Wednesday 3 September 2014

Book Review - Still Point

Still Point
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Series: Awaken #3
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian | Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd September 2014
Publishers: HMH Books
No. Pages: 345
Source: Review Copy - HMH Books
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
In the final installment to the trilogy begun with 'Awaken', Maddie returns home to make her final stand against Digital School, but uncovers deeply guarded secrets about her family and new truths about herself that will push herself, her friendships and her love with Justin to the brink. Can she really have her middle ground?

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

People's first of anything leaves a lasting impression - your first kiss, your first boyfriend/girlfriend, your first award, your first book, your first review, they each have this little place in both your head and your heart that means you'll never be able to let go of the first feeling, but also that you'll never forget the experience and that is what I have with the Awaken Trilogy. Awaken was my first ever dystopian read and it had a huge affect on my reading, it encouraged me to delve into different genres, it put me in touch with my own actions, but most of all, it gave me the push I needed to find hidden gems that the bookish community couldn't find. How many books in a lifetime create these feelings in someone, god only knows, but this trilogy has an important part of my heart and that makes both trying to review it in a critical format and saying goodbye extremely difficult..

Because this series means so much to me, it's not at all difficult to integrate myself back into the world, especially after reading Middle Ground around a week or so beforehand, so being able to remember what happened in both the prequels was vital to understanding not just the start of this installment, but in fact, the entire thing. That's not to say that everything I learnt in the first two novels was to believed, oh no, Kacvinsky, much to my surprise, is a genius at turning a story 180 degrees, switching character alignments, channeling emotions I didn't know I had and throwing whooping plot twists in both places I didn't expect, and those 'well that's lucky' areas of the story too and I cannot and will not forget how beautifully she wrote this series, with just the right amount relatability, unbelievability and naivety of the world both we, and the characters live in. Still Point continued to carry the story of a world overrun with technology, controlled by technology, addicted to technology, a world where people avoided human contact, didn't and couldn't understand to joy of spending time with someone and didn't want to take risks anymore, and these continue to be the features I enjoy in the series, the features that make me question my own circumstances, how much control I have over technology and how much it controls us, but also, how happy I am with this way of life. Is this dystopian future something that could seriously happen to the world? In truth, I honestly believe that it is possible in some areas, and that in itself is one of the things I most loved about Still Point and the series - it never stops being perceived as possible.

Of course, there are some major points in this novel that I can't talk about; I cannot delve into the plot other than there's some major twists, some absolute moments of joy and other moments of real raw-aching pain, I cannot talk about how Kacvinsky takes this series, flips it's characters upside down, churns them in and out of a feelings processor and really changes the dynamics of one of the biggest features in this series, the romance. Actually, scratch that, I need to talk about Maddie and Justin because they are the reason behind so many of my feelings. In Awaken, Justin develops Maddie to have faith in her thoughts, have strength behind her actions and to fight with what she believes in so strongly and the romance blossoms and grows into something I really enjoyed. In Middle Ground, Maddie takes the strength Justin gave her and started to fight not only with her mind, but with her heart, and as cheesy as it is, their love gave each other the strength to overcome a lot of physical and mental battles which made me fall head over heels in love with the romance, but in Still Point - oh Kacvinsky you - my feelings, well, they both changed and felt ripped from me in so many ways. Both Justin and Maddie developed in so many different directions, not only in comparison to the other installments, but to one another; Justin's first love is and always has been the cause, fighting against the power DS had, so when he fell in love with Maddie, decisions had to be made, choices had to be considered and his own personality changed with it, yet Maddie, Maddie grew into herself, developed a much healthier relationship with her Father which I really did enjoy a huge amount, and much like Still Point highlights, Maddie's traits of being water, never staying grounded, never allowing somebody to hold on, taking people in her currents and being one of the most powerful sources of strength, they developed her in more ways than I could have imagined, and I'll be damned if I'm not to mention Jax and her relationship with him, just - my feelings exploded, my heart both broke and was put back together and while it wasn't the ending for Maddie and Justin that I had expected, it was in so many ways so much better, and I will forever admire Kacvinsky for risking what she did with the direction she took the romance in.

Endings to series are always difficult to review, not only because they hold most of the answers, which in none spoiler inclusive reviews you cannot divulge, but also because they are some of the most emotional reviews, whether they be negative or positive, and it's a constant battle to keep your emotions from running away from you, staying coherent and unbiased, but with Still Point, for the first time ever, I can't do that. The plot twists, they wowed me, the relationship dynamics, they blew me away, the characters that both this book and the entire series had will always have a place in my heart, and Maddie, I connected and related to her more than I had ever thought possible. I connected to this world, this, both vague and brightly lit world burrowed itself in my mind, the beautiful and scary technology both enthralled and disgusted me, but even with the minor issues I had coming to terms with Maddie and Justin's circumstances and the slightly too convenient resolved issue near the end of the novel, there's nothing I can do to keep my feelings at bay. This series is and always will be special to me and I cannot imagine having never read it. A beautiful ending to a really poignant series.

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