Thursday, September 16, 2010

REVIEW: Paranormalcy

I first realized I wanted to read this book several months ago, when I saw the book trailer:

The problem?

The book wasn't out yet.  I had to be patient and wait.  (Apparently I wasn't the only one who objected to this, because in it's first week out, Paranormalcy managed to make it to number seven on the New York Times Children's book list.  Pretty freaken' sweet for a debut author!)

Few But Dear Readers, I hate both those things.  I really wish the world would stop doling out lessons on patience and waiting.  It's annoying.

I want my toys now.

Plus, the longer between realizing that I want to read a book and the time when I actually get my hand on it, the more likely it is that a book will fall into my To Be Read Mountain of Books, AKA Awesome Book Purgatory.

Paranormalcy somehow managed to get a reprieve from Awesome Book Purgatory.  It is not our place to question why or how, but it may be helpful to know that the book arrived to a house where I only had ten or twelve unread books to choose from instead of the regular mountain, so the odds were in its favor.

White, K.  (2010).  Paranormalcy.  New York:  HarperTeen.

335 pages.

Appetizer:  Evie is an ass-kicking, sixteen-year-old, paranormal creature catcher who tags creatures of legend for the International Paranormal Containment Agency.  She is the only person in the world who can see behind all of the paranormal creatures glamours and facades.  She works with a best friend, Lish, a mermaid whose real voice Evie can never hear because she lives in an aquarium and with her insanely handsome ex, a fairy named Reth who, despite breaking up, is still intent on possessing Evie's heart and soul.

She dreams of nothing more than being an ordinary girl, going to an ordinary high school and having a boyfriend.  She'd always assumed that normalcy could be an option if she wanted, but when a strange unknown creature who can appear to be anyone and calls himself Lend is caught trying to break into the agency, she learns that she may be as much of a prisoner as Lend is.

On top of that, paranormals are being killed on a massive scale around the world and nobody knows who is doing it or why.  Evie's new friend Lend may have some clues to what is going on, but can she betray her new friendship for her job or can she find a way to save both Lend and herself?

As is the norm these days, this is the start of a trilogy, but Paranormalcy can stand just fine on its own.  I liked some of the underlying tensions of the book, like how Evie can see who others truly are and doesn't care about appearances, how the book deals with issues of status and feeling othered as Evie learns that not everyone in the agency thinks of her as human and how Evie learns about how while one love interest may try to manipulate her another may build her up with his love.  Some fun themes!

On her blog, Kiersten White mentions her book is something to read after being devastated by Mockingjay.  And truer words were never spoken.  With Paranormalcy, you still get a kick-ass protagonist with a lot less angsty-war-death-suffering-PAIN!-weepiness.  It's definitely a book you can add to your Fun Book Recommendation List.  Or your Humorous Fantasy Recommendation List.  Or your Fun Like Buffy List.  Or your Questions Morality of Killing Paranormal Beasties List.  Or even your Vampire Are Not Sexy Nor Have They Ever Been Ewww! Recommendation List.  Or it can go on you List Name That Is Not as Ridiculously Specific as Shel's List Names List.  Or it can go on all of them!  Yayz!

But it got me thinking about the other strong female protagonists that Evie reminded me of:  Astrid from Rampant and Captain Holly Short from the Artemis Fowl series came to mind.

She definitely has the Buffy Summers vibe, down to being fashion-minded while beating the bad:

Bud, my self-defense and combat skills teacher, was still trying to get me to learn knife fighting.  "Silver knives!  Painful and sometimes deadly to nearly all paranormals!"    
"Tasey!" I countered.  "Hot pink and sparkly!" 
I want a pink and rhinestone taser!  I promise I'll use it wisely.  And by "wisely," I here mean not accidentally tase myself and wet my pants.  Gawd, I hope I wouldn't wet my pants.  That always happens in the Stephanie Plum series.

But I started to wonder what some of these creature catchers would say if they met one another:

Evie:  There are unicorns?  You're lying.

Astrid:  No, I'm not.  They're attacking people.  Clearly we must stop them, even if it does seem morally questionable.

Buffy:  Kill unicorns?
That'll be sad do I slay a unicorn?
Can I use Mr. Pointy?

Astrid:  Ummm, a sword works for me.
See my sword?
Isn't it pretty?
I put a bow on it.

Shel:  It is!  I like that you're holding it at just the right angle to reflect a carnivorous unicorn.  That can't be the best angle to fend off a goring.

Evie:  Lame.  Who are you?  What book/tv show/movie are you from.  Don't lie to me!  I know my pop culture.

Shel:  Lalala.  Guys, can I ride a unicorn now?  I've always wanted to!

Buffy, Umm, have you heard anything that we've said?  Unicorns are dangerous.

Shel:  Oooh, can I keep the unicorn?!  I promise to remember to feed it.

So, I know technically I don't belong in their ass-kicking female protagonist discussion, but I've always wanted to ride a unicorn.  Neil Patrick Harris style:

Dinner Conversation:

"Wait--did you--You just yawned!"  The vampire's arms, raised over his head in the classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides.  He pulled his exaggerated white fangs back behind his lips.  "What, imminent death isn't exciting enough for you?" (p. 1).

"Man, high school must be awesome." I found myself wishing I could be part of a normal drama for once.  Paranormal drama didn't have nearly as much kissing" (p. 10).

"I had been bounced through the foster care system my whole life, until that fateful day when I was eight.  I'd gotten tired of waiting for my newest foster mom to take me to the library, so I decided to go by myself.  I was cutting through a cemetery when a nice-looking man approached me.  He asked if I needed help, and it was like he was two people at once--the nice-looking man and a withered corpse, both there in the same place, the same body.  I screamed bloody murder.  Lucky for me, APCA (the American Paranormal Containment Agency) had been tracking him and stepped in before he could do anything.  When I stared babbling about what he looked like, they took me in.
Turns out my ability to see through paranormals' glamours to what they are underneath is unique.  As in, no other human on Earth can do what I do" (p. 13).

"You bet I'm trouble," I countered with a smile.  Sure, maybe I was flirting, a little.  Could you blame me?  The only guys I ever met were too old, half monsters, living corpses, or immortal creeps.  At least Lend was close to my age, whatever else he was."
"No, you're in trouble" (pp. 34-35).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!!

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