Paranormalcy by Kiersten White; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Paranormalcy

Author: Kiersten White

Published: August 31, 2010

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5

Review Sent to HarperTeen*:

Exciting, fascinating, and altogether wonderful, Paranormalcy is bound to be loved by many. Evie shines in her pink boots and zebra print rap dress, but it’s her inability to back down and her vivaciousness that make her impossible to forget. The paranormals in this book seem new and intriguing – an incredible feat of Kiersten White’s, as we’ve heard millions of stories about them already. I have very little doubt that Paranormalcy will surprise readers with its combination of action, romance, teenage problems, mythical creatures, and a whole lot of humor. Honestly, it just makes me happy.

Synopsis: I don’t like this synopsis as much as the one on the back of the book, but unfortunately I don’t have the book handy. This will have to do.

Sixteen-year-old Evie’s job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the Intern…more Sixteen-year-old Evie’s job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone–or something–starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she’s worked hard to help become productive members of society, she’s got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated. [From Goodreads]


First off, holy bleep.

Secondly: I fought like mad for an ARC of this book. Truly. Consequently, my expectations were pretty high, and it didn’t help that every review I read was mostly or totally positive. I entered contest upon contest (and you can read my entry for one of them here). In the end, I have to thank Traveling ARC Tours** for landing me the number one spot.

So, with expectations taller than me and an author I didn’t want to disappoint (because Kiersten rocks), I read the book. And I loved it. Not because the author is a wonderful person or because I wanted to please anyone, but because the book pleased me. It met and, in some cases, exceeded my towering expectations. It was everything I hoped it would be.

I’m not particularly sure why I was immediately certain that I had to have this book, but I fought for it passionately and reaped the very wonderful and pink rewards. Now, um, on to the actual review!

Evie is a very lovable main character. I was very glad that she hardly ever seemed slow to catch onto things (a fault of many characters). It was always a pleasant surprise to figure something out and then have her come to the same realization directly afterward. She’s vivacious and spunky and indubitably a strong person at heart. The relationships she’s formed with the various characters were hardy, even if stressed. I loved that, despite the often dire circumstances, her voice was always light – but not shallow. Light and sensitive and funnily thoughtful. I enjoyed reading from her point of view because I could respect and understand her motives. Her weaknesses were the weaknesses of a teenage girl, and you can’t hold those against anyone.

All of the characters in the book are well-rounded and incredibly real. Some were confusing and hard to grasp onto, but that was clearly the intention. Reth is a particularly fascinating character. He’s a faerie (and Kiersten’s brand of faerie is quite intriguing… and frightening) and shares a mysterious past with Evie. Kiersten holds out the information on said history just long enough for you to really want it, and then gives it to you. She actually does this a lot throughout the book. Anyway, Reth is a very complex person, his motives always shadowed. I could never tell if his words were deceptive or truthful. His very character added a layer of mystery to the plotline, and I was filled with an odd sense of eagerness and dread when he popped up in a scene.

Most people call Reth one of Evie’s “love interests,” but I just don’t see it. I suppose he’s an option, and I’m not saying that there is no possible way Evie could end up with him, but I simply can’t clearly imagine it happening. She doesn’t love him. I think her feelings toward him have more to do with his mystery and the sick power he has over people. It’s quite clear, though, that Evie has a totally different (and healthier) relationship with Lend. (Aren’t you loving these names?)

Lend. Wow. I liked him from the beginning, although his first impression on Evie wasn’t top-notch. He’s a simple character, but that doesn’t make him unrealistic or any less interesting than anyone else. It’s just that his draw is his humanity (irony alert), and his nearly invariable goodness. His, um, state of being is fascinating as well.

One of the things I believe Kiersten did best was the awkwardness, the freshness, the odd feelings, the teenage bits- I felt so easily the weird feelings Evie felt as she got to know Lend. Every minute of it was slightly awkward, but it was also cute. I didn’t cringe on the inside because they simply didn’t do anything really stupid, and I appreciate that. The realms of teenage emotion and “discovery” were perfectly pictured in the book, in my opinion.

The other thing that Kiersten did phenomenally well was settling you into the fantastical world of the book. I loved learning more about the paranormal creatures. She did a fantastic job of making them new again, although we’ve read and heard about all of them before. I felt like I was discovering a whole new world that somehow felt familiar. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience – and I can’t wait to plunge into that world again.

Darn it. This review is getting to be too long. I could go on and on. There’s one more thing I have to touch on, though.

The cleanliness. I have never read a young adult novel this clean, and it was more refreshing than I could even imagine. I am so pleased with this. The even greater part? It’s not disrupting. It doesn’t go against the book’s integrity. The lack of sex and language makes complete sense, and I noticed it only because I appreciated it. The story behind the “Oh bleeps” (which I love. I will probably say, “Holy bleep” a million times in the next year) is cute (and involves Evie’s mermaid friend, Lish).

So, for this and writing a book that has made me feel very happy and satisfied: Thank you, Kiersten! It was worth all the trouble!

Except now I feel like I could bag and tag a hundred vampires if only to read the next book, Supernaturally. I wonder if I could trade in my brother and call him a werewolf. Can I pay in paranormals?

*Thank you SO SO much for the ARC!

**And thank you, Traveling ARC Tours!

7 Responses to “Paranormalcy by Kiersten White; Review”

  1. Oh, man, you make me want to read this book really badly. More than I did before! Is it August 31st yet? 😀

  2. Thanks for this review. I think it's the most thoughtful, well-expressed one I've read so far (and I've read plenty of good ones). Now I'm even more excited!

  3. Great review! I'm so glad you liked it! I have high expectations too, and I was worried. It's good to hear that it's clean too. That's always a plus!

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