All Evie wants to be is a normal teenager. She’s obsessed with a TV show that depicts what she believes are normal high school kids, and she pines for a world in which she could have a locker and go to the prom like a normal girl. Evie isn’t normal, though. She works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA), her ex-boyfriend is a faerie (whose intentions are dubious at best), she’s crushing on a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person she knows who can see through paranormal’s glamours. When paranormals start dying in record numbers, Evie starts to realize that not only is NOT normal, but that she might be the key to a mysterious prophecy that could alter the world forever.
Although I’m generally not the demographic for supernatural fiction, something about Kiersten White’s debut novel grabbed my attention. It garnered a lot of attention on the blogosphere when it was published last summer, and while I didn’t race out and read it, the idea of it settled in the back of my mind. I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk lately, and so I decided to branch out and try new things. Paranormalcy was one of the new things I tried. Readers, I’m glad I did, because this was a really fun book.
Although the book is supernatural in theme and content, it’s also grounded in reality. The character of Evie demonstrates this particularly well. Even though she is at least a little supernatural, Evie’s desire to be a part of the “normal” world is palpable, made all the more real by White’s clear, competent writing. Little details, like Evie’s geeking-out over the concept of a locker or her obsession with a popular TV show featuring beautiful teenagers, help add to the credibility of Evie’s character. White’s ability to create an authentic voice for Evie helps carry the story along. It’s clear that the author knows these characters well, and it’s equally clear that she loves them.
What sets this book apart from other supernatural-themed YA novels is the humor and self-awareness that White brings to the genre. Evie’s snark and her persnickety attitude create for some truly funny passages. Also notable is the fact that White gently subverts the sexy-vampire cliche by having Evie point out (several times) that vampires are corpses. Little details like this make the book stand out. In a sea of books that feature dull, lifeless heroines whose sole purpose is to be saved by their male love interest, White’s debut features a strong heroine who can take care of herself, make out with a cute boy, AND save the world in the process.
Despite a little meandering of the plot about halfway through, White’s novel is fast-paced, fun, and funny. The first in a planned trilogy (with the second title due out at the end of July), this book will leave readers wanting more. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy (especially urban fantasy), but also recommended for fans of YA in general. A surprisingly good read.
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. Harper Teen: 2010. Library copy.