Published: February 12th 2013 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
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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.
Pivot Point is an exquisitely crafted book that follows Addie, who can look at the consequences of the decisions she makes and always make the right choice. When her parents announce that they are getting a divorce, she must decide who to live with: stay in the Compound with her mother, or leave and eke out a living among the Norms with her father.
It could have been a disaster, and in fact, I’d always thought I wouldn’t enjoy it! But I read Pivot Point earlier this year, and absolutely loved it. This was around the time I was sick for two months though, so I never got the review up! But I re-read it over the holidays, and was again impressed by how well-executed and intriguing it is.
Addie jumps off the page from the first time readers meet her. She’s witty and often sarcastic, and I easily understood her humour (sometimes I really struggle with protagonists and their idea of funny!). I felt like I understood her, empathized with her, and was able to follow her brand of logic throughout the book.
Of the secondary characters, my favourites are Laila, Addie’s boisterous, out-spoken best friend, and Trevor, the Norm she befriends outside the Compound. In the reality where Addie stays in the Compound, Laila is supportive and amazing, constantly pushing Addie towards Duke, the school’s star quarterback. In the reality where Addie leaves, another side of Laila quickly emerges: one that needs companionship and spins out of control without Addie’s anchoring presence. I found this interesting because Laila has a horrible home life, and West explores how the only thing keeping her grounded is her friendship with Addie. My love of Trevor over Duke comes simply from the fact that Addie’s attraction to Duke always felt superficial to me – of course the protagonist was going to fall for the arrogant quarterback – but her friendship with Trevor always came first and it was very late in the novel when it morphed into romance.
My favourite aspect of the book is the way its presentation: the chapters alternate between the future she would have if she chose to live with her mother, and if she lived with her father. In both realities, Addie struggles to deal with the divorce, makes new friends, becomes close to a boy. Interestingly, certain events happen in both realities, regardless of whether Addie is there or not, which drives home that some things are going to happen no matter how she works to prevent them. This is important, since the same danger hovers around Addie and her friends in both realities, with disastrous consequences no matter what, and she has to ultimately choose not the reality she’d be happiest in, but the one with the consequences she can live with.
The world-building in Pivot Point interested me a lot – paranormally gifted people live in the Compound, which is hidden from the Norms. The technology is a lot more advanced (automatic doors and lights, mind expansion programs and computers in all classrooms, instant access to most information, etc.) and Addie struggles a lot when she has to adjust to living without it. Her adventures with the lights and doors, in particular, are hilarious. I do, however, think the Compound is too controlling and way they treat Norms makes it clear that the paranormal community thinks them little better than animals.
I also have my doubts over the basic premise of the book for a few reasons. First of all, it’s terribly convenient that Addie chooses to look six weeks into the future, especially given that all the action is concentrated on the very last day of that period, and in particular, the last night. It would have been more plausible had she looked 7 weeks into the future, and then seen beyond the disaster. Secondly, I don’t really buy that there are only ever two options for Addie to take when she’s using her powers – such as, what if she’d run away and refused to choose either parent? It’s mentioned briefly that the future would have remained basically the same, since Addie can’t use her power to check any other alternative decisions, this conclusion seems shaky to me.
I really enjoyed Pivot Point, especially since my second reading of it highlighted a few details I’d missed initially. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Split Second, soon, and finding out what Addie will do now (and seeing Trevor again). I think this book would be perfect for fans of both the paranormal genre and science fiction since it has aspects of both.