Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
A Young Adult novel
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction
YOU CAN BE A VII IF YOU GIVE 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.
A hard copy of the novel was provided by Harlequin Teen for an honest review
Do NOT let the first chapter fool you or even turn you away from this novel, it is so much more than the dystopian trope that it sets itself up as. I would have dropped Pawn in a heartbeat if the synopsis didn't enthrall me, because that very first chapter is what makes or breaks it. Because, like every other dystopian Young Adult novel that has risen to fame over the past couple of years, the first chapter goes a little something like this: There is a female. She lives in a futuristic world where the old word was ravaged by something terrible, overpopulation. She is not supposed to have existed, because she is an Extra, a second child. Extras, criminals, or the elderly are sent to a place called Elsewhere. People are sectioned off in society. A test on one's seventeenth birthday decides their fate in society. Its a number system, I - VII, tattooed on the back of the neck. The higher the number, the more prosperous one is in life. Guards, called Shields, patrol the streets on a daily basis. Breaking the law is punishable by death.
So basically in the first chapter of Pawn, I have covered most of the main points that come up in dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver. Potentially from what I have just given as a basis synopsis of what generally consists of in most dystopian stories, it could either provoke fans of these books to read further, or hinder readers who are done reading the same thing over and over again within the dystopian genre. But I want readers in the latter category to push aside those feeling and keep reading, because Pawn leaps over the dystopian stereotype, allowing that first chapter to provide world-building, and releases an entirely new idea for the rest of the novel. After trudging through the first chapter, and the fact that the heroine's name is Kitty, Pawn pretty much blew me out of the water. And might I mention that Carter is well gifted with turning your head right around when it comes to plot twists. I was rolling around on the floor raving whenever they came up. So +1 for catching the reader off guard in a positive way!
I have read Aimee Cater before, and having loved her Goddess Test series I knew that if I didn't enjoy the plot, I would enjoy the writing. Fans of the Goddess Test series definitely know how well Carter is at crafting her characters and expressing not just smooth, realistic dialogue, but also gripping characters. Kitty Doe, albeit her name, was spectacular to read about and follow her struggle through identity and political crisis, especially when she's in the midst of the Hart family's craziness regarding killing each other off. And I was extremely relieved that there was absolutely no love triangle within this novel. Just one main love interest that was established before the story had even begun. So for those worrying about the dreaded triangle, you can wipe the sweat forming at your brow because the coast is clear and its smooth sailing in the relationship department. The only faulting factors that I found in her character was where she felt that going into prostitution was the only way for her to remain in her city, and still be with her boyfriend--yeah, I don't know how that one works. I still gawk at that even being a decision for Kitty.
The one thing that I happened to really like about Pawn is the theme of identity within society. From the get-go, one's identity is tattooed onto the back of their neck dictating their function in society and how one is viewed in society. And for Kitty, a III means failure. She constantly berates herself for not being intelligent and degrades herself because of her score and the number she was dealt with in her world. She even considers prostitution as a way to stay close with the people she loves rather than being shipped off to a random state for work. The impact of a ranking system in society is one that even people in reality face. Most people are looking to go from rags-to-riches, just like Kitty when the opportunity is given to her on a silver platter, despite not knowing the strings attached. And when she is Masked, surgically made to look like Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, Kitty begins to understand the depth to identity and that she is more than a number on the back of her neck. I truly felt that Carter did a miraculous job conveying the seriousness of this theme through Kitty, helping further Pawn to be much more than its dystopian counterparts.
Final Summation: I was extremely please at the direction that Pawn had taken after the first few chapters. Because of its arrow of trajectory going in the opposite direction from the other dystopian novels, Pawn became a book that I couldn't put down. Complete with strong character development that made Kitty one ferocious girl that you didn't want to mess with, political turmoil that is constantly moving the plot along, twists and turns that are thrillingly unexpected, and the one significant other dynamic, Pawn demands to be read. Despite the opening chapter and the poor judgement from Kitty in the beginning, I still ate the novel up in one sitting.
Four targets slayed