Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White

So... I am back from my trip to Prague, Hamburg, and Amsterdam! Sorry for being rather inactive and not replying to people and stopping by on their WoW posts etc.! I'll be better now that I'm back, I promise. Travelling by train for up to 12 hours on end had its perks though: lots of time to read! I picked up Paranormalcy on my second full day in Prague (turns out books are much cheaper in the Czech Republic than they are in Switzerland...) and finished it in Hamburg.

Released: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Paperback, 335 pages

Description from goodreads:

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.

So much for normal.


Despite working for the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency) and being around paranormals all the time, Evie tries very hard to be a normal teen. Coming out of the foster system and picked up by the IPCA for her ability to see through the glamors of paranormals (for example, seeing the rotten corpse beneath a vampire’s beautiful disguise), she always firmly believed to be fully human. Well, plus that unique ability which makes her IPCA’s greatest asset. Evie was basically raised by IPCA and identifies with her role. She believes that all paranormals need to be registered and contained so that they do not endanger humans. She doesn’t particularly like her job, but thinks she is doing a good thing – plus, it’s basically the only thing she knows.

Evie’s world is turned upside down when she catches an intruder to the institute. Lend, a teen like her, makes her question the IPCA and everything she’s ever believed in. I really enjoyed watching Evie unravel and re-evaluate her life up to then, and the future that expected her at IPCA – and whether she wanted it.

However, apart from Evie’s identity crisis, there is another problem: paranormals all over the world are dying, and no one can figure out the cause. Evie suspects an involvement of the fairies – one of many paranormal species, and one the IPCA uses for quick travelling through fairy-portals without a second thought. Evie believes that they are much more dangerous than IPCA thinks. Also, one fairy in particular – Reth, her sort-of-Ex – keeps bothering her, trying to force a strange warmth unto her and change her in some fundamental way that scares her. Is she herself connected to all the paranormal deaths? And what about those strange dreams she keeps having?

When the IPCA center Evie and her friends live at is attacked, she has to make difficult decisions: follow protocol, or go rogue? Be a threat or a victim? Or is there another way, a way for Evie to be truly normal, highschool sweetheart and all?

The world Kiersten White created in this novel was intriguing and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Evie grow up and question her surroundings and origins. There were a lot of fun moments to lighten up the angst – I loved the snarky dialogue, and for some reason the vampires’ behavior made me crack up a lot. The pace flowed naturally; it felt neither rushed nor sluggish. The info-dump was avoided. I also enjoyed the romance, even though I’m not normally into the cute/fluffy stuff. It was very well done here.

Despite all this, the book didn’t knock me off my socks. It’s a good, solid read, but I somehow just didn’t connect as much with the characters as I had hoped. I am curious to see how things pan out in the sequels though, now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. Maybe that was part of the problem: much of the book is more of a build-up for what’s to come now.

Personal thoughts (spoilery):

At first, I found it a bit hard to identify with Evie – she was very girly (her weapon of choice is a pink taser) and very focused on a teen drama TV series. Not the kind of girl I would have chosen to hang out with. She grew on me though, and I realized how lonely she must be – her best friend is a mermaid who cannot leave her water tank, the sort-of-motherfigure she looks up to is actually her boss first and foremost. No wonder she craves the ‘normal’ promised to her by TV serieses and longs to mingle and fit in with other people her age.

Evie isn’t a pushover though, and I loved seeing her struggle and grow on the difficulties thrown in her way. She wants to get out of being other people’s pawn. It was also really interesting to compare her and Vivian in terms of personality and upbringing. I could understand them both and sometimes found it hard to know who to root for. Viv had an edge that I enjoyed a lot.

I really liked Lend, too. He was just so sweet to Evie, and they fit together really well. She can see through everything, and he can appear as whoever he wants (also makes it hard for him to know just who he is, though). He also sees her for what she is. They are evenly matched, and I like that in a love interest.

However, I could have liked Reth more. I don’t know, from what I had heard about the book I had just expected the fairy-part to be set up differently. He wasn’t even really a rival love-interest to me. One the one hand, that was a plus, since I’m not a big fan of love triangles. On the other hand, it made it hard to understand why Evie was drawn to him at the beginning.

In general, I cannot really pinpoint why this book didn’t rock my world. Don’t get me wrong, I mean what I said. It was good, the writing pulled me in, it was fun and cute but also had dark aspects. I had just somehow expected more from the set-up. I’m not sure how much ‘new’ it really adds to the genre. However, I will definitely pick up the sequels because I’m curious about where this is all going.

Have you read Paranormalcy? Did you have similar thoughts about it, or were you completely blown away? Disliked it? Why / why not? I’m really curious about other opinions on this one / the series in general (no spoilers for books 2 and 3 though, please).


  1. I have to say I really loved this book, it was a fast read for me (as it was for you) and the whole Viv thing was a total shock to me, I wasn't expecting it and I can't wait to start reading the others (No i haven't read them yet either -sad face-) I loved your review though, knowing what other people think of books you read is nice.

  2. I really liked this book, mostly because I was intrigued by it. Paranormal mixed with humour is not something I'm used to, and I really liked that in this book. I loved Lend, he was amazing throughout the book! And I liked Evie too, despite her flaws. Even though she's girly, she's not afraid to kick some ass ;)

  3. I read this book a while ago. I thought I really like it. But now reading your review I realize that it didn't stick that much on my mind. So, I think like you said that it was a good book, pretty easy to read, with no so much info-dump, so you can pass through without so much trouble, but it wasn't that exceptional. I really liked the mermaid though, I don't know exactly why, I just did. About Evie... you're right, she's too much of a girly girl for my taste. But, well, it's a good book.

  4. I really enjoyed this book but I felt the same way about Reth. I hate love triangles but I thought Reth would at least be likeable - I found him downright creepy...

    1. Yes!!! Reth was super-creepy >_< and that comes from someone who adores anything with fairies usually! I don't know. If he's kept in the series in the same function, maybe he'll change a bit in the later books and I might like him more...

  5. I've seen this book all over the place recently but haven't read it yet.

  6. Thanks for the review. I think I might relate to Evie, we're both girly! Although I'm not into pink that much. :D

  7. I have read this book and I don't know, I just not in to this book. Usually, this kind of story really intriguing me, but there's something missing in this book. And I'm agree, Reth would be at least more likeable.
    Thanks for your review :)