Summary (From Goodreads.com)
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.
Author: Aimee Carter
Length: 346 pages
Series: Yes – #1 in The Blackcoat Rebellion
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
At the age of 17, everyone in Aimee Carter’s Pawn undertakes a test – their resulting score will decide their rank, their job, their entire future. Having had a miserably difficult time with the test, Kitty Doe ends up with a III, and is given a new job in a distant city, far from her beloved boyfriend Benjy. The future looks bleak for Kitty.
When Kitty attempts to circumvent her fate, she ends up in the hands of the Prime Minister, Daxton Hart. When he offers her the chance for life as a VII, she says yes, even though she has no idea what she’ll have to do in order to earn that life of luxury. At this point, anything looks better than life as a III.
Daxton’s niece, Lila Hart, died in mysterious circumstances, a secret which has been carefully kept from the public. In order to live as a VII, Kitty will be masked – surgically altered to look and sound, just like Lila. She’ll have to learn everything about Lila in order to impersonate her, whilst trying to stop the rebellion Lila had been secretly fostering.
Pawn had a fantastically gripping plot, full of deceitful characters and unexpected twists. My biggest disappointment though was the world-building. I enjoyed reading about the world Kitty lived in, but at the same time, I didn’t feel like we had any clue how it had got to that point. We know that 71 years ago, the US ran out of food, experienced riots and chaos, and that now they have the test, class system and a dictatorship. For me, the lack of link between the past and present was really frustrating. It’s common in many dystopian series to reveal the true explanation for how the society developed later on in the series, but we didn’t even get the propaganda version of history that Kitty would have been led to believe.
I liked Kitty most of the time, though occasionally she felt inconsistent. When first given her ranking of a III, Kitty decides to work at a brothel until her boyfriend Benjy can take his test. This felt like a pretty unbelievable decision for me – her plans for how she and Benjy would escape after his test felt flimsy, and her acceptance of the idea of giving her virginity to someone other than Benjy felt a bit too easy. I could set aside my disbelief, if it weren’t for moments later in the book when she thinks everything through before acting, and the fact she can’t face the idea of marrying Lila’s fiancé. She also reminds us (very frequently) that she’s dyslexic. Despite her dyslexia, at one point in the story she’s given a note with a passcode, which seems like a pretty fundamental flaw in the plan, and didn’t feel particularly believable.
Despite her occasional inconsistencies, I really liked Kitty. She fights back, she snaps at the most powerful people in the country, and she’s just generally quite feisty. Benjy, her boyfriend, was nice enough, though he didn’t have a huge impact on me. He says some beautiful romantic things to Kitty, but other than that, he didn’t seem to do an awful lot.
Knox, Lila’s fiancé, flirts with Kitty, and hints at the possibility of a love triangle later in the series, though there wasn’t an instant triangle which was great. Kitty never really knows if she can trust Knox, and he makes for a greatly entertaining character, as he’s mysterious, witty and charming. Augusta, the controlling head of the Hart family, will do anything to stop America going back to the way it was when she was a child, and I found her a really interesting character. All of the characters (apart, perhaps from Benjy), felt three-dimensional, and the whole book, both in terms of plot and character, is tinged with grey, rather than being clear cut black and white. Daxton was the least developed, most cliché feeling character for me, as we have so far seen very little about why he acts the way he does, though I’m hoping more will be revealed in Captive.
I really enjoyed Aimee Carter’s writing, and I found the plot gripping and unpredictable. There are plenty of twists, so even if you see a few of them coming, it’s unlikely you’ll see them all! Full of secrets, conspiracies and above all, family politics, Pawn was easy to get engrossed in and difficult to put down!
Buy it? This is one I might buy on a deal or in a sale, but otherwise it’s a library borrow for me.
In a nutshell: Great writing, a gripping plot and intriguing characters, but disappointing world-building.