The heroine Evie is working for IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency which is an organization aiming to monitor and control the paranormal creatures of the world. You could think of it as similar to the organisation in Men in Black, although they of course monitored aliens. Evie is useful to the IPCA as she can see through all kinds of glamour that paranormal creatures use to blend into the human world.

She is an orphan and has been living with and working for the agency practically her whole life. Her best friend is a mermaid who works there as a secretary and her boss Raquel is kind of her substitute mom. Oh, and there is Reth, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a fairy.

Yep, Evie is not the most normal teen out there. Yet normal is what she craves. She wants other teenagers (humans!) to hang out with, a highschool to go to (with lockers!), a driving license and boys to flirt with. Instead, she regularly escapes into her beloved tv-series Easton Heights for a dose of (what she thinks is) ordinary teenage life.

Still, she doesn’t reflect too much upon these issues until things change. A mysterious unknown creature called Lend breaks into the agency and is caught and detained at the IPCA quarters. Lend is a shape-shifter who can take on almost any form. Evie, not surprisingly, is the only one who can see through his various glamours to his real form.

Lonely as she is, and curious by nature, she starts a habit of visiting Lend in his prison cell. Soon they develop a crush on each other. Triggered by Lend, she starts questioning things in her life she had never thought about before. It turns out everything is not what they seem. Meanwhile, something is killing paranormal creatures and the agency is getting worried. Somehow this is all linked to Evie and her past.

My thoughts:

First of all, I was surprised to find that the tone of the book is light. The heroine Evie is explaining everything in a jokingly kind of way, as if not really taking it that seriously. It starts already in the opening scene where she makes fun of a vampire who is about to kill her.

“Oh, stop pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?”

It is definitely refreshing to find a light tone in the narrator’s voice, a nice contrast to all the doomed, epic, dark, haunting and angst-ridden paranormal love stories I’ve read in the last year. I was expecting a darker tone though so it took me a couple of chapters to get used to Evie’s jokes. At first they felt forced, but eventually I warmed up to her bubbly, quirky personality and found myself chuckle out loud a couple of times.

Likewise it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the world White has created. There is a lot of info thrown at you at first. The whole idea behind the IPCA has to be explained, as well as Evie’s role in there and of course every paranormal creature you may have ever heard about is present in this book, so that has to be included too. I felt a bit like I did when I started reading City of Bones, like there was so much world-building going on I found myself detaching from the plot. It didn’t last long though. Once you get used to the idea of all that paranormal activity going on at the same time, it becomes easier to focus on the plot again, and get sucked into the story.

Once I did get into the story, I got into it fast. I loved so many aspects of it. The characters felt multi-dimensional and real . It’s easy to warm up to the heroine, who is strong and insecure at the same time. She’s bubbly with life and says what she thinks, yet she is also insecure and is struggling with loneliness and a feeling of not belonging anywhere. The growing bond between her and Lend is believable. They are honest and straight-forward to each other right from the start. Of course she is the only one who has ever seen Lend for what he really is – which yes, may sound cliché, but actually warmed my heart!

I was equally intrigued by the mystery surrounding the plot. Reth, the fairy seems bent on taking Evie’s heart but what are his intentions? What is the role of the IPCA? What is the creature who is taking out paranormals? And how is Evie’s past linked to all of this?

While alternating between all these plotlines and the growing relationship between Evie and Lend, there was not one boring moment. I was literally glued to the pages until the very end. The ending left me pretty satisfied, all though some questions were left unanswered. I am still wondering about the role Reth played.

One minor dissapointment though was the climax at the end, which I thought was solved too easily, and without being properly explained. Sorry to be talking in riddles but I want to avoid spoilers. For now, all I’ll say is that I was wondering about the logic behind one particular action, attempted and not carried through, by the villain. It didn’t make sense to me.

The Bottom Line:

Despite those question marks, it was still a very entertaining read. Kudos to White for creating such a fun refreshing new take on the young adult paranormal genre! (Something which is quite an accomplishment in the crowded ya paranormal market). I can’t wait to dive into this paranormal world again, which should happen in about a year. The next book Supernaturally is out in the fall 2011.

5 Responses to “Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White”

  1. jenika July 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    I just read your review and it made me very curious… this book is the next in the list of “to be read” books!

    • tess July 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      I’m glad to hear it made you curious! This is a light fun book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Will be great to hear what you think 🙂

  2. jenika July 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Hi Tess
    I am reading Paranormalcy, I am around the 50th page. I really like it, there are many mysteries and veeeery interesting characters.
    I like Evie, Lend and… I know it might sounds strange but I really like Reth! The fairy looks like the “bad guy” of the situation, trying to force some liquid fire on Evie (and I still don’t discover why… he is trying to take her heart but why? For selfishness or for something more?) but I have the feeling it is going to be an inteeeeeeeeeristing character. When Evie is telling Lend she got totally scared of Reth crushing a werewolf alive because the werewolf was attacking her I was actually very interested… he might have been scary but he was protecting her…
    I wonder what will happen next… what is the banshee poem about? Who really is Evie? I go back to reading right now!

  3. jenika July 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    The version of the book online I was reading stops half way in the book… AAARGHHHH!!! So I don’t know what is happening yet (I’ll try look for it around, I hope I can find the book in library or in a book shop…)
    I read until the point where Lend asks Evie to go to prom with him.
    I am not sure I totally like the book as I thought at the beginning of the story… I still don’t really like Lend and Evie together… and it looks like the love interest of Evie is Lend, not Reth…
    What made the book very interesting for me was Reth and why he is so much interested in Evie but it looks like the story has taken a different path than what I was thinking…
    I’ll try to find the whole book anyway and I’ll let you know my thoughts about it…
    (I don’t know if you are into comics, but this triangle Evie-Reth-Lend remembers me a bit what I felt reading the Japanese comic book “Vampire Knight”: I was hoping the main character, Yuki, would get together with her childhood friend Zero but her love interest is the vampire Kaname… I was disappointed and I stopped reading the series…)

    • tess July 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      I hope you found the rest of the book! All though you might be disappointed to see that Evie’s love interest continues to be Lend. I do think though that Reth will play a bigger part in the next book, which will be interesting, because I agree he could become a very fascinating character. We’re supposed to think he’s evil, but I don’t really believe that. I haven’t read the comic book Vampire Knight, but yeah I know what you mean when the heroine picks the wrong guy. It can put you off the entire series Would love to know your thoughts if you do finish it!

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