Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter
Release date: November 26th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: #1 in the Blackcoat Rebellion
Source: ARC traded by Kelly/ e-galley from Edelweiss
Rating: A surprisingly entertaining, unsettling read, full of mysteries, surprise reveals, and dystopian delights.



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.

Most book bloggers (me included, sometimes) will readily inform you that on the whole, they are most decidedly dystopia-ed out. It seems like one out of every five books is a dystopian these days, and, worse, they're dystopians we've read before. It's The Giver. It's The Hunger Games. It's Divergent or Matched or etc. etc. etc.

The thing about Pawn is, it doesn't really reinvent the dystopian wheel. And yet for some odd reason, it feels fresh. I truly love dystopians and am so not ready to declare a moratorium on them, and Pawn is proof that you shouldn't, either.

I will NEVER give up on dystopians!

Why? I'm not sure. The world building is pretty typical, with the world divided into castes, an aptitude test on your seventeenth birthday that determines your your career and your position in society, and an all-powerful ruling family who control politics, the media, and every aspect of life. Enter orphan Kitty Doe, our feisty, stubborn, and pretty darn sympathetic heroine has the supreme misfortune to be earn a III on her aptitude exam, meaning she's relegated to a life of cleaning sewers. naturally, she is less than thrilled about this, and decides to do whatever she can to change her fate and stay in the city with the boy she loves, Benjy.

Obviously THE FATES HAVE DIFFERENT PLANS. And by the fates, I mean the Harts, who are the evillest evils to ever evil. They're that aforementioned family in charge of everything, and they need Kitty to become Lila Hart, the most famous girl in the country... or else. Basically, it's like the dystopian version of Airhead by Meg Cabot, a book I found equal measures absurd and entertaining. Carter takes the concept of having to take over a dead girl's life--a girl whose life, on the surface, seems a thousand times better and more luxurious and easier than yours--and makes it grim, gritty, and all kinds of disturbing (ELSEWHERE!!!!!!!!! HOLY CRAP ELSEWHERE).

I haven't read Carter's first series, so I can't say how the characters in Pawn compare to the ones in those books, but I was surprised by how much I loved Kitty. Are her motivations a bit too (read: a lot too) Benjy-motivated for my taste? Sure. But still, I found her relatable and not at all lacking in personality and really great flaws and strengths.

"Would you like to dance?"
I would rather have banged my head against the table repeatedly, but when the alternative was listening to a dozen people talk at once, dancing didn't seem so bad after all.

Kitty, this is why I like you.

 So Kitty becomes Lila, and not only does she have have to convince people that she's her, but she has to stop the rebellion Lila encouraged, she has to become betrothed to Lila's fiance, Knox, and she needs to make sure that Benjy stays safe. Kitty has to deal with being this pawn that's under the control of two opposing forces, and she struggles with regaining power over her own life. What I love about this book is that it's full of tension throughout. Nobody is who they say they are, motives are murky (though I figured out a few characters pretty quickly), and it's full of bad choices. What I mean is that characters are constantly having to pick between a rock and a hard place, between a worse thing and a WORSER thing, and to me that's the cornerstone of really good drama. Or the cornerrock. I guess.


Besides Kitty, the other characters are... okay. My love triangle alarm bells were ringing, but they were false alarm bells, which was nice. (I worry for the future books a bit). Much of the dialogue from the "villains" is a bit on the nose, but not terribly so. They are still effectively evil and underhanded and whatnot. Augusta, though. MAN. SHE GAVE ME THE HEEBY JEEBIES AT THE END. Augusta is stone cold evil SCARY. She's a twisted woman with twisted motivations, but I get her. She's a great villain in that sense. The Masking business is also exceptionally creepy, and Carter isn't afraid to make our skins crawl due to this body snatcher-esque business.

The book, while being massively entertaining and highly engaging, isn't perfect. I was dying for more Benjy development--he's the main love interest, after all, and all I really know about him is that he's redhaired, smart, and Kitty loves him. Oo, and also a bit more Benjy-Kitty development, because what we did know about them together was pretty cute. I wanted to understand more about them. Also, I'm a very visual reader, and Carter I wouldn't say is an extremely visual writer, so I ended up supplying most of those details myself. A couple reveals are like, "No duh," and a couple others are like, "Say whaaaaaat?!"

I wanted a few more world-building explanations, but the things we did learn? HARD. CORE. Elsewhere, you guys. ELSEWHERE.

 Reaction GIF: horrified, stare, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends

I haven't been so horrified and shocked by a book in a while. If you do not gasp audibly, you are made of stronger stuff than I am.


  1. Excellent review! I am only a couple chapters in but I am excited to read more now. Pawn keeps getting pushed to the back of my review stack but no longer lol

  2. I just finished this one last night. Really enjoyed it. May add a bit more to my review before it's posted tomorrow. Augusta scared the living CRAP outta me.Really liked Kitty, a LOT.

  3. Just finished this one the other day and am working on my review. Oh I'm so worried about a love triangle for future books also... the Knox, Lila, Kitty thing just wasn't clear cut enough for me to write it off. I enjoyed this one.. though sometimes a little sloppy but much more exciting than her other series (which I kind of liked, but didn't love). But hey, this one had me gasping and slapping my forehead by the end so I'll call it a success. Great review!

  4. Okay, so maybe I should give this one a try. I've been hearing some mixed thoughts and I thought maybe Pawn was like other typical dystopias, but it seems not to be. And I'm glad no love triangle exists just yet. There are a lot of twists I'm looking forward to, like Elsewhere. Great review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  5. I AM READING THIS RIGHT NOW! So I will not read your review so I go in with an open mind, but remind me to come back in a few days so that I can fully tell you my thoughts! Yes.

  6. I agree very much with the surprise that Pawn was fresh. I honestly was happy that there wasn't as much focus on the romance, though I agree that I'm worried about future books. I'm hoping that Carter is making a deliberate statement against love triangles and romance heavy YA :D

  7. Aw, yay! I'm glad you enjoyed it a lot :D I still need to read it.. but hoping to do so soon. <3 glad there wasn't a love triangle, like you were worried about. Makes me happy :) Just, please, don't let there be one in book two.. anyway. Loved your review :D And hoping I will enjoy this book just as much as you did. <3

  8. This sounds wonderful! I love dystopians, so it's nice when someone manages to make them feel new :) And I'm always excited when there's not a love triangle. Thanks for the review!

  9. I'm exciiiiiiiiited! I really disliked Ms. Carter's other series, but I can't remember the last time a book made me gasp. I want to know what (who?) Elsewhere is!

  10. I'm quite excited to read this one, cause so far I'm barely 3% into the book, so nothing much has happened!
    But great to know it was a very worthy read!

  11. After finishing AC's GODDESS trilogy I was really on the fence about this one. I had some nitpicks and some serious issues with the GT trilogy BUT I do think AC is, for the most part, a decent author. And the premise of this one is ACES. Now that I've read about a half dozen reviews that are all positive for the most part, I'm more excited. And your review, Gilly, has me DEFINITELY pumped. The way you described this Elsewhere, the way you talked about Augusta, and Kitty having to as Lila, put down a rebellion. EXCITED. I'll probably read this one after all! :D

  12. You know, I actually found Kitty's fixation on Benjy's safety and life to be rather refreshing. It helped me look past some of the more stereotypical aspects of this dystopian world, and it was just nice to have a teen who really cared about someone else. I liked that they were already in an established relationship, and that the challenges weren't "does he like me?" "doesn't he?" as much as more defined and complex conflicts.
    I actually have read some stories that are very reminiscent of Elsewhere. So I guess I was jaded on that aspect. But Augusta was super creepy, as was the whole masking concept.
    Great review!


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