November 17, 2010

Paranormalcy: In A Nutshell (and Giveaway!)

As part of the Fall into Fantasy event hosted by The Bookish Type, I am reviewing Paranormalcy by Kiersten White and giving a copy away!

Evie just wants to be normal. High school, lockers, prom, driver's license, boyfriend — she wants it all. What she's got instead: a life at the Center bagging-and-tagging paranormal beings, thanks to her little knack for seeing through glamours.

Still, all things considered she's pretty content until some weird things start happening. An "invisible" guy, able to take on the appearance of anyone he wants to, shows up at the Center, looking for answers but not giving many. Then there's the faerie who Evie is convinced wants to have her heart and soul for his own.

And when a suspicious slew of paranormal killings start happening, Evie finds out some things she never knew about the Center, and even more she never knew about herself...

One sentence sum-up: Take a girl, give her an ability to see through glamours, add a bunch of mysterious and sinister happenings, a host of good and not-so-good paranormal beings, and the typical teenage need for normality...and you have Paranormalcy.

My reaction: This book was just plain fun, there's no two ways about it. Frankly I was a little dubious beforehand that it would actually be my kind of book, but I heard so many positive things about it that I decided to give it a try...and I'm so glad I was proven wrong!

Evie has a bright, appealing personality — she's not much like me, but that was okay, because she felt more like a fun friend to hang out with. It only took a few chapters before I was into her story and rooting for her! There was no shortage of action and adventure, humour, mystery, and even a little romance. After all the dark, brooding, formulaic YA paranormal books, Paranormalcy was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Best aspect: Oh, tough to choose...I was impressed with White's cast of characters, many of them having very distinctive personalities without falling prey to stereotypes (well, except for ones that were clearly meant to be stereotyped, like stupid vampires).

I must mention the faerie Reth here because he deserves it. I really liked his character for some reason, and I spent most of the book trying to figure out why. He does some very selfish, callous things to get what he wants, and I kept thinking that I really shouldn't be leaning towards him...but I could see the potential in him to be good. And at the same time, I liked that he was such a wild card! You couldn't predict how Reth would react, and he's extremely smart and tricky in always looking for that loophole. Just generally, actually, I enjoyed White's depiction of faeries — their self-centered motives, their dislike of being commanded, and their creative interpretations of instructions. The whole concept of the power of names was used to great effect here.

Honourable mention goes to Lish, who seemed like a really endearing character that I wish we could have seen more of! Loved the paragraph where every other word she says is "bleep," because her translator is censoring her. Also, spoilery bit: I was really surprised that the author killed her off! Paranormalcy is light in a lot of ways, but I was glad to see White didn't shy away from showing that murkier, edgier side in giving Vivian's actions weight and repercussions, and making Lish pay for it. That said, it was kind of depressing to know that Lish wouldn't be back.

Also, I appreciated that the world White built enabled her to use so many different types of paranormal beings and have the whole thing make sense. There is an international agency aware of the existence of paranormals, and this organization works to neutralize them, so it doesn't make the reader roll their eyes to have faeries, werewolves, vampires, and mermaids all together in the same book.
If I could change something... Well, personally I didn't feel too much chemistry between Evie and the guy she picks. They start out as friends and then very gradually it progresses to romance, so maybe that's why. He starts out as intriguing, but then once Evie befriends him he turns very sweet and a little bland compared to some of the other characters. Plus I felt like Evie was either trying to convince herself, or White was trying to convince the reader, that Evie was in love with him and they were meant to be it didn't feel so natural. So maybe a little less "telling" about Evie's feelings, and a little more "showing" would have helped this.

Also, there were a couple of lingering questions I had about the ending. Spoilers, highlight to read: Why could Evie not take the souls from Vivian the first time? What made her "want" it more the second time? And how did she know how to float up and open the gate in the sky to release the souls? That all seemed to happen pretty quickly/easily.

Hopes for the sequel? We haven't been shown the Seelie and Unseelie courts yet, and I wasn't totally sure about the use of that traditional faerie divide, since in so many other ways Paranormalcy strays from typical fantasy. I'm interested to see White's take on this, because I really enjoyed her portrayal of the faeries in this book, so I'm hoping we'll get to learn more in her next one Supernaturally.

Also, I want to know more about a certain topic that's a little spoilery: I'd like to see more dealing with Evie's need for the souls, and her destiny (Reth was dropping some obscure hints at the end there that should definitely be followed up on...) Evie seemed almost addicted to the souls in this one, and I really liked seeing that dark side introduced.

In five words or less: an inventive, clever, adventure-filled escape.


"But, yes, I have a driver's license."

I leaned back against the wall, sighing. "Man, that must be so cool."

"It ranks right up there with lockers. In fact, sometimes I put my license inside my locker, and it's so cool I worry that the whole thing might explode with the sheer coolness of it all."

Recommend for: anyone who likes a creative, fun story! Even if you don't like typical paranormal books (I am not a huge vampire fan, for instance) you should give this one a shot. In some ways it reminds me of Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall or some of Meg Cabot's paranormal books, so fans of those might especially enjoy Paranormalcy.

Final verdict: 4.5 shooting stars. Read it and bleep.

Author's website:

And now...the giveaway...

I am giving away a copy of Paranormalcy from the Book Depository, so this contest is international (as long as the Book Depo ships to you — for the full list of countries it ships to, go here). This contest is open until November 30, 2010 at midnight PST. I'll e-mail the winner and they will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

To keep things really simple, there's just one entry per person (no fancy extra entries) and it is not mandatory to be a follower (though of course, it is always appreciated!)

Contest now closed.


  1. Thanks for the giveaway! I want so much to read this book! =)

    You have a new follower!

  2. Fantastic review! I've only just started this one, but I'm totally in love with it already. I like that you compare it to Hex Hall and Meg Cabot - I can definitely see that! And I love both Hawkins and Cabot =)

  3. I loved this book! Something about Reth drew me in, too. I couldn't figure it out. I knew I was SUPPOSED to be rooting for Lend, but I just liked Reth too much. I still can't figure out why, either!

  4. I loved this book too for all of the reasons that you stated. Such a fresh outlook at the overdone paranormal romance genre!

  5. This book sounds really great, I heard a lot of good things about it!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. I agree: it's nice to read a paranormal book that's fun every once in a while instead of dark and brooding all the time.

  7. Great review! I liked your one sentence synopsis. My daughters would love this.

    Your Dad directed me to your site. Neat stuff!

  8. @Casey: I thought you would enjoy it!

    @Melissa: I know, I felt the same way about Reth. Something about him was just really appealing :D

    @Myles: Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Thank you for the awesome giveaway, Danya! I've yet to read Paranormalcy and I'm so excited for it!

  10. Awesome giveaway! I've been dying to get this book!!!

  11. Thanks for this giveaway! And great blog you have here! :)

  12. Thanks for doing such a nice, simple giveaway. (And great review, too.) You just gained another follower. I'm crossing my fingers!

  13. Great review. It took me lke 2or 3 days to finish this. I loved it and it definietly had a different out look on things which is always refreshing.


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