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.

15 comments:

  1. I'm sorry this didn't work out for you Keertana! I quite enjoyed it but that's the beauty of reading, there's a book for everyone. I think I would've liked it if this story would've just wrapped up rather than making it so there would be a second book. Great honest review, and I'm happy you enjoyed it a little more than The Distance Between Us. :)

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  2. I saw PIVOT POINT on a lot of people's Top Favorites of 2013, so I'm quite sad to see that this didn't work out for you :( yikes, the first part of the story sounds so awful with all of the clichés! And it sucks that the author included a bunch of family relationships, but the romance played too big of a role in the story. I'm still quite intrigued by the genre of this story, and seeing that you enjoyed the second half of the story, I may still pick it up since I have a copy. Thanks for the honest review, Keertana!

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  3. It's a shame this wasn't a great read for you, Keertana, but I'm glad that you somewhat enjoyed the second half at least! I liked it a lot more, but I do agree that the world-building wasn't as developed as it could have been. It didn't really matter to me too much as the time, though, as it read more like a contemporary tale to me after a while, but I wonder if that's something we'll see better done in Split Second. It's interesting to get your thoughts. Lovely review as always! :)

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    1. Sam, I found this book read a lot like a contemporary tale after a point too, which disappointed me because I felt as if the strongest aspect in the story, not to mention the marketing strategy for the book, revolved around the parallel time lines and multiple visions for a future that existed in this world. I couldn't get over the lack of resolution regarding questions concerning this society, but perhaps if I had I would have enjoyed it more.

      From what I've heard, Split Second is also told from Laila's perspective, so I'm hoping for more world-building to be incorporated that way. We'll see..!

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  4. From what I had gathered from the blurb of this book, I found the plot quite inviting. Though, now, that you have written that the love story overshadows everything else at one point or another, I am very skeptic about reading it. I hate is when characters lack gray areas, too.

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  5. Nidhi, the plot really is very intriguing, particularly in the second-half of the book. I don't appreciate too much romance in my books, which is why I felt as if the love stories in this novel overshadowed a lot of great aspects. Other readers, however, will likely feel a lot differently. I'd be curious to hear what you think of this one, actually.

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  6. This is one of those books that I never got around because of the hype around it in 2013. But I know its a had a huge buzz around it and it being dystopian. What I find hard with this book that there isn't a lot of elements for that type of genre from what I've read of the world building. I think it will be a little while before I read this, but I think I'll be open-minded about West's books in the future. Lovely review, Keertana. :)

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    1. Thanks, Emma! Just to clarify, this one isn't dystopian or futuristic in any way. It's more of paranormal or fantasy, I guess, with people who have powers. It's also a little bit science-fiction that way too since the abilities are genetic. I just thought I'd clarify that for you and I'll be curious to see what you make of West's work! :)

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  7. I'm glad you found something to like about this book and that it was better than The Distance Between Us. I'd actually like to experience another book by West, because Distance was so very disappointing to me though many people loved it. But I don't think parallel/alternate reality worlds are for me. I'm already getting hives imaging this girl switching between worlds and love interests. I like the idea of one reality informing the other, and the way the story moved forward as it switched. But I don't think I could handle two love interests, even if one is obviously the "right" one. The jock sounds unlikable already and is sure to annoy me. Ambiguity though more interesting would probably make it worse. But again, thoughtful review and glad it was mostly a good experience.

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  8. Thanks, Lauren. I can't see this one being entirely for you either. I think the parallel worlds would seem very love-triangley and the jock really IS incredibly irritating. Surprisingly, I found this parallel world idea to be rather poorly done because technically there should be more than just two paths - if West were basing this off the scientific multiverse theory - so I thought have just two paths was taking the easy way out (though I don't know how this would work with multiple pathways). Anyhow, I'm planning on picking up West's next contemporary - are you too? Maybe we'll both enjoy that one more than DISTANCE! :)

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  9. I have heard great things about authors sophomore book I don't think I'm going near that one. Anyhow it's funny how your feelings for this one worked. :) I like the idea here, but somehow I'm a bit confused. She can see different paths in the future. Well I don't think life is really surprising for her. I won't want that to happen to me. I'm blabbing. Anyhow maybe I'll get to read this someday, but I'm not too grabbed by the idea. Great review, Keertana :)

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  10. I have to agree with you. In the end, her Very Important Choice came down to choosing between two boys, which seemed shallow and unnecessary and disappointed me to no end. With such a cool premise, the focus should have been something other than the romance, but no such luck.
    I think I'll read book two, but I'm not thrilled about the addition of a second POV.

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  11. I'm really disappointed by the execution of this novel, and I haven't even read it yet! By the way you've broken done its content, I know the lack of world-building will turn me off a bit. If the characters could totally make up for it, I'd let the emptiness of the world go. But seeing from your review that only two characters are noteworthy, I'm hesitant about attempting this. You did say this makes for a good lighthearted read, so I won't be too quick to write it off. Here's to hoping the final installment in this series makes your experience with West a lot better. I look forward to your thoughts! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

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  12. Aw that's too bad you didn't end up enjoying this one very much, Keertana! I do understand where you're coming from with most of your criticisms. Some of those aspects bothered me as well, although the fact that it was well written and how the dual narratives worked well made this a more positive read for me. I am not sure it's really fair to say that West may be trying to knock off Roth's Divergent series by also having a power referred to as "Divergent," though. Most books take such a long time to write that it's possible she had this idea before Roth's series even was published. I guess one benefit of not reading many contemporary YA novels anymore is that tropes don't stand out to me as much.

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