Kiersten White: Paranormalcy

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Harper Teen

Evie is 16 and can identify paranormal beings on sight – she can see through their glamors to the creature underneath. She’s working for the IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency, who found her as a child when she screamed at the sight of a vampire in a cemetery. They took her out of her foster home and brought her to live at the IPCA center, where she’s home-schooled when she’s not on assignment identifying and tagging vamps, weres, hags, and other supernaturals. Other than her ability to see through glamors, Evie’s just a normal human teenager. Wrong! As the story unfolds, Evie learns that she’s pretty far from normal, in more ways than one. She also learns what it means to be happy, and to be loved, in ways she never expected.

Evie is very much a 16-year-old girl. I love that in a book about what’s normal and not normal, Evie’s more of a normal teenager than a lot of the fully human teens in other YA paranormal novels. She likes to shop and watch television and has a crush on a famous actor. She wants to meet a cute boy who will like her back, and she wants to go to prom. She’s goofy and flirty and at times very insecure, and it makes her easily likeable. Lend is clearly paranormal from the first time we meet him, yet he’s also a very normal teenage boy. I found both characters refreshing in a genre that often expects teenagers to save the world. Now, that’s not to say that Lend and Evie don’t save the world. To find that out, you’ll have to read the book. :)

The story starts out on the more lighthearted side, and it’s told from Evie’s perspective so it’s a little fun and goofy, like she is. As the plot unfolds, the book takes a more serious turn but Evie’s voice is constant. I really enjoy White’s writing style, and I love that she keeps the fun in the story. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to have a little fun, whether young adult or young-at-heart. If you enjoy White’s writing as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know that Paranormalcy is the first book in a trilogy, with the second book, Supernaturally, coming out in Autumn 2011.

Rebecca Maizel: Infinite Days

Title: Infinite Days
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Lenah Beaudonte is a 592 year old vampire whose greatest wish is to become human again. Rhode, her lover and maker, sacrifices himself to allow her to regain her humanity. Alone and in her 16-year-old body, Lenah begins to discover the human world again. At first she feels like an outsider, but then she meets Justin…

I love that Infinite Days offers a fresh take on vampires. It seems like most modern writers are romanticizing them as heroes, but Maizel shows them in a different light. Her vampires are inherently evil, and must overcome that evil to be capable of rational thought and compassionate action. Most of Maizel’s vampires aren’t capable of that, but a select few are, and those are the characters that make this story great. Lenah, the main character and narrator of the book, was one of the most evil, but a selfless act by her soul mate Rhode gave her a second chance at life. Rhode offered his life to make Lenah human again. As he tells her before he dies, it is the intention that matters.

I really liked meeting Lenah and watching her transformation in the book. The story is told with a number of flashback-style memories, so I got to know not just who she is in the present time of the book, but also who she was in the previous 592 years. The flashbacks did pull me out of the present-day story a little bit, but I really liked getting to know the person that Lenah is becoming before knowing too much about who she had been as a vampire. Maizel’s description of the way Lenah rediscovers her humanity is what made this book for me. She describes the things that Lenah sees and feels so vividly that I could really imagine what it would be like to have those experiences for the very first time, and it made me love the story and the character all the more.

Rhode is such a romantic character, and I found him absolutely fascinating. He was able to overcome his vampiric evil, and he loved Lenah so much that he was willing to die so that she could truly live. Lenah thinks about Rhode often, so he appears in quite a few flashbacks, and in many ways he’s the primary love interest in the book. From the sneak peak in the back of the book, it looks like we’ll be learning more about Rhode in the sequel, Stolen Nights, and I’m really looking forward to it.

There are humans in the story too, of course, though I didn’t find them nearly as fascinating as the vampires. Tony is the first human to talk to Lenah and they quickly become friends. He’s a character that’s easy to like. He’s quirky, artsy, and very down to earth, so I was drawn to him quickly, though it was clear from the beginning that he was the friend and not the love interest. Justin I adored, but I didn’t feel like his character was as consistent as Tony. He seems to vacillate between being immature and superficial in some scenes to being very mature in others, and there were times when I downright disliked him. He’s a teenage boy, through and through, and Maizel does a great job of capturing that.

Nothing about this story feels contrived, and each scene flows smoothly off the previous one, leading to the confrontation that is clearly coming from the beginning of the book. The ending is beautiful and wonderful, and left me wanting more. I’ve always felt that the best fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal is about, at its heart, what it means to be human. Infinite Days fits this perfectly.

True Blood: Time Bomb

If you’re not watching this show yet, why not? True Blood is gaining in popularity every week, so check out this great fan video and tune in to HBO for the next episode on Sunday!

This awesome fan video posted by saroufim93 (youtube) features the song Timebomb by Beck, which was the ending credits song for the episode with the same name.  If you like the video and want to thank the author, click through to comment directly on youtube.

The Twilight Saga

Twilight

A few weeks ago a purchased a hardcover copy of Twilight, just to see what the big deal was about. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie, and since the movie was coming out on DVD soon it seemed like time. So last Wednesday evening I opened my copy and started reading. By Thursday afternoon I had finished it and was at the bookstore buying New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. I was addicted. Watching Bella and Edward fall in love wasn’t enough, I had to know what would happen next.

I finished Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in the series, late Saturday night, and purchased Twilight the movie Sunday morning. I wasn’t sure if the movie would be able to capture the book; it’s hard to fit so much emotion and action into only two hours of screen time. While I still feel that the book tells the story so much better than the film, the film does hold it’s own. It’s definitely worth watching whether you’ve read the book or not – but if you’ve seen the movie and haven’t read the book, I recommend reading the book next.

As of this writing, New Moon the movie is in production, scheduled to be released late this year, and the movie version of Eclipse is planned for a 2010 release. I haven’t seen anything yet about a film version of Breaking Dawn, but I would assume that’s coming also, probably quick on the heels of the others. I’d imagine it’s a bit hard not to want to film these back-to-back since many of the characters don’t age, but of course the actors do! As for additional books in the saga, there’s no news yet. Midnight Sun, the companion to Twilight told from Edward’s viewpoint, is on hold indefinitely while Stephenie Meyer works on other projects. I have a feeling if she starts work on it again she will remain mum about it, and we’ll only hear the good news once she’s finished writing it. I, for one, have my fingers and toes crossed that we’ll hear more about Bella and Edward. Meyer may be done writing about them for a while (I refuse to believe she’s done permanently!!), but I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of reading about them.

If you’re addicted like me, you can hear more about her writing and publishing process, read outtakes, and even see photos of the Cullens’ cars at Stephenie Meyer’s website.