Review: Pivot Point

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Pivot PointPivot Point by Kasie West
Series: Pivot Point #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 12, 2013
Genres: Alternate Universe, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 343
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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.

First Sentence: “‘Heads up,’ a loud voice called from my right.”

Review:
After a string of books, some of them even very good, that I have just failed to emotionally connect to, I finally read another one that gave me feels! So far, with two notable exceptions, I have been very impressed with the 2013 debuts I’ve read, and Pivot Point is perhaps my favorite book so far this year, though, admittedly, it’s only my eighth book for the year.

From the cover and the synopsis, I expected things to start off with a bang and be dark and creepy pretty much all the way through. Well, not so much. Actually, the book starts off with a huge focus on humor, even once the split happens. Much of it feels very contemporary, science fiction elements aside. Though a bit thrown by the lightness of the beginning, West really makes this work, slowly and steadily amping up the action and the eerieness as the novel progresses.

Addison Coleman loves books and loathes football. Is it any wonder I think of her as a kindred spirit? She also spends time musing over such things as how confusing the phrase ‘heads up’ is, since it usually means to do just the opposite. Addie is witty, more on the introverted side, a good friend, and able to make tough choices. Of course, she also acts like a teenager, acting out in response to her parents’ divorce. Let it be noted, too, that, though divorced, both parents take an active role in her life (or try to).

Addie lives in the Compound, a secret city of people with advanced brains, so advanced that they have powers. Awesome, right? These powers include telekinesis (Duke), matter manipulation (Bobby), persuasion (Mom), detecting lies (Dad), memory erasure (Laila), and divergence, which is not at all like in the Roth novel (Addie). West makes excellent plot use of each power, rather than giving people abilities solely for the cool factor. She also does a great job considering some of the ramifications of these powers on family and friendship dynamics.

What Addie can do is, with every choice, examine her future options, or at least the most obvious two. When her parents announce their impending divorce, they tell her she should analyze the future and choose whether she wants to live with her father outside the compound or her mother inside. After chapter three, the narrative alternates between her future should she choose to stay in the compound and if she should leave. This has been done before, but I think West uses this technique to great affect.

West sets up Addie and Laila’s relationship so well. Unlike so many novels where the heroine moves and a best friendship melts away almost instantly, Addie and Laila continue to call one another regularly. They remain each one another’s best source for a discussion of boy drama or discomfort at home. Just because friends are far apart does not mean that they cannot remain close. In fact, Addie and Laila are somewhat closer when more physically distant, which is fascinating. Comparing the dynamics between Addie and the various other characters in the two futures is endlessly fascinating. In some cases, there seems also to be an element of serendipity, where in others certain people will or will not bond depending on how they meet.

All of you authors going overboard on instalove, I want you to read Pivot Point, because this is a perfect example of how an author can set up a convincing relationship in 300 pages. In fact, West sets up two of them, all without bandying about the word love. Instead, she makes use of delightful banter and actual time spent together to establish relationships. West had me feeling butterflies vicariously several times. I really like the way she set up the romance, which I suppose could be called a love triangle, but not in any ordinary sense.

The would building could use a bit of work, since only the most minimal of effort is given to explaining how this magic invisible to norms (think Hogwarts unseeable by muggles) compound came to exist in Texas. Plus, the scope of Addie’s abilities is never entirely clear to me. Can she only see yes/no choices or can she see any possible choice she could make? Wouldn’t she be confronted with other choices within the future, thus possibly negating the future she’s just seen? I hope there will be clarification on these things in the next installment, and I suspect there certainly will be on Addie’s powers.

The formatting of the chapters is quite cute, but I suspect not clear enough to keep some readers from being confused about what is happening in the story. Basically, all of the chapters where she’s in the compound start with the definition of a word that has PARA in it, and the ones outside have NORM in them. While I do think this is quite clever, I’m not sure if people will notice that and put the two together, and, more worryingly from my point of view, I don’t think the definitions themselves add to the story.

Pivot Point has mind powers, family drama, kissing, humor, and action. What more could you want? I will be anxiously anticipating the sequel to Pivot Point and her contemporary novel The Distance Between Us, due out in July 2013. I expect to see great things from Kasie West, since she starts off with such a marvelous debut.

Favorite Quote:

“‘He fits all the criteria of a male best friend.’
‘Okay, I’ll play. What are the criteria of a male best friend?’
‘One: I feel completely comfortable around him, no nervousness or anxiety. Two: He’s really nice. And three: He doesn’t annoy me.’
‘Wait, are you saying a love interest has to annoy you?’
‘At first. And then eventually it’s realized that all that annoyance and mistrust is actually romantic tension.’
‘Addie, you’re seriously screwed up.'”

25 responses to “Review: Pivot Point”

  1. Another book that came out in 2012 seemed similar to the premise for this one, so I’ve been avoiding it out of disappointment from the former, but it sounds like I shouldn’t have made that judgement. 4.5 stars! Your favorite of 2013, even if that’s only out of 8 books. Butterfly romance! Superpowers! Humor! Merp! (Also lol @ the Addie quote.)

    • Christina says:

      Huh. Which book? I thought about going 4, but I enjoyed this so much that I decided to round up!

      If you like the quote, you’ll probably enjoy Addie and the book!

  2. I freaking love this cover so much that even though it seems a little sci-fi-ish for me I want to read it so bad. After reading your review though it seems a little less sci-fi than I thought, which makes me MORE EXCITED. I love the powers everyone has, and the fact that they actually have purpose in the story makes it more awesome. Can’t wait to read it!

    • Christina says:

      It actually felt more like a contemporary than a science fiction most of the time, despite the powers. More about her life which happens to have powers than about the powers themselves. However, the powers are still EPIC.

  3. Monica says:

    I just recently read this book and I loved it as well! Like you said, I expected it to be very intense and dark but it was actually sweet and refreshing. Definitely one of my favorites, too. Amazing review 🙂

  4. I read the beginning of your review and then began skimming once I realized how positive it is, you know, expectations and all. But WOW! I really can’t wait to get to this one now. 4.5 for the feels! I want the feels! I hope I have this one coming up soon because I have read so many good things about it! *smacks self to forget all the good things*

    • Christina says:

      Oh man, I hope you like it, though you might decide to be a miser about it. :-p If you check out the last couple paragraphs, there are criticisms if you want to try to lower your expectations. :-p

  5. Katie says:

    I love the sounds of this one. I definitely need to move it up on my TBR pile. I’m so happy to hear that there is no insta-love and while the chapters do seem a bit confusing, I think I can work past that. Great review!

  6. Nori says:

    You make this sound so good! I’ve read mixed things about it, but now, I need to own it. Right now.

  7. I loved this book as well, and I totally agree about setting up a convincing relationship.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  8. I’ll be reading this book in a month or so, and I’m so excited! This is the first review I’ve read for it, and it sounds like it doesn’t disappoint at all. I like how it comes off as more of a contemporary even though there are sci fi elements (I’m partial to contemporary YA). I loved your review!

  9. YES YES YESSSSSSSSSSS!

    *happy dance* *trips over floor* *tumbles down stairs*

    In case I didn’t make it clear enough to you, I am SO. FREAKING. HAPPY. that you ended up liking this. I completely agree about West’s amazing skill at relationship building – with particular emphasis on Trevor and Addie’s relationship, which I LOVED, and also a ton of emphasis on Addie and Laila’s relationship, which, like you had mentioned, was entirely refreshing how they didn’t drift apart (too much) after Addie moved. And I completely see where you’re coming from with the lack of world-building, but in the grand scope of things, I loved the book so much that the lack of world-building was so minuscule of a problem I barely even noticed it.

    *picks self up from floor and happy dances with a slight limp*

    So happy. Really. So happy.

    • Christina says:

      Bahahaha!

      Yay! When other people read it and are like meh, we can cry together about how awesome it was and they don’t know enjoyable books even when they slap them in the face!

      Trevor and Addie for sure. They had such a great slow burn, and I loved how she had no idea what was happening for the longest time. Girl is good at living in denial!

      Laila and Addie were drifting apart, but it took time, and it wasn’t like an immediately severed tie. Plus, they probably would have gotten closer again after Laila visited at the football game, were it not for the end of the Search. They would have gotten less close eventually, but it would have taken a while.

  10. Renae says:

    This sounds so good! (Plus, you and Blythe talked this up a ton, so I must read it obviously.) The concept is great-sounding and super intriguing, and the fact that you emotionally connected to Addie and her story says a lot to me. Plus: one girl with two relationships, minus instalove? And banter, too.

    Yaaaay, I’m really excited for this!

    • Christina says:

      Ha, we did! I think some of the world building things will bother you, so I don’t know if this is a Renae book. I’ll be curious to see your thoughts, whatever they may be!

  11. Kat Balcombe says:

    Yessssssssss! I was so on the fence with this one, just thinking it would be another average book and you’ve completely sold it for me! Hurrah for banter!

  12. Wow! Am really really wanna read this!

  13. Chantelle says:

    YES! no instalove! If possible, my anticipation for this novel just got a little higher!! Great review, I love your layout 🙂

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