Sometimes on this here blog, we have arguments – behind the scenes arguments about who gets to review a certain book. Normally it’s first dibs – she who claims it gets it. But sometimes there’s pouting. And whining. And begging. And, ok, maybe bribing. Which is exactly what happened with Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. So today three of us are here to talk about how much we loved this exceedingly fun and well-written book.
Caitlin: I’m not sure where or when or how I first heard of this book. My first memory of being aware of it was one day, on twitter, where the whole YA community was abuzz about a gorgeous new cover.
And, holy crap, is it gorgeous. When I made my local bookstore employee get me a copy of it from the back she handed it to me and said, “Wow, this is pretty.” To which I replied, “Yes, now give it to me.” And skipped home while making a loud giggling noise.1
But when did that cover admiration become determination to look past the cover and discover the beauty of the pages? I have no idea. The book had buzz everywhere, and while a lot of it was about the cover (I secretly believe other authors had cover-envy) I kept hearing good things about the writing as well. And then I heard the magic words.
Someone compared it to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy defined my adolescence. She is the first fictional character I ever remember looking at and thinking, “I want to be like her.” So, you can imagine, my expectations were pretty darn high for this book. If people were going to compare it to the writing of Joss Whedon (my hero) then it needed to be pretty darn fantastic.
And, holy bleep, I LOVED THIS BOOK.
The author has said that she wrote the book for fun not thinking she would ever attempt at getting it published, and you can tell. It takes the paranormal genre, dresses it up in pink, makes it glitter with bedazzler, and then hands it to the reader and says, “I’m fun, flirty, and awesome. And PINK!” It was such a breath of fresh air, so different from other books in the genre, yet it still clearly belonged with them.
The main thing that had me falling in love with this book was the characters. There were all so fun. There was no brooding or angst-ridden moments of world-ending proportions. What Evie, the main character, wanted more than anything else was a high school locker. Lend, the love interest of the piece, wasn’t a demon hunter on a mission, he was a teenager disobeying his father. And when tragedy did strike, it didn’t kill the humour or the fun. It just emphasized the metaphor apparent throughout all of Evie’s locker obsession. She wanted to be normal, to have a home that wasn’t all metal hallways and werewolves.
All of the characters were so normal even when surrounded by vampires, faeries, werewolves, mermaids, etc. Normal yet entertaining and engaging. And I could go on for years about why this book should be your next read but I know Kate and Katie want their chance to sing its praises as well, so I shall let them take it from here.
But really, read this book. You won’t regret it.
Katie : Despite being an East Coast Southern girl since the womb, I have a penchant for bubbly blond carefree “Valley Girl”-esque female characters. I blame coming into adolescence in the age of Clueless and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also adore the dichotomy of the seemingly insipid and static character having/discovering a steel spine. Evie in Paranormalcy filled that need to a T. Quick to quip, shop, and taser the paranormal baddies with her pink glitter “Tasey” she’s the classic case of showing how a girly-girl can still do some serious damage.
Throughout the novel, Evie and the reader slowly unravel all the mysteries surrounding her that she was formally unaware of- how is she human within the International Paranormal Containment Agency when she has paranormal abilities? Should her perspective on vamps/werewolves/fairies/hags/etc = bad remain the same if she learns she too might be an “other?” And most importantly, is shape changing Lend’s face as hot in real life as he projects to the world?
I very much enjoyed Parnormalcy, it delved into deeper topics than the beginning led me to believe and allowed character that could easily remain flat to come to life. Evie’s deep and abiding need to be a real girl, while presented in humorous ways- read an obsession with lockers- symbolized a much deeper issue such as her loneliness and need to find a place in the world. Her relationship with Lend had a nice leisurely slow build that felt genuine and not at all forced. Often times I have issue with couples falling in love too quickly and without reason. Lend and Evie were flirty friends for long enough that when they came together I fully believed it. Best of all for me, Evie was still a little bit Cher and a little bit Buffy at the end- she lost and survived quite a feat and still she kept her sense of humor and an innate frivolity that drew me to her from the get-go. I mean really, what girl wouldn’t want a pink sparkly taser?
Kate: Pink is my least favorite color. I hate it. It’s irrational, but I do. So for me to love a book where the main character has bedazzled her taser says something about the quality of the writing and the strength of the story. At times the book felt young, but, as my husband so helpfully reminded me, that has a lot more to do with the fact that I’m starting to get old. I liked Raquel a lot, much like I fell in love with Charlotte in Clockwork Angel, because it was nice to have a character who was a little older who didn’t seem quite like a parent.
My very favorite thing about Paranormalcy was that it was funny. YA books just don’t make people laugh all that much anymore. There’s either a lot of intense brooding or some serious snark, but no just straight-up giggle moments. Evie, though, was hysterical. I loved her. The book had plenty of serious moments, true (very, very true), but the heart of it felt more fun than anything I’ve read in a long time. It’s so nice to see a YA heroine with a sense of humor.
I also loved Lend and Evie’s relationship. I could see why they liked each other and I could see them grow into it, which was so refreshing. And, more than that, the “other guy” had a story too. He was evil and gross, but we knew why he was evil and gross. Reth creeped me out, but he creeped me out in the way I imagine a teenage girl SHOULD react to some crazy old immortal creature who stalks her in her bedroom. It was nice that, for once, the romanticizing of the possessive, domineering behavior didn’t happen. Because Reth is a jerk. A big one. And the way I hated him was one of my other favorite things about this book – no love triangle. No love triangle! It’s almost unthinkable now, but it worked perfectly in Paranormalcy.
What made this book so perfect was that it went deeper than a funny, sort of romantic romp. The serious moments said something. The way Evie thought about Reth said something about what it’s like to not be in control of your emotions and how weak that makes you feel. And the villian, which I won’t spoil…it was perfection. The fact that a YA book had me contemplating nature versus nurture said a lot about how awesome Paranormalcy is.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you gasp. It’ll make you turn pages faster than you thought you could. It’ll make you burn your cookies because you were so caught up in the end that you forgot the oven was on. And, most of all, it will surprise you and make you think.
1 This might be an exaggeration. I do seem to have odd memories of being in a car with my seat-belt on. But the giggling definitely happened. I think.