By L. C. Barlow
Published by California Coldblood (An Imprint of Rare Bird Books)
It’s an interesting and difficult task to write a story about a horrible human being being delivered to something resembling the birth of redemption. That is, essentially, what Barlow has done with Pivot, the first in a series of three books following Jack Harper.
Take a lost and lonely child, place her into the hands of a monster, and see how she grows. What will become of her? What kind of person will she be raised to be? How will her actions later come back to haunt and define her? You can imagine all sorts of things may come from such a start, none of which sound good. It seems to me most people would expect a monster would raise another monster. And in some regards, that is what happens. But then our lead, Jack, starts to change. There’s something that has always been there inside, buried, that she didn’t understand.
Granted, I can’t say much more without giving away much of the plot of Pivot. I will say you can expect some horrific and terrible things. And as such, there is very little light throughout this novel. Much of it doesn’t break through until the end. Even then, there is an unease that won’t settle. Luckily for us, there are two more books to follow, two more opportunities for this world to become a little less dark.
Barlow has created some fascinating characters for this ride. Jack Harper, of course, is at the forefront. She’s just human, yes, but her experiences have twisted her into a floundering soul too hardened to simply collapse (as others would) under the weight of such questions as, “Who am I after having done such things?” and “If I have a soul, can it come back from this?”
There’s also Lutin, a being that is difficult to describe, not only because of what he can do, but because he’s chosen to do things against the laws of his kind. Cryptic, I know, but I shouldn’t just give things away here. I am interested to see what he does in future entries of this trilogy.
Though only around briefly (for this introductory book), Margaret Wilhelm left quite an impression. The scene in which she speaks to Jack deeply about the evil and compassion in our world struck a chord with me. A powerful one. I look forward to her return in the sequels, more so than anyone else.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Pivot before or during my time reading it. I will say it pleasantly surprised me throughout. I especially enjoyed the final sixty or so pages in which Jack’s change takes shape. Once all was said and done, I found that I quite loved my time with this book, and was eager to move onto Perish. It should arrive in the mail any day now, so I will dive back into this world shortly. Until then, I can’t help but wonder what free spirited English teachers might want to look this one over for class consideration – Jack’s transformation seems like the kind you could teach about.
Review by Aiden Merchant – This book was provided as a paperback by the author and publisher for review consideration.
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