Pawn by Aimée Carter.
The Blackcoat Rebellion #1.
Page Count: 346.
Published: November 26, 2013.
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Source: Requested from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Harlequin Teen, for the ARC!
YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.
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.
I was interested in Pawn right from the first time I heard about it. A lot of people are "dystopianed out," but I'm still looking for the original stories that stand out among all the others. I'm happy to report that for me, Pawn was indeed an interesting and well executed novel that didn't feel like a repetition of other books at all.
Carter takes what is certainly an intriguing plot idea and turns it into something unexpected and surprising. What starts off as a seemingly straightforward idea quickly proves to be much more developed than it first appears. There are plot elements in Pawn that are common to the genre but I didn't feel like the book was following any sort of formulaic storyline and I was constantly surprised by new information or intentions being revealed. While I probably should have seen some of the twists coming, I was so engrossed in my reading that I just wanted to keep absorbing instead of sitting back and criticizing. The entire situation with the Harts becomes much more intense and inwardly focused than I expected and I thought it was a great way for the plot to play out. It was genuinely enjoyable both from a general reading perspective and from the thought-out, interesting story side.
One thing I'm especially impressed with is Carter's characterization and they way she slowly reveals who her players truly are. I kept thinking I had everyone figured out until someone surprised me, revealing something new. It's always interesting when you believe you understand a characters' goals and motivations, especially in a book such as this that has such politically driven plot lines, but they turn out to be hiding something you never expected. I'm not going to name any names because that will spoil some of the story, but the character development and "unfolding", if you will, was very well executed. Carter makes you think it's all black and white until suddenly you're surrounded by grey, an aspect that I truly enjoyed.
There was a lot about Kitty that I really enjoyed, including her balance of selfless but careful and aware, as well as her determination and her distinct humanness. She is not a flawless character, which was refreshing and made her much more appealing. However, I will admit that there were times I got a little frustrated that her motivation seemed to revolve solely around Benji. I saw other factors at work but it was like Kitty had blinders on and Benji was all she could see. I can absolutely appreciate a good connection and wanting to do everything you can for the one you love (which is what their relationship is like), but this was a complex situation and I wanted to see that reflected a little more for Kitty. I did like that the rest of the characters did seem to see the complexity and that helped to really add layers both to them and to the plot.
I do want to note that I am a visual reader and there were moments in which Carter's writing didn't entirely cater to that. I really like to picture the scenes in my head as I'm reading, but I couldn't always get enough visual detail from the story to do so. I feel like some of that may have had to do with a little less worldbuilding than I would have liked, but I also do acknowledge that that is a very personal, subjective factor. It wasn't an issue throughout, though, and will certainly not hold me back from reading the next in the series.
All in all, I was definitely impressed by the way Carter brought a fresh and interesting take to a genre that is, I'll admit, starting to feel a little overdone. I really enjoyed getting to know her characters and am very interested to see where the story goes next.