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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Kiersten White
Release date: July 26th, 2011

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

I started off my year with Kiersten White's debut, Paranormalcy, and I said in my review that it was the perfect funk-breaker and way to start the year.  I've been recommending it heartily ever since.  And so, though I don't usually actively pursue review books, the sequel, Supernaturally, was one I was bound and determined to get my hands on.  (As politely and professionally as possible, of course... ;p)  So yes, Misty + ARC of Supernaturally = Pleased As Punch.  I was so, so ready to slip back into Evie's world and have her funny, effervescent voice back in my head.

Supernaturally picks up a few months after the events of Paranormalcy, with Evie settled into the normal life she's always craved - and she's quickly learning that normal's not all it's cracked up to be.  I mean, she's even beginning to lose her enthusiasm over lockers.  Evie is...sad, but she doesn't quite realize it yet.  I kept thinking as I was reading this that the Evie we meet in Supernaturally is going to be hard for some fans of Paranormalcy to swallow.  She is going through some major changes and confronting the facts of her life - no longer a super-special kick-ass IPCA chick, not quite as human as she thought she was, missing her best friend and almost-sister, finding out normal = boring, and relationship slightly on the rocks - and all of this makes for a less likable Evie.  She's not as buoyant and irrepressible; she's sort of angsty and occasionally whiny, and at times, downright sulky.  She's a little hard to bear, and it may well put some fans off.

But the thing is, I still have to give credit to Kiersten White because I think these changes were honest.  It makes perfect sense that after everything, after losing so much and finding out that her life has always been a lie, that Evie would be reeling and not dealing with it all that well.  Her world has been turned upside down, and she can't trust anything anymore. She's starting from scratch, and the shiny wears off pretty quickly, especially when the only thing you've got to look forward to is a locker.  Not to mention that she's pretty much lived her life in a controlled bubble, so she doesn't necessarily have the coping mechanisms to deal with these huge changes, nor does she have the people in her life that would have been the ones to help her through them.  It's only fitting that this introduce some angst into her life, and that we see her in a rough patch. It wouldn't have been believable to have everything go on smoothly and nonchalantly as before.  But even if it's understandable and even necessary to advance Evie's character, there will be people who just don't have the tolerance for it.  And with a lot less Lend in the story than people are going to be happy with, and most of the cutesy gone, there may be those who were fans of the first book, but heartily dislike the second.

There were times when I was irritated with Evie or the story, but for the most part, even if it lacked a bit of the magic of the first, I enjoyed it pretty thoroughly.  There were some new beings introduced, either briefly or for the long haul, that brought in a lot of the fun I've come to associate with White's writing.  Much of it expanded the world nicely, and some of it was downright hilarious (unicorns!).  One of the new major characters, Jack, was a great deal of fun, very Puckish* and irreverant, and school-boy/smart-ass charming.  He's good, crazy fun.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I saw his storyline coming a mile away, but I still enjoyed getting there, and what he brought out in Evie or allowed to be revealed.

(*I mean that in the old-school sense, not the J. Kagawa sense. Stop squeeing.)

Many of the old characters were there too, even some that you may not have expected to see again.  Raquel is back with her sighs - though less of them, thank god - and we get to know some of the formerly minor characters a little better.  And Reth makes an appearance or three, and I ate up every minute of it.  I love me some Reth, I don't even care.  Say what you want, he may be a Fey dick at times, but I lurve him, and I don't even care to hide it.  One thing I was happiest about, though, was the continuance/resolution to the Vivian storyline.  Vivian is still a part of the story, in her way, and while still just as intriguing, it is a much calmer relationship.  I really like her and the consistency of her character; even when she grows and changes, it's believable, and she facilitates that in Evie, too.  The realities of Evie's struggle and what she and Vivian are paves the way for a great expansion of Evie's history.  There is still so much there to explore, both in the person she is going to become (and I love her struggle, love the temptation and the horror of being what she is), and in the way the other paranormals treat her.

I think, in some ways, this was a book to get through.  I don't mean that it was bad or you have to slog through it, but I think it acts as a necessary bridge between what has happened and the things that need to come into being.  Just as Evie needed to go through these hard, angsty times to come into her own (I hope) and grow, I think there are a lot of things that either happen or are hinted at that give a sense that the story is much bigger.  Something big is brewing, and it always feels as if it's about to explode.  There are things that aren't 100% tied up at the end, and though that may frustrate some, it's doesn't seem done in that false way that's meant to get you to buy another book.  There are just...implications of a bigger picture, hints about the elementals and other beings, of tensions and alliances, and though the main events of this story are wrapped up nicely, you get a sense that it's just the calm before the storm.  And personally, I love storms...

Looking forward to book 3.

Related: If you haven't read the book, here's the trailer.  If you have, this fan-made, Sims-based trailer kills me.  So bleeping funny. [Intenionally or not...]



  1. "I think, in some ways, this was a book to get through."

    This is pretty much exactly what I thought about Supernaturally. I enjoyed it, but not as much as Paranormalcy. I'm really looking to see how things go in Book 3 though! Hopefully Evie will bounce back after all the crap she's been through.

  2. I'm not sure how I feel about the prospect of angsty Evie. Hopefully there will still be some humor. Lovely review!

  3. Also, I just posted my review of Paranormalcy today. Literally. I like how we're on the same wavelength.

  4. Well, of course we are, Liz!
    And yes, Natalie, I'm right there with ya.

  5. I'm looking forward to this even more now. It doesn't sound like it's going to be all fun given my affection and empathy for Evie. But I do so appreciate how a good author can make characters believably, emotionally real and normal, despite how paranormal they may be. Nothing against fun and happiness but honesty touches more deeply and lasts longer.

  6. I adored Paranormalcy so I'm a bit bummed to hear this one isn't as good. That being said, as a big fan of Evie - I have to see it through and get through it (like you said). FAB review.

  7. This book is at the tip-top of my TBR pile, as in as-soon-as-I-finish-what-I'm-reading-now. I'm really excited to see Evie grow as a character, and even though, like you said, she may be less Sunny Side Up, I think it will be a more realistic transition. Awesomesauce review!


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