Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Me on Pawn

Title: Pawn
Author: Aimée Carter
Release Date: November 29, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

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. But there's a catch. There always is. 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 a glimpse into a certain kind of future, one where an all-powerful family reigns, where secrets and conspiracies are born and die daily, where young people are tested on what their future worth to society will be and how those low scorers will never have the chance to advance. Where people are not always valued or treated like people. Except for one girl. She's been given the chance to be someone important, to actually BE someone, but the price she must pay is a dangerous one. It means being a pawn in someone's scheme, and it means her deciding if she will be that pawn or if she will rise up and speak out.

Kitty has resigned herself to a dismal future, one where she'll be barely taken care of by society because her score was so low. She's a bit street smart but she can't read very well, her learning disability impacts her test score and so she's deemed to be not worth having a semi-privileged life, meaning a warm home, a good job, and one day marrying her boyfriend. Her new life as Lila Hart sounds glamourous, but she knows there's a catch. There's always a catch. Kitty just never expected this kind of catch, never expected a life of secrets, lies, and backstabbing, a life of near-constant power battles and the lengths some will go to in order to win.

The book is set in a dystopian future where the United States thrives because of one family, a family that picked it up from ruin and saved it. It's a society that takes care of all its citizens as long as you give it everything you have, as long as you work as hard as you can. Study, train, push yourself to the limit, and only then will you get the chance to be part of the elite. If you don't give as much, if you give the bare minimum, no one will help you. This society rewards the overachievers and punishes the weak, but the system is flawed. When only one kind of intelligence is tested, when only certain skills are desired, only a certain type of person will move on. And that type isn't always the best type.

Kitty is very much a pawn throughout the book. She never makes her own decisions, except for the first one, the one that starts everything. Once she's Masked, once she becomes Lila, she does what she's told when she's told. She's the Hart family's newest puppet, but she has good reason to be. It's play the role or be killed. It's play the role or her boyfriend will be killed. It's play the role or everyone she's ever cared about will be killed. And so she plays the role, but other plots and plans are still happening around her. She will be pushed to make a choice, the choice to continue the role or to fight back and realize she's not worthless after all.

Considering the large number of dystopian YA novels and series that have been published, I found the premise of this book to be intriguing. I was impressed at what Carter was able to pull off with Kitty. There are some overall similarities to other series, but it's the characters, the world-building, and other little details that set it apart. Every misstep could mean death. Everyone could be part of a secret group trying to change the world. Everyone has a hidden agenda. I'm curious as to what will happen next, which secrets are still to be revealed, and who the next person to use Kitty will be.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from HarlequinTeen through NetGalley.)

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