Lissa's Reviews > Paranormalcy

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
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May 01, 2011

bookshelves: 2011

I wanted this book ever since I started following White on Twitter and her blog. I love her to bits. She's totally fun and awesome and I believed that voice would be present in her book. I was right.

But I'm torn.

Either Kiersten White is the first author ever to completely and utterly nail the teenage girl voice, or she's not quite a master storyteller yet.

Allow me to elaborate.

Evie is neither clever nor stupid. Her personality is full of loving pink, zebra patterns, pop culture, and boys. She has by far the strongest teenage voice I have ever encountered.

The thing is, Evie doesn't think. I mean... she thinks, obviously, about stuff, but she never connects motivations as she’s telling the story. None of the characters in this book has any motivation explained, no finer details looked at. I understand larger motivations that propel the story, and even why the antagonist is doing what they are doing: the big motivations are there. But the narrative lacks details to explain anything fine. All of a sudden Evie starts shouting when there is no indication her emotions are heating up. When someone puts away their medical supplies there is no indication he tosses them aside or carefully packs them away. A character randomly shows up and then disappears again with no reason given for how they found their way or even what they’re doing there. Individual characters have no motivation to do anything normal and every day that doesn’t propel the plot forward. And this is in direct contrast to details about Raquel who's main characteristic is decipherable sighing. And I'm not entirely sure if it's because so much of this book is telling me, not showing me.

Quite honestly, this book just didn't flow well. It isn't seamless. It read like fanfiction written by a sixteen year old - suddenly my character needs to be in this place so I'll make up some reason for her to go there for like 2 pages, then I need to get her back here so she'll come back here for no reason... and I've read some really great fiction by sixteen year olds. And the thing is, there was plenty of other descriptions in other places of the novel - like what a paranormal looks like under their glamour. So I'm totally confused as to whether this writing style is to be encouraged and applauded or if White just isn't quite there yet.

And you know the annoying thing? White manages to break two major (I MEAN MAJOR) debut novel rules that every single freaking agent and editor out there are telling us aspiring authors NOT to do: begin a novel with someone talking (and someone who's not even the protagonist) and doing an awful lot of telling, not showing. Sure, everyone always says SHOW DON'T TELL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I WILL KILL THIS KITTEN IF YOU TELL ME ANYTHING but honestly, you need to find a fine balance between telling and showing. All showing is just as stupid as all telling. But for the first half of the novel, I was being told an awful lot. Not like info-dumping, but just actions and reactions and I just wanted more detail.

And it was so freaking awesome to read about a girl who’s actually interested in boys in general. You know how most YA books are about a girl who moves to a new school and she’s never been interested in boys before she meets THE ONE? That’s not Evie. She wants a boyfriend. She’s lonely. I love that she’s a girly-girl and I love that she is boy crazy. She reminded me so much of some of my friends when I was a teenager, which is a credit to White. It brought back a lot of memories.

Evie herself more than makes up for the weird lack of seamlessness, which sorts itself after the first half of the book anyway. I laughed out loud at White’s humour. This novel is cute and light and funny and entertaining, and I want the sequel, Supernaturally, more than I can possibly express.

On the romance: (view spoiler)

On the back cover there is a quote from Aprilynne Pike, author of Wings. She says "Two sexy paranormals who view for Evie's affections each had their own victory; one won Evie's heart and the other won mine."(view spoiler)

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Reading Progress

May 1, 2011 – Shelved
September 20, 2011 – Started Reading
September 20, 2011 –
page 118
35.22% "I get the feeling Evie doesn't really think. She has a very strong voice but no personality despite her love of pink, fashion, and pop culture. She doesn't plan anything, she just goes places randomly and has stuff happen to her. This is really confusing because I want to love this book SO MUCH and all I'm thinking is, "This reads like some high school kid wrote it," but that could be the whole point!"
September 21, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Archer wrote: "I think, after what you've told me, I will only read this if I have nothing left to read. Brilliant review. "

I think it might be just a tad too girly for you.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review. What is the difference between telling and showing? By the way, my book starts with dialogue. My books always start with dialogue ;)

Can't wait to see what you think of Supernaturally!

message 3: by Lissa (last edited Sep 21, 2011 01:48PM) (new) - added it

Lissa I will take an example from Beth Revis' blog to illustrate the difference between telling and showing. It lies in the verb.
It was cold. = Telling
Amy shivered in the cold. = Boring showing
Amy shivered: the cold seemed to reach all the way through her skin and into her heart. = Good showing.

However, you simply cannot write an entire novel showing the whole thing. Sometimes it's appropriate to tell. An author needs to find the middle ground, a mixture of the two.

BTW I don't think there's anything wrong with starting a novel with dialogue, it's just looking for advice on what grabs an agent/editor's attention we are constantly battered over the head NOT to use dialogue. But as always, there is an exception to every rule.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh boy. I fear writing like a cliche when I "show" write too much.


"Her heart hammered in her chest so hard, it reverberated into the floorboards, causing the wood beneath her feet to crack."

Is that why it's best never to use the word "heart" in a novel? lol!

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm avoiding the cheese, by being aware of cliche. I don't want my writing to come across as trying too hard. Also, my books are mainly about the story. If the way I tell it doesn't adhere to "the rules" about writing, then oh well! ;)

message 6: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Oh, really? I might have to check out the first book, then.

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