The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

All About Evie (review: Paranormalcy; K. White)

Kiersten White
Harper Teen 2010
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, 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 shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal. Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. 
(blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

Every review I've read for Paranormalcy has used words like “refreshing” and “original” and while I'd love to say something entirely new, inspired and clever, all those reviewers kind of nailed it. Paranormalcy is like some weird hybrid of Men in Black and Buffy with a touch of Artemis Fowl thrown in for good measure (think the fairy police plaza and the LEP). It is certainly original and more than a little refreshing, its memorable characters standing out from the sullen-yet-sexy vampires, toothy-yet-tortured werewolves and more friendly-than-fearsome Fae that so often stalk the halls of the paranormal genre.

There is no other way to describe protagonist Evie than just Kick. Ass. In her work with the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) she's seen just about everything and has a fantastically laissez-faire attitude to her job, which on any given day can mean posing as bait for vampires or tracking down rogue werewolves. She seems to fly through her life with a sunny attitude, a good deal of guts and her faithful tazer (which is pink and has its own name). Yet she also has a lonely air about her. Never having attended high school, she spends a lot of time watching a teen soap opera (blatantly and hilariously a mix of Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill) and trying to imagine life in the normal world. It makes her a very sympathetic character and one who is easy to like. Her actions throughout the course of the book made complete sense to me, despite them being often impulsive – she's just a teenage girl trying to get by in her own bumbling way. With the help of some fabulous boots, natch.

Love interest Lend was also very likable. To be honest, I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to connect with him at first as he has no discernible appearance of his own and can adopt whatever face he fancies, whenever he fancies it (including Evie's herself). It is testament to the writing that he is, despite this, a very well defined character whose relationship with Evie is both sweet and believable. For once, there is no massively rushed romance, no instant declarations of love – it all feels a lot more like a realistic teen romance. Lend is definitely a cutie; he even watches her crappy TV show and understands her attachment to Tasey (that's the tazer – I wasn't joking about the name).

As far as villains go I'm not going to say much as it would completely ruin the story for those of you who haven't read it. However, I was incredibly impressed with the author's portrayal of faeries. Faeries are often described as confusing, conniving, manipulative and skilled at lying yet they are almost always written with a distinct lack of subtlety, coming across as entirely bad or entirely good. Too many times have I seen faeries clumsily (or otherwise) re-imagined to suit an author's story. Not in Paranormalcy – here the fairies are completely and utterly inscrutable! And it's fabulous! Often I had no idea what they were going on about, they made little sense to anyone in the story other than themselves and their motivations were always completely unclear. Exactly as they should be! Woo hoo for completely obtuse faeries! It made Evie's ex Reth particularly awesome and also pretty frightening. I really had no idea what he was trying to do to Evie and despite her demanding repeatedly to be told he persists in answering her in riddles, half-truths and nonsense – seemingly for his own amusement. I loved it and would like to see Faeries portrayed like this more often.

So yes, all those other reviewers were right about the whole refreshing and original thing. With a strong premise and exciting plot (which I can't elaborate on without spoilers), Kiersten White is onto a winner with this series. Paranormalcy is not only refreshing and original, it is fun, pacy and really doesn't take itself too seriously, managing to tell a pretty exciting story while never losing sight of it's heart. Certainly Kiersten White is a fresh new face on the paranormal block and you should most certainly give her fantastic debut a shot.


Manda said…
Right. This review has convinced me. Enough picking it up and putting it down when browsing in bookstores. I'm going to buy it. :-)
Ahh.. your review makes me even more excited and impatient to read this book!
This one has also been on my to-be-read list for the longest time now. I think it's time I shifted my reading priorities and put this higher up in my reading pile list. Another sterlingly fantastic review from you as always!
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