Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Mermaids and werewolves and vampires and faeries and hags and shape-shifters and waterspirits, if you can name a paranormal, I'm sure they are at least mentioned in Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

This book rocked my socks off! It's soooo very awesome! It's so awesome, in fact, that I'm sorry it took me two years to read it, so awesome in fact that I'm sorry I don't have the second book right now!

This is one of those cool books that on the surface seems like a cute romp into paranormal land, but is actually a commentary on discrimination, service and relationships.

Evie is seriously that perfect female heroine that I've been looking for when I read teen SF books. She's so girly (pink and animal print are incorporated into everything she wears), but she can also kick major butt using her pink rhinestone encrusted taser, nicknamed Tasy, of course. She falls for a shape-shifter and has doubts, but not the whiny (sorry, I'm about to compare her to two teen girls who annoy the dickens out of me) "I can't live without you" doubts of Bella Swan or "the too tough too touch me blocked-headedness" of Katniss Everdeen. Evie is the rock-star of these girls.

While the plot of this book is not new, the approach is. And, don't let the cover fool you, this book isn't at all fluffy and girly (unless you want to count Evie's pink heeled boots). In the world of Paranormalcy there are humans who know that paranormals exist these humans have taken it upon themselves to defend the world against these creatures and have created an agency to do this. Evie is part of this agency. After she meets a shape-shifting teenage boy, much like herself, she begins to wonder where she fits into the whole thing. Is she trapped? Is she a pawn? Is she an asset? And, most importantly, what does she want?

This book is told with enough humor and seriousness that I found myself laughing seconds after a sad event and I found myself sharing bits of this book to my student in the hallways and at lunch.

It's another one of those books that makes me wish I could have read it when I was 14 and it's another one of those books that I can't wait for my daughter to find.

5 Stars

Teacher Advisories
Sex 1/5 
There are also some nice steamy kisses, embraces and long kiss scenes. Really teen books have the best kissing scenes! A faerie named Reth inappropriately touches Evie all the time, even after you figure out it's still kind of creepy and a little bit pervy.
Language 1/5
I love, love, love when an author uses a fake word in the place of an expletive. Norman Mailer did it with the word 'fug' and Kiersten White does it with *bleep*, it's funny, your kids will love it...I found myself doing it at home. It sure beats cussing!!!
Substance Abuses 0/5
Unless you count getting totally intoxicated on someone's soul...than I bump it up to a 1/5.
Violence 2/5
So, the IPCA fights paranormals. One vamp decides he'd rather die than be confined. A strange creature is going around killing paranormals lots of werewolves and vampires die. A hag dies, a mermaid dies, a werewolf dies, some of the creatures that die we get to know and that's sad...there's lots of violent death.

Touchy Subjects

Slavery and Indentured Servitude
While this is truly a fun teen paranormal romp there are several grown-up and timely themes. IPCA decides who's bad, IPCA locks up and classifies those who are bad, Evie must then decide if who's right. While Evie is deciding if she's actually just a pawn in a game where every side sucks the life out of the other, we must also decide what it means to be truly free. Paranormals are neutered, neutralized and locked up. They are let out only to serve IPCA.
Evie comes from foster homes and has no parents. Raquel takes care of her, but she isn't really a mother per se. Lend's family is everything she desires, but they still have their flaws. Vivian has a family, but have they taught her to be what she is.
What does it mean to be normal? And, doesn't normal come in many different forms.
Inter (racial ?) relationships
Paranormals date, marry and have children with mortals sometimes to the chagrin and disappoint of their family and friends. These relationships can be seen as allegorical to interracial relationships, and we can see the wonderfulness, but also the troubles that people have when they are in relationships that are defined by society.

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option
2] Websites
Author's website

Questions for Discussion (from here)
1. It has been said that the book speaks in metaphors regarding issues such as animal rights,  human rights and slavery. Would you agree with this and why? Support your answer using details from the book.
2. Evie’s relationship with Raquel is similar to a mother/daughter relationship. Would you have liked to see their relationship end differently than the way it did? Explain your answer.
3. If you could meet any type of paranormal from the book which would you choose? Why?

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