(Thank you to the Midnight Garden for the book!)
Published by: Harper Teen
Recommended by: Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Christina Reads Your Recommendations is a regular Monday feature here (inspired by A Reader of Fictions' Sadie Hawkins Sunday) in which you, my readers, get to choose what book I will read and review next. Send in your recommendations via this form!
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
1. (+) Addison, the protagonist - Addie may go down as one of my favorite YA heroines of all time. From the start, you're pulled into her witty perspective as she contemplates the misguided advice of "Head's up" (after getting hit in the head). She loves books - pastes drawings and paints quotes on her walls to capture the feeling of the emotions in the words as she experiences them. She's loyal: there is an abundance of boys in the book, yet her relationship with her best friend, Laila, rings true. She doesn't want to be girl in the quarterback's jersey; she's an introvert and doesn't particularly like football... and yet above all, she is brave, thoughtful, considerate. Although she does some selfish things--her parents are going through a divorce, and someone is going to get the brunt of that--and may analyze a situation a tad too much thanks to her Type A personality, she's a smart, refreshing heroine who, I suspect, would make for a great best friend.
2. (+/-) World-building - On one hand, I was pleased with how easily Kasie West inserted the necessary information about the Compound (automatic lights, enhanced...everything etc.) and each person's powers. There were no awkward info-dump paragraphs, or info-dump conversations--none that I can remember, that is. On the other hand, you don't learn a whole lot about the inner workings of their powers. Or, really, the Compound (how did the rules come in place? who governs it? it's located in Texas? etc.). There's sometimes a vague mention of the energy re: powers, but I'm a bit confused as to whether that only relates to one person or them all. In general, West does a great job emphasize what's different for Addie as she navigates Normal life - reverse characterization of the Compound, so to speak. (Think Harry Potter and the wizard v. Muggle world).
3. (+) Romance - This may be one of the most unusual love triangles I've read about - and somehow it's also not really a love triangle. Kasie West did a brilliant job of characterizing two very different romantic interests, and two very different outcomes as a result. It's made clear which of the two options is better, yet neither is any less complex.
4. (+) Plot - What made this plot brilliant was not only the way the two alternate futures began to converge (also, how even in the beginning, a lot of the details were the same) but also the way in which Ms. West incorporated the characters' individual powers into the mystery and their actions/character development. You have Memory Erasure, Clairvoyence/Divergence, Mood Controlling, Matter Manipulation, Telekinesis, Undefined Powers, Discerning (lie detecting), and Persuading. This makes for thrilling and somewhat unpredictable plot twists and turns, and developed character arcs.
5. (+) Humor - This book is full of genuinely funny moments and conversations - it's not just filled with the one-liner humor you tend to find in a lot of YA lit. For instance, one recurring joke involves how Addie decides to act in light of the divorce - she's got her "rebel" on, ready to enact the cliches of post-divorce teenage behavior based on the books that she's read.
6. (+) Friendship - Do you ever think that YA lit sometimes seems to de-emphasize genuine friendship between girls? (The Jealous ex/secret lover, the Mean girl, etc. And how many books would pass the Bechdel test?) One of the best portions of this book is seeing how Laila and Addie interact, how they bring each other comfort, and how the distance affects their friendship in ways neither of them expected. One thing that slightly disappointed me about the friendship was how much of it focused on boys (though, truthfully, a part of me thought that added a more realistic edge). That focus, and how the portrayal of another girl character fit into the jealous mold that Laila's presence combated--other than those two things, the friendship between these two girls, and the emphasis on friendship in this book were truly a delight.
7. (+) Feel of the Book - You should adjust your expectations, I think, before reading this one. If you're going in with the expectation that this is paranormal romance, well, this book might not fit the typical mold. If you think this is light science fiction, I'd probably say it's light science fantasy. If anything, this book most reminds me of a contemporary thriller / romance with hints of mystery and science fantasy.
8. (+) Writing - It flows really well and is easy to read. It's appropriate for the thriller feel while still packing emotional punch.
9. (+) Pacing - I can't imagine how hard it must have been to switch between the different timelines for the alternating perspectives - whether Addie stays with her mom, or whether she leaves the Compound with her father - but Kasie West managed to plot and pace the book so expertly that I could not flip the pages fast enough. The tension rises and rises until the alternating perspectives begin to converge and overlap into the climactic scenes.
10. (+/-) The Cover - I'm not a huge fan of this cover. While I like the grittiness of the color scheme and texture, and the portrayal of Addie having two choices and them being split by the Pivot Point, there's something about the image that just doesn't capture my eye.
This is the second week of Christina Reads Your Recommendations, and already I've gotten two great reads. Yusss. (!!!) I now understand the Kasie West hype, and you bet I'm going to read Split Second, the sequel to this duology. Laila's got some 'splaining to do. Check out Pivot Point if you're looking for a contemporary-esque thriller/romance with a dash of science fantasy/paranormal and a heap of heart and humor.
Up Next: Of Silver and Beasts by Trisha Wolfe or The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.