Saturday, January 4, 2014
Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West
Title: Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)
Author: Kasie West
Rating: 3 Stars
When I started this book, I knew it was either about to become one of the most surprising reads of the year (if I, by some miracle, enjoyed it after disliking West's Distance Between Us) or the most predictable (if I failed to enjoy this West novel as well). Unexpectedly, my feelings for this book fell right smack dab in the middle of the two extremes I thought they would steer towards. Granted, I enjoyed this novel much more than West's sophomore story, but that doesn't negate the fact that much of Pivot Point is unremarkable and disappointing.
Addie, the protagonist of our tale, is Divergent. Nope, she doesn't live in the futuristic Chicago of Tris Prior's world, but she possesses mind powers that enable her to see the different paths in her future. Although Addie's powers are rare in her world, her kind isn't as rare as we'd like to believe. In fact, groups of humans born with mind powers live in a secret complex known as the Compound, developing their skills and living separately from normal human beings. When Addie's parents decide to get a divorce, however, with her mother staying back in the Compound and her father determined to lead a normal life outside the Compound, Addie must suddenly choose between two completely different life choices.
Addie uses her power to Search her future, finding two choices that could dictate her future. In Future #1 Addie stays in the compound with her mother and best friend, Laila. Duke, the star quarterback of the football team, soon shows an unexpected interest in Addie. Although Addie has always despised the arrogant athlete - and rumored player - she can't help but fall for him with the encouragement of her best friend. While Addie is happy enough being Duke's girlfriend, she also harbors doubts about their relationship whenever she spends too much time away from him. Meanwhile, Laila slowly gets caught up in a difficult situation as her father, a drug addict, owes money to a drug seller by the name of Poison. In Future #2, Addie moves to the normal world with her father and meets Trevor, a high school senior who can no longer play football after a nasty shoulder injury. As Addie acclimates into normal life with Trevor and his friends - falling for the sweet senior - she also uncovers suspicions that the football players in her old school are using their powers to injure other football players on normal high school teams, like Trevor. Moreover, with Addie in the normal world, Laila's involvement with Poison only increases...
Every chapter of Pivot Point alternates between Future #1 and Future #2, which was surprisingly an effective method of storytelling as information from both futures overlap and add to our understanding of the plot as a whole. Where this story falters, though, is in its beginning. Pivot Point is unremarkable for the entirety of its first half. Not only does it rely on high school cliches such as cliques, jocks, nerds, etc. but it also lacks character depth. When the story finally picks up during the second half, I finally found myself engaged in the plot, unable to put the book down. Unfortunately, though, this all came a little too late.
When I went into Pivot Point, I was most concerned about a potential love triangle. As Addie witnesses two different futures, however, and is with (and devoted to) two different guys in each, any potential love triangle mess was efficiently cut out. Moreover, it becomes obvious quite quickly who West wants us to root for in terms of the "better" love interest. It's not much of a competition, really. And yet, though I did enjoy one of the romances in this novel, the love story focus of the book grated on me. West manages to include many parent-child interactions and the friendship between Laila and Addie is another integral aspect to the story, but these are often overshadowed by the romance.
Frankly speaking, if this weren't the case, Pivot Point could have been a much stronger novel. For a book that looks at two potential paths, it doesn't seem as if West was able to see another future for her novel. Unfortunately, I could. Pivot Point manages to incorporate hints about the Compound - their government, justice system, etc. - but never truly explores those parts of the world. In fact, the world-building is minimal and disappointing, particularly as Addie's father is an important member of their society as a lie-detector. Moreover, with the exception of Addie and Laila (on occasion), the rest of these characters remained black-and-white with little to no gray area. All the villains were wholly evil and the good guys were wholly pure and angelic. It was all just a little too convenient, by the end.
Pivot Point stands out because its intertwining timelines manage to reveal an intriguing plot line, but the other aspects of this novel leave much to be desired. Although I did manage to enjoy the second half of this story, that doesn't negate the fact that the first half was a complete snooze-fest of "hmm, where have I seen this typical and overused YA trope before??". Is Pivot Point better than West's Distance Between Us? Definitely. Without a doubt. And yet, it isn't the best YA has to offer. Not by a long shot.