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White, "Paranormalcy" (reviewed by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury) Options · View
Posted: Monday, January 31, 2011 9:25:09 PM

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Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA fantasy fiction
Year Published: 2010
Number of Pages: 352
Binding: Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0061985848
ISBN-13: 978-0061985843
Price: $16.99

Reviewed by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury for the Association for Mormon Letters

This book is well-written, with strong characters, and a self-centered, anxiety-ridden first person point of view character who admits that she's self-centered and anxiety-ridden, and who works on that, and actually does grow through the course of the book. The author has this teenager nailed.

So, is it fair to be disappointed that a book doesn't resolve more at the end? I realize that there is a sequel (in fact, there appear to be at least two more books in the works), but this ends with more despair than hope, even though the "story arc" for this installment is resolved.

Sixteen-year-old Evie has been working for the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency) since she was "discovered" at age eight. Those who work for the IPCA travel about with the "help" of amoral and apathetic fairies who can open "doors" to anywhere, and who are more or less enslaved by IPCA agents because someone was able to learn each fairy's secret name and thus command them.

Evie has learned that the fairies are passive-aggressive and interpret the commands the way they want to interpret them, but her boss, Raquel, who is a kind of mother-figure to Evie, but who communicates most of the time with a variety of sighs, will not believe Evie or listen to her complaints about a particular fairy with whom Evie has broken off a kind of love relationship.

This reader could never figure out how Evie, who through much of the book did not seem particularly quick on the uptake, was able to figure out that the relationship with the fairy was not good for her, especially since Raquel didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with an ageless "paranormal" pursuing a teenager. In fact, the exact nature of the relationship is unclear. It seemed as if the book started in the wrong place because that whole past of the story is "told" and not very well.

And if that wasn't creepy enough, let's go back to the child-labor situation in the book. Evie is supposed to go out into the world and "bag and tag" paranormals with her pink taser. She can do this because she can see past any paranormal "glamour" and recognize paranormals, and she's the only one in the world who can. So she tackles vampires and werewolves and other kinds of legendary and/or magical creatures who are part of Evie's world.

But someone is killing paranormals, including people Evie considers her friends, and Evie, who doesn't think of herself as a paranormal (until she finds out that the IPCA considers her one), is also in danger.

The mystery of who is killing paranormals is solved, and that problem is "fixed." It's really only a part of a larger problem that adds to the anxiety that is riding Evie. When she finds out who and what she is--as she supposes--it's downright depressing. I just wish there had been more hope and less cliff-hanger at the end of this segment of the series (or trilogy, or whatever it is going to turn out to be).

It isn't enough, for this reader, anyway, to remind myself that Evie has got to stop believing everything everyone tells her. Some of it may be correct, but a lot of it turns out not to be. I liked the story, but I'm sorry I just can't rave about it the way I've been hearing some people rave. I'm just not holding out much hope that things will be more hopeful in the second book, when it's at best only the middle of the series. (And yes, I'm sighing. Just like Raquel.)
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