Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point by Kasie West
published by Harpercollins Publisher (HarperTeen) in February 2013
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.

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Contemporary
Series: Pivot Point, Book #1

The Story: Addison Coleman lives in a top secret, paranormal compound where people have advanced mental abilities. Around their tween years, each individual starts Presenting with one ability from a wide and varied range: telepath, telekinetic, mood controller, mass manipulator, perceptive, persuasive, etc., which is then nurtured to full potential. While Addie's ability is classified as Clairvoyance, it is actually a lot more specific. Called Divergence, which means extending in different directions from a common point, it allows Addie to see the future - the two possible outcomes when faced with a choice - when she does a Search. And her future is the only one Addie can see.

At the beginning of Pivot Point, Addie's parents announce that they are getting a divorce and Addie must choose with whom she wants to live. The catch is that her father has decided to leave the compound to live among the "Norms" as a FBI agent. Addie is much closer to her father, but does that mean she can leave the life she knows and her best friend Laila behind? In order to make a decision, Addie makes a Search six weeks into the future... But what she is about to learn is that even knowing what the future holds for you, some choices are hard to make... and sometimes, sacrifices are needed.

My Opinion: I was checking out the upcoming releases for Breezing Through's New Releases posts when the cover of Pivot Point caught my attention. Then, once I read the blurb, I knew it was my kind of books :)  I really love books about psychics and ones that deal with time manipulation. Therefore, Pivot Point was definitively on my radar and I am sooooo happy that I picked it up, because Ms West's debut novel turned out to be a winner!! :) Woohoo! LOL.

Needless to say, I loved Pivot Point. I thought it was an excellent book and I enjoyed everything about it - the world building, the characters, the story and particularly the writing. First, I really liked the premise of the book. It's not time traveling per se, but time manipulation and for some reasons, I like that LOL. It's just like Forgotten by Cat Patrick (which I enjoyed a lot, but haven't reviewed - oups ^_^;) where the heroine see the future, but forgets the past. I like that things can change, that they are not stagnant and as such, it just made Pivot Point interesting for me :) I also thought Pivot Point was refreshing, different because it pushed the boundaries of genres. For example, Addie's day-to-day routine was very contemporary; the paranormal compound was well, paranormal; the "time manipulation" aspect would be sci-fi, etc. It seemed to me Ms West had an idea, had a story to tell and she just did. And because she mixed so many elements, it stopped Pivot Point from being usual, stereotypical and made it refreshing :) One of the element that was crucial for that feel was the world building and I really enjoyed it. I liked Ms West's take on the mental abilities. When you think about it, these mental abilities are very akin to psychic abilities... and what Ms West did was take those and put her own spin. I liked what Ms West came up with like the Perceptives which are the ones that can change what you can perceive, usually visual, and etc. It feels like Ms West put a lot of thoughts into it to come up with the abilities and the designations and it really pays off. Also, I liked that the people have control over their abilities - to a certain extent. For example, Addie can do a Search when she wants. And because they have control over their abilities, they can improve it, hone it. Also, advanced mental abilities often translate into advanced technology and it was the case in Pivot Point. I thought it was really cool to have kind of two worlds occurring in parallel. It was like having a present and future worlds going on at the same time :) In the future where Addie chose to live with her dad, she had to get used to turning on lights, to DVD machines and so on. So it was fun and again, unique :)

As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the world building, the characters and the story. So let's talk about the characters and the story :) I actually really loved Addie and I thought she was a great heroine. What I liked most about her is how individualist she was. She was comfortable in her own skin and didn't care what other people thought, said or did. Pivot Point wasn't a story about a heroine finding herself because Addie had already done that. She knew what she liked and who she was. When she started high school in the "Norm" world, she wasn't interested in becoming popular or finding a boyfriend and again, I found that refreshing. The fact that instead, she was looking for a best friend, I think that made her relationship with Trevor ultra-sweet :) As for Trevor, I really liked him as well. I liked that he has moved on. Of course, there was some bitterness over his injury ending any potential career as a quarterback - who wouldn't have any? But it wasn't his whole world, he didn't hang onto it and that showed me how mature Trevor was. A lot more mature than many characters I've seen in sport romances ^_^; He was also very attentive and observant. That scene where he told his mother stuff about Addie, again, very sweet :) All in all, Addie and Trevor made such a cute couple and I loved reading their storyline. I also enjoyed the secondary characters a lot such as Addie's parents and her best friend, Laila. It was nice to have parents that were present and their dynamics with Addie were very interesting. As for the story, it's kind of hard to talk about it without spoiling it, but it was good LOL.

Seriously though, what stands out for me about Pivot Point is how well thought out the book was. Not only the world building, but the storyline as well as the narration. What Ms West did was basically tell two possible outcomes of a same future in one story and not only did she succeed, but she did it seamlessly, with brilliance and without confusion. I mean, I'm not even sure I manage to explain it without confusion here ^_^;, so imagine writing it! LOL. What I also loved about the story Ms West wrote is that these two possible outcomes didn't go into two opposite directions, but instead they inter-crossed. No matter what future Addie would have chosen, they were events that would have happened. True, they would have happened in a different way, but they would still have occurred. For example Addie meeting Trevor, the football match between the two high schools, the prank on Poison, etc. It was really interesting to see how the two possible outcomes unfolded, but also how they actually connected :) Another aspect of Pivot Point that made it stands out was Ms West's writing; I was really impressed by it :) The way Pivot Point is written, Addie's two possible futures are told simultaneously with alternating chapters. Not only was it was clever, but also very effective because Ms West avoided bogging the story down with re-writes of the same scenes in the different futures and the readers were always aware of the timeline. In addition, it kept the story balanced as you had equal numbers of chapters of Addie in the paranormal compound and Addie in the "normal" world. As much as I enjoyed the characters, the world building and the story, there's no doubt in my mind that it's the execution of the book - Ms West's writing and planning - that made this book a winner :)

My one and only complaint about Pivot Point is a small one and that is the rushed ending. Or actually, I should say the climax in one of the possible outcomes. It just felt a little too rushed. The foreshadowing was well done in my opinion, but it just felt that things fell into place a bit too conveniently for the climax to occur. As for the real ending, I was really satisfied. At the end of her Search, Addie had a really tough decision to make. Actually,  not so tough... Which future to choose was obvious, but it wasn't without sacrifices. And I guess that's the message of the book, knowing the future doesn't necessarily make a choice easy. Also, given that Pivot Point is the first book in a series, Ms West has accomplished a rare feat: no cliffhanger!! How awesome is that? LOL.

My Grade: A. It's really been a long time since I've read such a well balanced book where every element was so strong. Pivot Point just worked for me and I  strongly recommend it to everyone! I'm definitively going to re-read it while I wait for the next installment! Really looking forward to it :) Lucky for me though, Ms West has another book scheduled this year, The Distance Between Us, which is a contemporary YA and it should hold me off ;) I'm also very curious to see how she handles another genre :)