Pivot Point, Kasie West. Harper Teen. 2014. Pivot Point

Kasie West


Alternate universes and all their myriad possibilities live in Addison Coleman’s head. She’s a Divergent, a rare kind of Para-human, and the advanced development of her mind allows her to see the results of choices she faces before she makes them. As amazing as her powers might be to Norms, or regular human beings, they don’t make the news of her parents’ divorce and her father’s move to the Normal world any easier. On her best friend’s suggestion, Addie Searches through her two choices and finds more than she could ever have expected.

I’d heard a lot about Kasie West’s swoon-worthy writing from trusted friends, but couldn’t wrap my head around a science-fiction story like this having that kind of touch. To an extent, I was right: both romances felt lackluster. The boys paled in comparison to Addie and Laila and even Addie’s parents. West creates a side-world interesting enough to distract from the romance, and it was my interest in the Para-world that kept me reading.

Pivot Point rewards careful readers and those who reread, as hints to the plot twists in both universes are scattered throughout the story. There are scenes that become more chilling once seen through a different Addie’s perspective, and they make the reading experience that much more intense.

— Angel

My Dirty Dumb Eyes. Lisa Hanawalt. Drawn and QuarterlyMy Dirty Dumb Eyes

Lisa Hanawalt

Drawn and Quarterly

My Dirty Dumb Eyes is essentially a journal full of Lisa’s thoughts accompanied by bonus drawings of said thoughts. Each section is unique: she takes notes on TV shows and movies that she watches and then illustrates her impressions; the entries about sex are crude and intimate; other portions, like the story about Moose Girl or the visit to the toy convention, are so relatable that they’re like scenes taken verbatim from our our lives. It’s like a visual rundown of the human condition. In short, I wish that every person in the world made sketchbooks like Hanawalt’s. This is a stream-of-consciousness sketchbook that gave me the sensation of stepping straight into her mind. Stop and picture Jeff Goldblum as a dinosaur. That’s what her work is like. Her work is realistic, grotesque, absurd, and beautiful.

— Lana

Unwept. Laura Hickman. Tor BooksUnwept (Book 1 of the Nightbirds)

Tracy and Laura Hickman

Tor Books

Ellis wakes on a train with a spotty memory and a surly nurse, and is told she was in an accident, but not to worry. She’s going to Gamin, Maine, where her uncle and cousin are waiting for her. All will be well, and Ellis should relax and trust that soon she would remember everything. Instead she finds a creeping unease and strangers who claim to know her, as well as a serial killer haunting her steps.

Having only read Tracy Hickman’s fantasy novels, the quiet horror underlying the second half of this book really surprised me. Ellis is the voice of sanity in a strange world, and quickly had me identifying with her. The writing was very strong, and the characters interesting. I’m not sure what genre I’d peg this as: there was horror, and supernatural elements, but they were wielded with a subtle hand. There was a suggestion of romance but this wasn’t a romance, and the mystery is more of a plot point than the type of book. Be warned that the ending makes no bones that this is just the first in a series of books, but if you can live with that, it is well worth a read.

— Sarah

Cover: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Rob Thomas. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Vintage Books

Taking place after this year’s Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars film, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line continues the eponymous detective’s adventures in sunny-but-seedy Neptune, California. Spring break is in full swing, and amidst the beery chaos, two college girls go missing. Veronica takes the case while caring for her injured father and maintaining a long-distance relationship with boyfriend Logan, but she soon discovers a shocking personal connection to the mystery.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line feels like an entertaining episode of the Veronica Mars television series, a breezy neo-noir that’s perfect for beach reading. Jennifer Graham skillfully captures Veronica’s prickly humor, though as a fan of the character’s voiceovers I was briefly disappointed by the book’s third person POV. It’s a satisfying mystery with enough character development to elevate the book over the average tie-in novel, and it’s rewarding for long-time fans of the show. (Though, okay, I wanted more Logan.) I’m excited for the follow-up, Mr. Kiss and Tell, out this fall.

— Kayleigh