Published 2010 335 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Vampires. Werewolves. Faeries. Shapeshifters.
Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shapeshifter and she’s the only person who can see though paranormals’ glamours, but still. Normal.
Only now paranormals are dying and Evie’s dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She begins to suspect there is a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths, and even worse, that she is at the centre of a dark prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
Paranormalcy is the first novel in a proposed urban fantasy trilogy by Kiersten White. Firmly aimed at the young adult market, Paranormalcy introduces readers to Evie, a 16 year-old girl who works for the IPCA – an international organisation that monitors and neutralises paranormal activity. Evie plays a valuable role within the IPCA, she is the only person in the world who can see through supernatural glamours to view the real paranormal being lurking underneath. The story covers her discovery that she isn’t a human agent of the IPCA but is actually one of the paranormals that they are monitoring, swiftly followed by first-love with a paranormal boy and an escape from the IPCA centre to the outside world. Danger and excitement is provided by the unknown supernatural being that seems to be following Evie, while killing all the immortal and paranormal beings that cross its path.
Paranormalcy has a wide mixture of supernatural beasties beyond vampires. In fact vampires have a fairly low-key role in this story; this is probably because as seen through Evie’s eyes they make a rather unattractive proposition – animated corpses wearing a thin layer of glamour to make them look alive. Faeries are portrayed as their classic tricky selves (with amoral personalities and a lack of interest in human lives which hold no interest and have no value in their world view) and Evie knows to her personal cost just how dangerous faeries can be – although she can’t get any of the adult members of IPCA to believe her fears.
It’s fair to say that Evie doesn’t really like most of the paranormals she comes into contact with (probably because most of them have tried to eat her at some point in the past which may have coloured her judgement) however, her best friend, who also works for IPCA, is a mermaid so she obviously doesn’t dislike all of them. Mostly she doesn’t really think much about what the IPCA might be doing to the paranormals in “neutralises” and then she is shocked when she finds out. This is one of the many things about Evie’s character that just doesn’t really work for me.
On the whole Evie seems really naive and immature – while her character has lived a sheltered life I can’t believe that she never would have attempted to find out more about what was going on at IPCA and formed firmer opinions about it. It’s like she’s been dumbed down for the consumption of teenaged readers but this does a major disservice to the majority of teenagers who may lack life experience but are in no way stupid. Evie’s character stretches disbelief in places when considering that she is well aware of just how dangerous faeries can be, she can’t be bothered to give them proper named commands or watch her words around them – leaving her looking either remarkably cavalier in her attitude or just plain stupid.
For me the problem here might be that Paranormalcy comes across like it was written for younger teenaged aged readers rather than young adults. The story is well paced and its themes of first love combined with supernatural action give it an obvious appeal for female teen readers. However the story lacks the great relationship drama that is usually associated with YA books in this genre and perhaps suffers by comparison to the more darkly dramatic offerings of authors such as P.C & Kirstin Cast, Richelle Mead or Claudia Gray.
All-in-all Paranormalcy is a flirty, fun and fast read. While Evie and Lend’s romance may lack drama, it’s sweeter than chocolate pie… which is plenty sweet enough!
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