Harper Collins Children's, 2011 (2010)
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, and even worse, that she is at the centre of a dark prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
Paranormal creatures, as Austin Powers might say in an attempt to shamelessly show my age, aren't really my bag. With YA fiction I tend to gravitate towards contemporary stuff, and Paranormalcy promised a whole host of creatures I'm not used to seeing outside an episode of Buffy. But I've been following Kiersten White's blog for a while now, and figured it was time to give Paranormalcy a chance.
I'm glad I did, because there were a lot of things I liked about this book. Evie is a sixteen year old girl who lives at the IPCA headquarters, an organisation who monitor paranormal creatures and detain them, eliminating them as a risk. Evie has the unique talent of being able to see through the 'glamours' of these creatures, and is able to spot them hiding in plain sight. Therefore, she's a huge asset to IPCA, and can barely remember a life before it.
I return to everyone's favourite vampire slayer here, because there are shades of Buffy in Paranormalcy, from the very first page where Evie and a vampire share some witty banter (with Evie successfully completing the 'bag and tag' mission), to the desire on Evie's part to just live a normal life. The overarching story, concerning a fiery villain, some evil faeries, and some kind of prophecy, didn't particularly grab me, if I'm honest - I imagine the whole thing will get fleshed out in the rest of the trilogy, and it felt a little under-explained at times here.
What was more interesting for me was Evie's desire for a little bit of normality, and her developing feelings towards Lend, shapeshifter and boy on a secret mission. This was more familiar territory for me, and was fun (and funny) to read. The writing is fast-paced, light and smart, and I thought Evie's agonising over whether Lend liked her (and whether he would ever hold her hand in a non-perilous situation) was spot-on.
One of the blurbs on the back of this copy suggested there was some kind of love triangle, and reading it I was genuinely creeped out by that idea, because Reth - the faerie who constantly pops up where he's least expected (and wanted) - wasn't my idea of a romantic figure. He keeps going on about "filling" Evie, which was both weird and slightly alarming (it might not have been meant sexually, as becomes clear later in the book, but it certainly retained those overtones at the time). He appears in Evie's room unannounced and won't leave her alone, telling her they need to be together and constantly asking her to "dance" with him. Every time he appeared in the book I wanted someone to give him a slap, and I really wasn't comfortable with the idea of him as someone being a romantic choice for Evie. (Since then, I have read a comment somewhere else by Kiersten White saying Reth was never meant as a love interest in this series, which correlates more with the feeling I had when reading it. However, I have seen a lot of chatter on Goodreads where a number of people seem to have conflated "CREEPY STALKER BOY" with "SEXY AND PROTECTIVE", which makes me almost as sad as when one of the girls I teach told me she loved Chris Brown.)
Paranormalcy was a fun, fast read, and appealed to the side of me that liked the high school scenes more than the fighting scenes in Buffy. While the main storyline didn't grab me, Evie was an interesting protagonist and I'd be tempted to tune in for more Evie-and-Lend in the future.
Overall rating: 6.5/10
Book source: Borrowed from the library.