Monday, August 30, 2010

What's "Normal" Anyway?

First off, this was my first Advance Reader Copy (ARC), and boy, am I really glad I got it! I won it as part of a give-away held by Alexandra Shostak at her blog. Honestly, it was in great shape, and I only found a couple typos, which I'm sure will have been fixed for the official release. Now that the book's about to be released, I'm not sure what to do with this ARC... Suggestions?

Anyway, without any further adieu...

Book 1
By Kiersten White
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Evie is not your normal teen, even though she'd like to think of herself that way.

First of all, she lives underground in a massive government complex. She doesn't know anyone her own age. She doesn't go to high school. She works pretty much round the clock. Oh, and did I mention she works with paranormals?

That's right. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, mermaids: they're all real. And Evie can see them all, no matter what type of glamour they try to fool normal humans with. Which makes her pretty valuable to her bosses at the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency). She'd love to live a normal life, or even the kind of life she sees on TV, but she doesn't see that happening anytime soon. And really, as long as she can keep her pink taser, Tasey, she's pretty content.

But when a new type of shape-shifter breaks into the IPCA, her ex-boyfriend starts acting strangely (even for a fairie), and paranormals start turning up dead she's forced to reconsider her situation. As a teenager, as a girl, and as a human...

This book had more romance than I normally read, but its handling of the issues weren't over-the-top or soap-opera-esque. Yes, a lot of the plot and character development hinged on the romance, but it wasn't the only point of interest. A lot of that was owed to the writing of Evie, who was the narrator.

I loved Evie. Even though she's practically the antithesis of myself (loves pink, loves high-school dramas, blonde), I still related to her attitude and her teenage struggles. As much as she was blonde, gorgeous, and pink-loving, she still had a kick-butt attitude and a witty head on her shoulders. She wasn't afraid to laugh at herself, or call herself out when she did something completely stupid.

The characters, on the whole, were delightful. Lend was fun and extremely charming. Reth was someone I loved to hate (though I can see why others might be more inclined to like him). Raquel was a boss I think everyone would love to have, though I will admit that no matter how many different types of sighs a person can do, they still got on my nerves after a while. Lish would be someone it'd be easy to have a bleeping awesome conversation with. And Arianna seems like the perfect mix of best friend and rival.

Unfortunately, not many of the other characters were fleshed out as much as I'd have wanted. There are a couple werewolves who are mentioned on the periphery of a few scenes, but never interact or play a part with Evie at all. Some other characters seem to be there because their absence would be odd, but nothing's ever done with them either. It's not too glaring, but it was slightly disappointing.

I also found a couple unresolved/dropped plot-lines. One was the naming of her gift dagger. She makes a big deal about it being 'as-yet-unnamed' when she gets it, but through the entire course of the book she doesn't think any more of it. There's also the werewolves I mentioned earlier. They seem to fill a plot-line introduced earlier, but its 'resolution' was severely lacking. You don't even find out what happens to them after they leave the room. Grr.

Though I now know this is the first of a projected trilogy, I actually thought it wrapped up everything fairly satisfactorily. There's no cliff-hanger (other than some empty-sounding threats), and Evie's storyline is pretty well resolved. Sure, she doesn't have all the answers, but no one ever does; much less a teenager! Knowing it's part of a trilogy just makes me wonder who or what will attack Evie next. And (though I do feel a little guilty saying it) I can't wait!

Approximate Reading Time: 6.5 Hours