Friday, March 07, 2014

Review: Split Second by Kasie West

Split Second by Kasie West
published by Harpercollins Publisher (HarperTeen) in February 2014
Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too... but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories... once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot... and a future that could change everything.
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Series: Pivot Point, Book #2

The Story: Addison Coleman lives in a top secret, paranormal compound where people have advanced mental abilities. Addie's ability is called 'divergence,' a kind of unique clairvoyance specific to herself. When faced with a choice, Addie can do a 'search' and see the two possible outcomes. In Pivot Point, after her parents' divorce announcement, Addie did a search to decide whether to live with her mother and stay at the compound or follow her father and live in the Norm world. In the end, she chose the former and asked her best friend Laila, who is a Memory Eraser, to erase her memories of the search.

When Split Second starts, the events that Addie had seen during her search has unfolded. Addie can hardly believe this was the future she chose. Her boyfriend Duke turned out to be a jerk, dating her only so he could make use of her ability to find out which path he should choose to further his football career. Her best friend betrayed her by making out with the jerk boyfriend. The worst though was that Duke was actually a mood controller and altered both Addie and Laila's feelings to make them fall for him. Oh and they almost all died at the hand of one of their classmates, Bobby, who turned out to be a psychopath.

After everything that has happened, Addie is happy to leave the compound behind and visit her father in the Norm world for the holidays. She needs a break from all the drama... and some distance between her and Laila won't hurt at this moment because even though Laila's betrayal wasn't entirely her fault, it doesn't mean it hurts less. However, this vacation isn't shaping up to be what Addie was expecting. First, Addie is  developing a new ability - to slow time - and has been getting horrible headaches whenever she's using her divergence... She's afraid that her encounter with Bobby has changed something within her. Then, it seems her father, whom she always could count on, has been keeping secrets from her. And of course, there is a boy, Trevor. Addie keeps bumping into him and is attracted to him. However, he's her new friend's ex and it doesn't seem like her new friend is over him... and what would happen if he learned about the compound?

Meanwhile, Laila is back at the compound and anxious at the distance between her and Addie. She's afraid she's losing her best friend. To make up for her betrayal, Laila decides to make one of Addie's wishes a reality: to restore Addie's memories about the search. In order to do this, Laila needs to advance her ability and that means rubbing elbows with some unsavory people. Luckily, one of her classmates, Connor Bradshaw, seems to have elected himself as her protector... but are his motives really pure?

My Opinion: Last year, I read and looooved Pivot Point, so much it was my favorite YA read of 2013. You know how some books just hit the right spots for you, well that was Pivot Point for me :) I was sooo happy to find out there was going to be a sequel! Although frankly, I did not really know what to expect from Split Second at all. How was Addie going to reconnect with Trevor? Would she?! As soon as I got my copy of Split Second, I devoured it to find out... and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the direction Ms West took :)

First and foremost, what was so great about Split Second was that it wasn't a repeat of Pivot Point. As much as I loved the concept of Pivot Point, to have a second book all about Addie making a search, seeing two futures unfold and make a choice would simply have been a retread/rehash. Kind of like Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins where you have the feeling of reading the same thing again. Also, there wouldn't have been a storyline to the series ^_^; Instead, Split Second was a real continuation of Pivot Point where Addie had to deal with the consequences of the choice she made even if she was unaware for most of the book. That is in large part what made Split Second so interesting and engaging :) And really, I have to give credit to Ms West for this gutsy move because it's not easy to mess with something you know works! What's more, she turned it into a successful move with her writing, her characters and the story :)

The best change Ms West made to Split Second was adding Laila's POV to the story in my opinion. As Addie's best friend, Laila was an important character in Pivot Point... After all, she's the reason Addie chose the future she did and so, it was nice to get to know Laila better. It was also interesting because really, in almost every aspect, Addie and Laila are complete opposites - different family situation, different personalities, different views on their abilities, etc. As a result, we got contrasting opinions and insights :) I have to say, I wasn't a huge fan of Laila in Pivot Point as I found her too brash... However, getting her POV really changed my opinion of her. I loved her devotion to Addie, how much their friendship meant and mattered to her. Knowing her family background also made me understand her better and I couldn't help but feel for her. I also really enjoyed Laila's romance with Connor. Once again, it was a big contrast with Addie's romance with Trevor. To a certain point, it was a more mature relationship in my opinion because both Laila and Connor had more baggage and they had to deal with it, grow... but it made for a solid relationship and I'm glad that Laila has someone supporting her.

Not surprisingly, I still very much enjoyed Addie and Trevor's characters. In some way, with everything happening, I feel Addie and Trevor got the short end of the stick. I guess because their romance was pretty much the focal point in Pivot Point, it wasn't as developed in Split Second which was unfortunate :( I definitively could have used more scenes of them together... they were just so sweet in Pivot Point! Still, Ms West was able to re-capture their personalities in this book. I felt Addie and Trevor in Split Second were the same characters that I got to know and love in Pivot Point, so I can imagine a lot of sweetness for them in the future :P

What was interesting in Split Second was seeing other characters in a different light such as Stephanie and Duke. It seems that Ms West's message is that a lot depends on what perspective you see them. I have to say, I'm glad that Duke wasn't portrayed has an evil villain. Instead, he was a young man who made poor choices... Hard to like, but not unforgivable. While it was nice to revisit characters, I did also enjoy the new ones Ms West introduced. I mentioned Connor whom I really liked for his maturity and his heart-breaking baggage... I'm also giving two thumbs up to Laila's younger brother, Eli, who was a nice addition the cast in an upbeat fashion :)

While there was a lot to enjoy in Split Second, the book was not perfect. One of my issues was one of the plot lines... the one which created a drift between Addison and her father. I don't want to go too much into details, but I thought that plot line was a bit over the top. I understand the need for it because it added some excitement to the book and it moved the storyline forward at a brisk pace. I even understand the characters' motivation behind it, but I felt that these people pushed it a bit too far. Also, at times, it made the story quite confusing and difficult to follow. Also, I'm not totally sure it was necessary to the book... and if it was, there might have been different alternatives. However, what it showed was that the compound even with its advanced mental abilities wasn't a perfect world which is something important to me. I really liked that Ms West showed that the two worlds were flawed, that none was really better than the other... it made it realistic to me.

According to Ms West's website, this series ends with Split Second :( Unfortunately, I feel there were quite a few loose ends and questions unanswered. It feels like Ms West has written a HEA ending "for now" instead of a permanent one. It's not necessarily a bad thing, because it means Ms West could easily write more books in this series if she chooses to in the future, perhaps with different protagonists... but for a reader like me, I like my books to be wrapped up a bit more neatly. I wish there'd at least been an epilogue...

My Grade: B+. To me, Pivot Point was unique and will probably always hold a special place in my heart :) As a result, I'm not surprised that Split Second didn't measure up because Ms West had set the bar oh-so very high. Still, on its own, Split Second was a very good and enjoyable book with only some minor flaws. I feel had the intrigue been tighter, those flaws would have easily been overlooked. In any case, I really hope Ms West will choose the revisit this series in the future because I sure wouldn't mind reading more about the world and characters she has created :)