Friday, January 28, 2011

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

ParanormalcyParanormalcy by Kiersten White (HarperCollins - HarperTeen) is a neat twist on the many urban fantasies that line the shelves--though perhaps I really need to use the term paranormal, despite the feeling that this is closer to the former term, even if we don't see cities much here.

Evie doesn't know much about where she came from; she was a foster kid who was "adopted" by the International Paranormal Containment Agency when they discovered that she could see past the glamours and tricks used by werewolves, vampires, hags, and other things that go bump in the night. Even though she wishes that she could live the life of a normal teenager, her life revolves around tutoring, the underground IPCA facility where she's just about the only human being, and faerie transports out to bag and tag the paranormals, who will be tracked by the IPCA and kept out of trouble.

Usually, paranormals want to break out, but someone breaks in. Lend is more of a borrower: he's nearly invisible, but he can take on the appearance of others, and does so. No one quite knows why he's at the IPCA facility or what he wants, and only Evie is willing to give him a chance. Before Evie can find out what's going on with the mysterious lend, bigger problems come to the forefront, like the faerie Reth who wants to keep her for his own and an unknown being who's killing paranormals. Only Evie, armed with no more than her supervision, a knife, and "Tasey" (a sparkly pink taser) can unravel everything that's going on.

Evie reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV version) in a good way. It often seems that people think Buffy was all about the quips, and Evie has a few choice ones, but the best part of Buffy was her outlook on the world: it's full of weird things, but she has the tools to combat the bad guys. I also enjoyed how Evie--as Buffy did, in her own way--questions the authorities in her life, and figures out how to proceed when she finds them wanting. Saying that I didn't hate (and sometimes liked) the love interest is a huge compliment, as I never like the love interests, though I did wish for more on the love interest's abilities and how the love interest expressed his abilities, which was ripe for some psychological analysis. The anti-love interest was realistically threatening, and I think the villainy expressed there was an interesting parallel to situations that a lot of teen girls find themselves in. The big bad was more nuanced than many. My big wish? More time with best friend Lish, because I thought that storyline could have been stronger.

At any rate, I found this to be a surprisingly good read, and much more fun that I had expected.

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