Review Detail4.6 9
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 on 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.
What Left Me Wanting More:
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? 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.
The Final Verdict:
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.