Thursday, March 14, 2013

One of my favorite life mottos is K.I.S.S. -- "keep it simple, stupid." That goes for my romantic life, my professional life, and especially my writing life. However, that's just MY personal philosophy, and I don't expect -- or even want -- everyone else to live by it. In fact, I love when authors juggle lots of characters. I love when they weave multiple plot lines into complex, colorful tapestries. And I love smart, wham-bam twists that complicate everything.

I'm looking at you, Laini Taylor and Melina Marchetta.

And now after reading PIVOT POINT and MIND GAMES, I'm also looking at Kasie West and Kiersten White. Both books use dual narratives, in totally different ways but to same powerful effect.


Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)PIVOT POINT's two tracks are alternate realities, which our heroine Addie has to choose between. That's her superpower: being able to see what will happen if she chooses X and what will happen if she choses Y, before she actually has to choose -- which means she can always make the "right" choice. The only problem is, what if both choices suck?

Even though paranormal abilities serve as the engine for this story, I thought it had a surprisingly contemporary feel. Addie is a (more or less) normal teen trying to work her way through normal problems -- like managing her relationship with her mother, making new friends in high school, and keeping everyone from finding out just how unusual she really is. There are two fun love interests (but no love triangle -- the benefit of living 2 separate lives!) as well as a hint of mystery. But what I loved most were the rich, moving relationships between characters.


Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)MIND GAMES's double trouble comes in the form of sisters who take turns narrating the story from their very unique perspectives. Annie is blind and Fia is, well, a little bit crazy. (I say that with love!) See, she's pretty powerful, but she's also young and very protective of her sister, and those weaknesses get exploited to coerce her into doing bad things.

So once again, we have a story about choice, but unlike Addie in PIVOT POINT, Fia doesn't get to know ahead of time which path is right. She simply acts on instinct, and then she has to live with the choices she makes -- and worse, the choices she isn't allowed to make.

MIND GAMES doesn't spell things out for readers, but personally I love getting to connect the dots and fill in some of the blanks for myself. Makes me feel like I'm teamed up with the author. Also, what I really, really, really loved about this book was how complex each and every character was. There isn't simply good or evil, right or wrong -- there's the whole messy spectrum in between.

As I said, these two books are anything but simple. And they both have clever, wrenching endings that brought tears to my eyes. Happily, they're quite satisfying as standalones -- but I think we can expect sequels (or at least companion novels) in the near future.



Unknown said...

Kristan, fantastic stuff! I'm reading Mind Games right now and am loving the complex plot--so clever! Pivot Point wasn't as memorable for me, but I know SO many are going to love it. I don't think I'd want to choose my future. I always want to pick the "now" me. :)

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I love your decision to pair these two books in a review, causing me to rethink them. I liked Pivot Point more but I'm really excited to see how Mind Games develops its world as it left me with too many questions.

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide said...

I actually liked it SO much more in Pivot Point than Mind Games. I liked that the dual narrative in Pivot Point was interesting because it was two alternate futures and from the same person.
With Mind Games, I think I was just frustrated because I couldn't quite get on the same page as Fia. The Tap Tap Tap bothered me. I did appreciate the other POV though because I got along so much better with her sister.
Great post! I love the comparison :)

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

Pivot Point definitely sounds interesting!! I will have to pick it up from the library.

I really enjoyed Mind Games, but I felt like Fia was really the star of the book. Still I did enjoy the dual-POV, because it allowed for different reveals and perspective.

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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