Pawn by Aimée Carter
Kitty Doe’s only chance of having a happy life will happen on her 17th birthday—the day she takes her aptitude test. If she scores a 5 or above she’ll have wealth and prestige, if she scores below a 4 then life will be bleak and difficult. Kitty scores a 3. Rather than accept her fate, Kitty finds herself with an offer from the Prime Minister that she can’t refuse. Kitty will become a 7, but she’ll become entangled in a dangerous game of espionage and masquerading that she may never escape.
At least the oversized eye is obscured by the manhole/air vent/grate? I’m fairly ambivalent about this one. While there’s no Papyrus or Comic Sans in sight, I’m not wowed. The bright blue Pawn in the top corner doesn’t really fit to me; it seems too obvious. Pawn meet pawn! Huzzah…or not so much?
3—> Kitty is basically head over heels for her childhood sweetheart Benjy. We hear so much about Benjy, and yet he does very little in the book. While, I’m usually anti-love triangle, I found myself starting to cheer for Knox the schemer and dreamer. Also, I was really tired of Benjy’s constant hostage/damsel in distress role. Seriously, Benj, if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen!
-Secrets! This book twists, turns and unfolds into a rather complicated, intriguing tale.
-Girl-next-door. Kitty really is that nice girl you knew from down the street or your math class. While Kitty can be woefully naive at times, she also shows strength and compassion. I’d be her friend!
Less than Bests
-Secrets…sometimes this book felt a bit like a Dystopian soap opera. “No, I knew that you knew, that I knew, so I lied about this, and that, and that, and bam, you’re my minion forever!” I loved Lila’s quip about lies being her family’s love language. YES, yes it is.
-First person point-of-view. I like Kitty, you know that, but I couldn’t help but feel that sometimes she droned on and on about protecting Benjy. I wanted some space from Kitty at times. I liked that Kitty wasn’t dazzled by the Hart’s glamour, but I wanted to see the Carter’s world beyond her Benjified gaze.
-1D Characters. Aside from Kitty, our heroine, many of the other characters felt rather flat. Daxton and Augusta were your average power-obsessed, conniving villains. Benjy was just about as interesting as a cardboard cutout of some red-haired teenage box. Furthermore, Knox didn’t get the development he needed to help me fully understand him and his constant liaising between the Harts and Blackcoats.
All things considered
I’m certain Pawn will have devoted readers. Carter nicely balances popular elements from the Dystopian genre (the caste system used in The Selection, the aptitude testing from Divergent, etc.), however, Pawn didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from the genre to really stand out to me. I’m would recommend it to my students, but I’m not entirely enthralled myself.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of Pawn from Little Brown. I received neither money nor transatlantic tickets nor chocolate for my review.