It’s been a while since I read a book that captivated me so completely that I was unable to put it down; a book that kept me reading late into the night, until I reached the very last page. Well this turned out to be a lucky week for me because I ended up with two such books, both of which were completely worth the precious sleep that I gave up for them, as well as the bleary-eyed mornings that followed.
The first of the books was Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. I decided to read Paranormalcy after it received positive reviews by a couple of book reviewers that I trust, but my expectations of it were still pretty low. I was unimpressed with most of the Young Adult books that I've read recently and I didn’t have such high hopes for this one. But the narrator’s engaging voice quickly pulled me into the story, which was unique and fresh, and the steady pacing kept me quickly turning the pages.
Orphaned at a young age and passed from foster family to foster family, Evie was eventually discovered by the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and brought to live within their headquarters. Evie’s unique ability to see through paranormal glamor makes her an available asset, and she has become an integral part of the agency, using her skill to identify and capture vampires and other paranormal creatures. But despite the satisfaction she gets in helping the Agency in their work, Evie often wishes she got to live like a normal teenager; going to school and hanging out with friends, just like on TV.
When an unfamiliar creature infiltrates the Agency, and gets captured, Evie finally gets the chance to spend time with a boy her own age. But the Agency is suspicious of him and what he represents because he has appeared just when supernatural creatures are suddenly turning up dead . Evie is certain that he is innocent and for the first time she finds herself questioning the Agency that has raised her and their intentions towards her.
Paranormally is definitely one of the best Young Adult and Urban Fantasy books that I've read in a long time and Kiersten White is now high on my list of new authors to keep an eye on.
The second of the books is Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohen and David Leviathan. Now I don’t usually read non-genre YA books but this one has been receiving so much praise that I was overcome by curiously and had to try it for myself. And boy am I glad that I did because this book was just so much fun.
While browsing in Strand bookstore one day, Dash comes across a red notebook that someone has inconspicuously slipped between a couple of books.
“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
Unable to resist, Dash turns the page and follows the clues left by the owner of the notebook. But before following the final instructions, Dash leaves his own trail for the notebook owner.
Lilly loves the holiday season and is disappointed that her parents havedecided to spend this Christmas on their own in Fiji. Her older brother is too wrapped up in his new romance to spend time with her, and suggests that she finds herself a boyfriend to keep her occupied. But how does one go about getting a boyfriend? With a little help from her brother and his new boyfriend, as well as from various well-meaning (and over-protective) relatives, Lily sets up a series of clues to help her find the perfect boy.
As Dash and Lilly pass the red notebook between them, they slowly get to know each other through the thoughts and messages, and the occasional dares, that they exchange within its pages.
I’m usually weary of books in which the point-of-view switches between a male and female protagonist, but Cohen and Leviathan pull it off wonderfully. Dash and Lilly each have a completely individual voice that expresses their different personalities, and I enjoyed reading the story from each of their perspectives. Despite their differences, Dash and Lilly still manage to complement each other and I loved how their friendship develops through their notes in the notebook and later, through their in-person interactions.
In addition to the unique story and the engaging characters I also really enjoyed the writing which was witty and full of quotable passages that I made sure to mark off:
I always hoped that after the prince found Cinderella and they rode away in thier magnificent carriage, after a few miles she turned to him and said "could you drop me off down the road, please? Now that I've finally escaped my life of horrific abuse, I'd like to see something of the world, you know? Maybe backpack across Europe or Asia? I'll catch back up with you later, Prince, once I've found my own way.
Boris the dog who needed walking turned out to be more like a pony who needed sprinting
Well sure, who doesn't need a boyfriend? but realistically, those exotic creatures are hard to come by. At least a quality one.
"You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here's a hint - ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn't just the women. It's the great male fantasy - all it takes is one dance to know that she's the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know - this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don't want a very long courtships. They want to know immediately."
This book was just so delightful and fun that I wish I had a dozen more like it that I could gorge myself on. Though I’m not sure I could afford the loss of sleep this would entail. I am excited to see that Cohen and Leviathan have written a couple of other books together (including Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) as well as some books written individually, and I intend to check all of them out.
And now that I've finished off all my unputtdownable books (and no, I did not make up this word, I've just been waiting for the chance to use it) I'm off to get some sleep.