It’s time for your two princess bloggers to take on another book. That’s right – the buddy read is back, and after a somewhat disastrous start with us on opposite sides of the princess rating system, we are…back to reading another book that we were about ready to smash. Shall we take a looksies into what book Mandy and Sha will be
arguing reviewing for this buddy read installment?
Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours.
She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
Sha: Meet the first book in a trilogy that promises to delight fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and Teen Wolf. If I threw all three of those shows in a pot and mixed them together I would get a lot of doom and gloom with some snarky wit because otherwise the viewer would be sobbing themselves to sleep every night and who said the undead don’t like a chuckle now and then? Except Paranormalcy is PINK RHINESTONES AND GLITTER AND CUTE BOOOOYS, yes, yes, all caps were very much needed. (If you think I said “pink rhinestones” to make some kind of ironic statement, you would be wrong, because there are literal pink rhinestones. Very frequently.)
Paranormalcy (book one) follows Evie, who lives in the underground tunnels the IPCA calls home. She captures vamps and werewolves and goblins and hags using a pink rhinestoned taser called Tasey (oh no, I spoiled the best part of the book) but whatevvvvvs that’s boring, because what she really likes doing is watching the in-book version of Pretty Little Liars (minus the mystery aspect, so basically just kissing).
If you think that’s a little too Girl Next Door, whoa, hold on: hardly past chapter one, you’re greeted with a boy who is made of water (????) who breaks into the IPCA and Evie just can’t stay away from and a woman made of fire (okay, this is a little too fire and ice for me) who’s prancing around killing everyone. Not to mention everyone keeps repeating the lamest poetry ever. “Eyes like pools of melting snow.” They dream about it. They say it in unison. Like, please, if you’re going to crack dramatic lines like this, make them better?
Let’s unravel this and figure out if this book is all salt or a little sweet!
Rate Me Up, Scotty
Sha: Never have I ever skimmed a book so hard. Okay, maybe about 40% of my class readings. But YA lit-wise? My eyes were soaring across the pages like a bird that just found its wings. I. Could not. Finish fast enough. From me, one star.
Mandy: As Sha continuously reminded me, I was the one that brought this book upon both of our book lives, and back in the day, I used to loveeeeeeee this. I thought it was hilarious, it gave me book goals to have my own taser with a wondrous name, and made me see that paranormal books were the root of me living my best book life…in 2008. However, reread time? I’m 100% with Sha, and my skimming game was brilliance. And parts actually got me really upset? Therefore, one crown from moi.
Was it Characters or Caricatures?
Sha: Point of contention number one: who was even a real person in this book? Evie, our MC, was clearly written out to be “that girl who dreams about being a typical teenage girl.” Except one, she’s super weird. And two, her idealization of teenagerdom is way too extreme. She nearly faints when she gets to see high school lockers in person.
Mandy: I definitely agree with Sha. I feel like Evie was every version of a girl discovering a cool supernatural or fantasy world and being OMG, SO COOL, I’M TOTALLY FANGIRLING. LET’S ALL BREAK OUT INTO ARIEL’S JAM AND SING “PART OF YOUR WORLD.” But instead of fangirling over cool new supernatural worlds, she did it with boring soap opera humans (oh, who am I lying, I used to love me some good soap operas.) But still – that was basically her entire characterization. Except she did everything like she was a hyperactive chipmunk? I’m serious when I say that I swear she was on a sugar rush for the entire book and wasn’t even as deep as Lish’s fish tank.
Sha: Don’t even get me started with Lish’s characterization. Lish gets *no* personality. What do I know about her, having finished the book? Well, she’s a mermaid. She was (effectively) the secretary at IPCA. She was Evie’s friend (because she checked in on Evie after she returned from missions … which the secretary would do, tbh). Then there’s Raquel, the woman in charge at the IPCA center … who’s only standout quality was that she … also checked in on Evie after missions?
Mandy: I think the only thing I actually know about Lish is that she’s supposed to be the spunky, supportive friend that is all FEISTY because she pretend curses and wants to hear about cute men. But she didn’t do it, so I don’t actually know what she was.
Sha: Oooh! I forgot about the pretend curses. Could it be because she got about five minutes of page time, even though Evie pledges undying best friendship? And that this minimal page could is due to, hmm… All other pages devoted to the CUTE BOYS in the book?
Mandy: Now that you mention it…
I Will Go Down With This Ship?
Mandy: Okay, I used to be down with this ship. Like, Lend (omg, Lend, like why evennnnnnnnnn that name) and Evie were the feels. The feely feels. The feels of my feels. But now? I loathe them. There was zero chemistry. I was too focused on his name, and how stupid she was being. I mean, the man just pops in with this weird shimmery body, and tries to tell you ~important~ things, and she’s all like, TAKE ME AWAY TO THE LAND OF LOCKERS AND CALCULUS BOOKS AND I WILL IGNORE ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL THE STRANGER DANGERS SIGNS.
Oh, did I mention ZERO chemistry or tenison????
Sha: The first time I read this book I spent their entire relationship trying to understand how Lend’s body “looks like water” and “feels like glass” and this time when I read the book I tried to understand. For the first time I understood that Lend is invisible to everyone but Evie, unless he “puts on” a shape. That is how unclear his description is. But in terms of their relationship itself? How about this example: Evie is super excited. Finally, she is going to prom. Lend’s prom, to be exact. She has the hair, the dress. She runs up to his room, all glammed up. She swings open the door. But … he’s just laying on his bed, in his regular clothes, sketching. He doesn’t look up. He simply says, “Take off clothes, put on tux. Takes two minutes.”
This is Evie’s first prom! I think she’s crazy about this high school stuff, but if you actually cared about her, wouldn’t you, I don’t know, get a corsage, gasp when you see how amazing she looks, put in some effort?????
Mandy:…wait, they actually went to prom? Oh bleep. I must have been skinming too hard at that part. Bleeping bleep.
Um, can we talk about Reth for a few seconds here? Because I have so many thoughts about this, and he’s somehow still a contender for a love interest even though he was creepy as bleep, a total predator, and no one does a single thing about his creepy fairy self?
Sha: Oh, yes. Prom happened. And then Love Interest Number Two shows up and insists once more that Evie “let him fill her.” Oh, darns, did we not hash that creepness out yet?
Mandy: His storyline made me feel SO uncomfortable. Evie constantly talks about how much he creeps her out to all of her superiors, and guess what! They do nothing, and he just magically appears over and over and over again. He basically kidnaps her and locks her in his…hut? IDK, fairy house. Anyway, he locks her in there, she panics, and has to get some other fairy to come and get her – and what does Reth get? Literally no repercussions besides a strongly worded order to stay away from her. He felt like a slimey, creeptastic predator – oh, because he was – and he apparently is still around in the third book. He made me very upset with the stupid phrases that Sha mentioned above and so much more, and I still don’t know why we had to have him around sooooooooo much. Tell me I’m not alone in this, Sha.
Sha: You’re not alone for a second. I like to believe that this book would not have survived published in 2018. The amount of not-okay that Reth exudes (while apparently being pegged a love interest??) is uncomfortable at best.
The Plot Thickens, Curdles, and Goes Sour…or was that the milk?
Sha: The plot in this book moves faster than me when I’m driving and I panic because even though it’s a forty zone and I’m GOING FORTY GODDAMMIT the person behind me is riding my bumper so I inch up to fifty and still it’s NOT ENOUGH??? so then I’m flying at seventy and holy shit may there be no cops. That is the one thing and one thing only you need to know about this book. Because one second you’re cracking open the book and it’s all, hello, I’m Evie, welcome to chapter one. And the next you’re knee deep in evil fairies and hags and fire people and water shape-shifters and a prom and nothing makes any sense but you’re there.
Mandy: I remember there is this one scene in the novel where someone important literally gets stabbed in the neck. Like, FATALLY stabbed in the neck, and it’s all like :O and OMG, and all of a sudden, the character just gets up, walks over to some other people, the chapter ends, and we never talk about the neck stabbing again. I feel like there was so much time focusing on how much Evie liked pink, her soap opera, and wanted to caress a locker, and major, major, MAJOR plot points got two seconds of screentime.
Sha: Can I just preach this a thousand times over? Literally, there is a fire woman running around killing hundreds of paranormals and Evie is spending her time thinking about how cute Lend is.
The Write Way
Mandy: White has obviously made a big name for herself with her book, And I Darken, and I have to believe her writing gets better with time. I will say that the thing that I absolutely did enjoy was the mythology. I thought it was fun and quirky and it was just this brand new concept of having some sort of FBI agency for paranormal creatures. I still standby this as one of the coolest concepts that I’ve seen in YA.
Sha: I sob at the thought of how great this premise is. I really do like agents hiding in the shadows to protect citizens from the dangers of the paranormal world. But Evie’s character was not the one to tell that story. She was just too childish and obsessed with boys.
Mandy: My very first comment to Sha once starting this book was why did we have to have every man’s cuteness described to us. Literally, any male character pops onto the book scene? We had to have a comment – or a PARAGRAPH – letting us know whether or not he was cute or not. I DON’T CARE IF THE JANITOR VAMPIRE WAS CUTE. I JUST WANTED TO GET TO THE PLOT.
The Conclusion of All Conclusions
Sha: Alright, so this review clearly was not a positive one. White had some ups with this book. Agents who protect people from the paranormal world? Cool. The idea that there is a resistance that *also* helps people and paranormals? Equally cool. But this book was just very underdeveloped. Way too much time was spent on Lend and Evie, to the point that any actual plot was put on the backburner. If this review sounded like it just talked about romance and sometimes a rando fire woman… that’s kinda how the book read? I ended this first book feeling like it was actually just the first part of a two part episode: as in, all the pieces were set up, but the writers refused to give any actual answers. Super frustrating!
Mandy: Sha said it so brilliantly: the book is basically about romance and rando fire woman, and there was just nothing else to it besides some serious locker envy and discussion of hot pink things. This story had potential to be something great and funny and fresh, but instead it was random hyper chipmunk that gave me a predator and a bland love interest. It made me uncomfortable and not feeling a single thing for anything. Definitely would not recommend – also, Sha, we really need to stop ruining our childhood favorites. We’re crushing them very valiantly…or at least I am.