The title of this post presents you with a sort of impossibility when it comes to actual books. Sure, when you're talking about people, you're not supposed to judge someone just based on his or her looks, but the cover is the first thing you judge a book by, isn't it? I know in these days of ereaders and ebooks, we don't linger over the covers of books the way we would in a book store. And I'm saying that as a person who reads almost everything on my iPad at this point. But I still tend to be attracted to a book based on its cover, even if I'm just browsing through the Kindle store on Amazon.
Which is why I really had no interest in Kiersten White's Paranormalcy at first. I mean, look at that cover! What distinguishes this book from all the other Starcrossed-Entwined-Abandoned-Withered-Everlasting teen paranormal fantasies out there? Nothing, if all you did was check out the cover. Pretty girl, pink gown, dark sky, wind sweeping through her hair, blah, blah, blah. That could easily be a Bella, Grace, or Nora, or any other so-called heroine of today's YA fiction standing there.
But it's not.
It's Evie. And Evie is nothing like those other girls. Sure, she's a teenager longing for family and love and acceptance. But Evie is also genuine and funny and awkward, and she stumbles over herself, and she says the wrong things sometimes, and she just wants to be normal. She's your BFF, your "Let's watch trashy TV and eat popcorn" pal. Oh, and she kicks ass. Evie is a heroine you can really root for.
Ever since she was a little girl, Evie has lived at and worked for the IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency. She has a pretty special power that makes her incredibly valuable to the agency: she can see through any paranormal's glamour, that facade that most people see instead of the actual vampire or hag or whatever. Armed with her taser, Evie can tag and bag just about any wayward paranormal out there. So what if her best friend is a mermaid and the only thing close to a mother that she has is her boss? So what if she doesn't get to go to high school with real kids or get a driver's license or other normal teenage stuff? Evie is comfortable, independent, and good at her job.
But things begin to change rapidly for Evie after a cute teenage shape-shifter named Lend breaks into the IPCA, looking for intel. And someone is out there killing paranormals, too. What does all of this have to do with Evie? She's wondering the same thing. Just as Evie's falling for Lend and trying desperately to stay away from former boyfriend Reth, a seductive, gorgeous faerie, things at the IPCA start to crumble around her. Are the people and creatures of the IPCA, the only family Evie has ever known, really the good guys? How does Lend fit into what's happening around her? And why is Reth stalking her more closely than ever before?
Following Evie through this adventure is like communicating with a friend through Facebook. Her voice, that of a modern teenager struggling to understand herself and her world, is spot-on. Evie's "normal day" may not mirror those of a typical teen, but her self-conscious angst and her "I am totally falling for this guy" innocence make her someone you'd totally want to hang around with. In addition to a terrific narrator, Paranormalcy also offers a terrific cast of unusual yet relatable characters. I see that the sides are already lining up for Team Lend and Team Reth online. But it's the humor that makes this book so special and so different from most of the YA lit that's out there today. When you read most of these paranormal romances, you get the feeling that no one ever smiles or laughs or enjoys life. I laughed out loud more than once while reading Paranormalcy, and I love that Evie doesn't turn sour even in the midst of the worst personal crises she faces. Kiersten White is my new author-hero, a bright light in the dark world of teen lit today. The sequel to Paranormalcy, Supernaturally, comes out at the end of July. If Evie were a real girl, she'd be waiting right next to me in line at the bookstore, totally psyched and squealing excitedly about what adventures await.