Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)Pivot Point by Kasie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Kasie West
Genre: Paranormal YA
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year of Publication: 2013

Main Character: Addie (4/5)—For once, YA fiction has provided the world with a well-rounded heroine, complete with strength, courage, and compassion. She even thinks before she acts—a former given for characters in YA that is now so rare it’s remarkable.
Secondary Characters: For the most part, you’ll like the ones you’re supposed to like and hate the ones you’re supposed to hate. The only one who gave me pause was Laila. She’s a bit selfish and causes more problems than she solves, but she doesn’t mean any harm.
Pacing: With short chapters alternating between her two possible futures, this book compels you to keep reading.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: While the synopsis was completely accurate, the book was more interesting than the publisher made it sound (also rare). The crime Addie’s father is investigating is one of the central plotlines, and I wish that had been clearer from the summary.
Resolution: I was a little upset by the life Addie chose, but I would have made the same choice for the same reasons. The last few pages will reassure you that not all hope is lost and then set you up for the sequel, Split Second.

The Good: When I saw what Addie’s choices were for her future, I thought for sure that one path would outshine the other. And since the chapters alternate between each life, I also assumed that I would be stuck pushing through boring chapters to get back to the good ones. Thankfully, none of those things happened. Both lives were equally interesting, especially because they kept to the same timeline and often showed the same events from different perspectives. The intersections between the two lives are remarkable. As the story winds down, the stakes get higher and Addie is faced with a decision much more difficult than she bargained for. All I can say is that you’ll close the cover wondering just how much of an impact you have on each little thing around you.

The Not So Good: I suppose there were a few things about this book that I didn’t like. Truthfully, I wasn’t a huge fan of the football injury plotline or the criminal case. What I enjoyed about this book had a lot less to do with the literal plot and more with how the book was composed. I also wasn’t crazy about Addie’s mother or Laila. Neither of them seemed like they truly cared about Addie. Her mother only talked to her to yell at her and all Laila cared about was guys.

Overall Impression: This is the type of book teens should be reading. In a market teeming with novels written solely to tackle heavy social issues, this one is a breath of fresh air. The lessons inside aren’t just relevant to one group or even one age—they’re timeless and universal.

Would I recommend it? You bet I would!

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Mystic City (Mystic City #1)

Mystic City (Mystic City, #1)Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Author: Theo Lawrence
Genre: Supernatural YA/Dystopian YA
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Year of Publication: 2012

Main Character: Aria (2/5)—Aria is an otherwise likeable character who remains at the mercy of her own ignorance for the entire novel.
Secondary Characters: Aria’s “family” and “friends” are ridiculously vapid and one-dimensional. However, they create great foil characters for the Mystics, who are the only people worth anything in this book, no matter how frustratingly little we see of them.
Pacing: The pacing skipped around a lot with this one. There were parts that would drag and others that moved so quickly that skipping a sentence would leave you lost.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: Completely accurate.
Resolution: While there was nothing expressly wrong about the ending, I wasn’t satisfied with it.

The Good: The world within this book is an entirely unique (and not terribly farfetched) take on the future, complete with all the workings of a classic dystopian novel. But this time, the perspective given is of someone at the top. In another break from tradition, the group with magical powers is the group being oppressed. Though the truth remains frustratingly obvious from the start, I will give Lawrence this: by the end, he was answering questions I hadn’t known to ask. There were several surprises in the form of character loyalties that caught me off guard (in both good and bad ways). The world he created was intriguing and complex. He also addressed common issues like peer pressure or the war between following the path set for you and forging your own.

The Not So Good: By the third page, you’ve figured out the who, what, when, where, and why. The only thing missing is the how, and that gets filled in toward the end. In all honesty, I was fed up with Aria and her obliviousness by the time the story really picked up. She can clearly see that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, but can’t manage to put two and two together. I kind of took that as an insult to my intelligence by Lawrence. And I can’t believe that Aria let her family treat her so poorly. For someone with grand ideas of justice and passion for improving the world, she sure lacks that conviction in her personal life. She just wasn’t a very believable character for me.

Overall Impression: This book had good bones. The premise was interesting, the villains were perfectly evil, and the world was well thought out. Portions of it were quite enjoyable, but the inconsistency in pace and Aria’s complete paralysis in the face of her family’s betrayal transformed the book into a mockery of itself.

Would I recommend it? I’m more likely to recommend it than I am to convince someone not to read it.

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The Clearing

The ClearingThe Clearing by Heather Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5/5 stars
Author: Heather Davis
Genre: YA romance
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Year of Publication: 2010

Main Character: Amy (I don’t recall her having a last name, actually.)
Secondary Characters: I liked the secondary characters well enough. They were all distinct and nicely developed.
Pacing: Average. It took a bit for the book to pull me in, but most are like that anyway.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: Very accurate, except that the blurb on the copyright page states that Amy is sixteen, which is not very likely, as she’s in her senior year.
Resolution: I suppose that what happened was what was supposed to happen, but I still cried anyway. I’ve only cried over a couple of other books, so I wasn’t expecting that from this one. I only wish there had been a tad bit more to the last couple of pages. I wanted more closure, especially on Henry’s end.

The Good: This was such an unassuming book. I picked it up at a dollar store, and so I didn’t expect much. Once I got into the main action, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Davis started with a unique premise and created two compellingly real characters. Normally, I find the problems of main characters in YA to be trifling and their reactions to be dramatic, but this plot was much deeper. A story like Henry and Amy’s transcends time and place; they could have been any two people anywhere. There was just something so magical and special about this book. Henry’s family and their little pocket of summer were charming, even against the backdrop of World War II. I especially liked that the historical aspect enhanced, rather than overwhelmed, the main plotline. Davis didn’t overstep or try to make this book something it wasn’t meant to be. It is nearly perfect the way she wrote it. Amy’s experiences are realistic and relatable, while the lessons she learns have gravity. Henry’s struggle between family and fate is heartrending, but his ultimate decision offers him freedom from his guilt.

The Not-So Good: I didn’t care much for some of Amy’s friends in town, and I had no respect for her mother and Pete. What kind of parent moves states without their child, who is still a minor? *Spoiler Alert* I was so hoping that Henry would just beat the tar out of Matt when he showed up. That would have been satisfying. And Amy’s lack of memory about Henry in the last few pages broke my heart.* End Spoilers*

Overall Impression: This book is a succinct coming-of-age story with enough depth for readers of any age to enjoy. The burdens Amy and Henry bear are onerous, yet universal in nature. This book encourages strength of character and emphasizes the importance of pushing onward in spite of our misgivings and fears.

Would I recommend it? I would absolutely recommend this book. It is brimming with important topics such as recovering from abusive relationships, coping with moving on, accepting your fate, and allowing yourself to make the right choice despite the pain that comes with it.

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