Paranormalcy is Kiersten White’s debut novel, a young adult paranormal fantasy published in 2010 by HarperTeen. Paranormalcy debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List and was named one of the Teen Top Ten Reads by the Young Adult Library Services Association for 2011. A film adaptation is also in the works. The second book of the trilogy, Supernaturally, was released in 2011 and the final title, Endlessly, has been announced for release in 2012.
Paranormalcy follows Evelyn, known as Evie for short, a sixteen-year-old girl with the ability to see through any and all glamours. Evie’s never had a family and she’s never led a normal life. Since being found by the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) when she was eight years old, she has helped them capture and contain paranormals such as vampires and werewolves. These paranormals are then tagged with ankle tracers and given a permanent home within the IPCA’s Centers. When paranormals start dying by the masses all over the world, Evie may be the key to solving the mystery—if only everyone will stop long enough to listen to her.
Pretty in pink
This book is very obviously targeted at teenage girls. The protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl with an almost-overwhelming obsession with pink and her favorite teen soap opera. Evie struggles with a large collection of teenaged clichés: problems with authority, questions about her identity, and a deep-seated need for love and acceptance. These issues, cliché as they are, are handled well, and through the book Evie is able to make healthy headway on many fronts. While Evie is a fleshed out character, I do wish she had been given a bit more depth than the clichés allowed. However, this is a young adult novel and the target audience will find Evie relatable, while those of us who are now a bit beyond our teenaged years will be able to find some affection for her. Evie does do a lot of growing throughout the book and, by the end, I found her transformation healthy and fulfilling.
Not another teen book
It would be so easy to write this novel off as another teen soap opera. It’s not. While there is a strong romantic line running through the novel, it is not the driving force of the story. It’s there instead as a way to help Evie learn about herself and achieve significant growth. The writing mechanics here are quite good, with excellent pacing, foreshadowing, and just enough information to keep you guessing and reading. Several moral issues are raised and examined in a way that is both entertaining and enlightening. What I found especially gigglesome was Evie’s growing ability to differentiate between the soap opera world she sees on TV (in the beginning of the book, this is her only view of normal teenage life) and the real world she finds herself in by the end of the novel. If you, like I initially did, pick up this book expecting a silly teen soap like what’s selling so well these days, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Why should you read this book?
Above all, you should read Paranormalcy because it is a fast, fun, entertaining read that will bring a smile to your face. I’m going to steal an analogy from a friend here: if books like The Lord of the Rings or Les Miserables are full meals, this book is a bag of potato chips or a cookie. It’s not something you should read all the time, even if you are a teen girl who loves the color pink, but it is a treat to enjoy. And we all deserve some indulgences once in a while.