Sunday, June 28, 2015
Book Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter
Kitty thought she would be a IV, like the average member of the population. But she's just been labeled a III, and that makes her just a touch above worthless to society. With her career assignment threatening to take her halfway across the country and away from her boyfriend, Benji, she doesn't have a lot of options. Benji will almost certainly be a VI, the top of the ladder. Kitty will do anything to stay with him.
But will she go so far as to pretend to be a VII, a member of the ruling family? The offer has just come. Lila Hart, the prime minister's niece, has died, and only Kitty can pull off acting as a double. The other problem? Lila was heading a rebellion, one that values ideals Kitty wholeheartedly agrees with. And now, Kitty has two choices. Be Lila and stop the rebellion or watch as her new "family" kills Benji.
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://www.aimeecarter.com/
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.
Pawn is set in a dystopian America that isn't so far removed from now. Multiple times, there is mention of things being this way for only 71 years, and it's easy to assume that the 71 years started sometime in the early 2000s. So this isn't too far in the future. The timeframe is supported by the fact that one of the major characters, Augusta Hart, remembers what it was like before the Hart family brought order to an economically ruined country.
Things could be very different now. Imagine being labeled with your value to society on a scale of I-VI, with a tattoo on your neck and ridges under the skin preventing any alteration of the tattoo. One test is what determines that mark. It could have been that way. There's no changing it. Sometimes, it's easy to think it's already that way, just without the actual marks.
Carter's writing style translated very well to audio, and I listened to Pawn through audible.com. Carter has a very strong sense of both setting (overall and scene) and of character. It can be easy to lose a sense of place when listening to audio, but that didn't happen to me at all in this novel. She doesn't get overly wordy when it comes to description, but the details she gives leave just enough to the reader to set the imagination off. I could picture Kitty/Lila's suite at the Hart home in Somerset, and the bulk of the description was that it was opulent and decorated in white. There's some real talent in Carter's writing to give that sort of simple yet full description to everywhere we visited.
Her sense of pacing is strong, and while I do feel that there was a little too much circuity to the plot, I got pulled in and involved in the situation and with Kitty in general very quickly. Carter made it easy to like characters, then doubt them, then trust them again, right along with Kitty. On the whole, very well done.
I grabbed Pawn at random through audible, and I'm glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this plot, these characters (Nox was my favorite), and Carter's writing style. The whole of this novel is enjoyable, and I'm a little upset that its sequel, Captive, isn't available through audible as of my writing this review (Nov 2014. NOTE: It IS available in hardcover here).
For a YA novel, there is a little toeing of propriety at the beginning, but I don't think it would stop me from letting a teenager read it. Relationships are part of their lives, why shouldn't it be part of their characters'? Kitty makes some choices that would make parents cringe, but considering her surroundings and the few options she has in life, it's hard not to agree with those choices. Carter has made someone very real in Kitty, and I love that she didn't feel the need to hold anything back.
Would I Recommend This Book? Yes, I would! Kitty is a capable character surrounded by other capable people who challenge and support her growth. The situation is engaging, the way this alternate America functions is intriguing, and on the whole, it's just a great story. I give Pawn a Masked 4 of 5 stars.
For more information on the author, visit http://www.aimeecarter.com/