Paranormalcy (by Kiersten White)

30 08 2012

The cat is not a paranormal buff, so when she does pick up something paranormal – consciously that is – it better be something else entirely. Kiersten White’s 2010 debut Paranormalcy came with a lot of buzz from other paranormal and/or urban fantasy YA authors, such as Becca Fitzpatrick, Lisa McMann and Aprilynne Pike… ultimately resulting in a mega-hype landing her a #7 debut on the New York Times best seller list. Now *that’s* what publicizing a book means. But, ok, so, just to make things clear: buzz + hype ≠ instant cat success.  Quite the opposite, books that heavily hyped hardly every live up to said hype and Paranormalcy is no exception.

16-year-old Evie is a member of IPCA – International Paranormal Containment Agency. This is pretty much an MIB type of agency that operates to ‘neuter’ (neutralize) all sorts of paranormals, like vampires, werewolves, faeries (ex-boyfriend Reth is one), mermaids (BFF Lish) etc. Evie comes in ultra-handy for this agency, because not only is she an orphan (so not to be missed by anyone), she’s also the one and only human who can see through the paranormals’ glamors, so she can spot even illusive shape shifters (Lend, current love interest), or waternymphs or whatever other paranormal creatures are out there. Besides being a Buffy, Evie is also just a girl who likes pink, TV drama and boys, and who wants to have the whole teen experience and who feels sort of lonely all the time – though she doesn’t know that herself, until the love interest Lend points this out to her.

What the cat didn’t like:

  • The main baddie, as in there really isn’t one, or at least she’s not very scary. So she sucks your soul out?
  • The lack of conflict: all they seem to do is run around from compound, to meeting, to dream, to compound, and back again pondering about “there’s a bad guy out there killing :::gasp::: paranormals”, rather than getting to work already…
  • The wannabe funny talk. I’m sorry but Evie ain’t no Buffy and Kiersten White sure as hell ain’t no Joss Whedon! A lot of reviewers praise Evie for being “a different sort of paranormal fantasy protagonist”, mainly because of how witty and funny she supposedly is, but she just … isn’t… there was just a whole lot of emptiness to the babbling going on, and not even as a ‘coping mechanism’, which humor often turns out to be in these ‘I’m all alone and so unique and no one understands me’ type of tales. Again, no Buffy here.

I have no idea whether it was intentional to name Evie’s best friend ‘Lish’ (btw, what was that all about: BFF is randomly killed off and then that’s that? No feelings about it? Ok, then…), but if you really want a ‘refreshing paranormal story’,  then Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer Necromancer is a much better candidate.  Now there’s a story which does have that Buffy-vibe so much more than Paranormalcy could ever hope to have.  Not that we want our Paranormal stories to be Buffy of course…well, not all the time, anyway.

Anyway what didn’t work for the cat may work for you (this is sooooo not my book!), if you like all that innocent ‘paranormals are amongst us’ babble.  To make matters even worse, though, this is the first part of a trilogy, so this urban fantasy, paranormal romance shtick is getting milked for another 2 books!



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