Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: The Pawn

"Daxton offered me his arm, and I had no choice but to take it."

Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
Aimee Carter
346 pages
goodreads link

Rating: 4.5


I was bored, the kind of bored where nothing really seems appealing. I figured a nice YA dystopia would be just what the doctor ordered and I'd heard decent things about Aimee Carter's other books. Take a tyrannical government, marinate it in an oppressive system of rules, add just a pinch of science fiction, garnish with romance and serve on a bed of rebellion. Yum.


I stayed bored. There are other flaws, but that one is the most egregious.

Kitty lives in a future dystopian Washington, DC. America is essentially a monarchy and all citizens are classified according to a standardized test they take at seventeen. It dictates where the live, where they're allowed to go, what their jobs are, etc. Kitty's smart as hell, but she's majorly dyslexic, so her test doesn't go too well. She turns to prostitution, but instead gets picked up by government officials who tell her she'll be rewarded if she agrees to help them out. Kitty agrees, only to find out that by "help out," they meant be surgically altered to take the place of the prime minister's niece so no one finds out she's dead. Politics ensue.

It's not the most novel concept, but more has been made out of less. Unfortunately, it reads like Baby's First YA novel. Everything is shallow, there's no nuance or subtlety. At one point, a character sits down and spells out the titular chess metaphor for anyone who anyone who might have missed it (get it, a pawn can become a queen if she makes it across the board!). The politics are a little too juvenile be plausible and the antagonists are way, way too obviously evil- I mean, seriously, the prime minister can't just be a dictator? He has to hunt humans for sport too? My eyes nearly rolled out of my skull when I read that.

For the first time in my reading history, I wish Carter hadn't avoided the obvious love triangle, because at least it could have introduced some passion. Kitty herself isn't half-bad- I love a protagonist who makes logical, reasoned decisions- but her loyal boyfriend is blander than dry pasta.

Carter does get points for a few major twists that I honestly didn't see coming. At each one, I thought "oh wow, this is it, it's going to get interesting now!" But then...it wouldn't. Those sparks of light never really caught fire. In her defense, I think the biggest (and best) twist is likely to be addressed in future books, which would have been fine if this book was compelling enough to keep me waiting around for the sequel.

There's probably more I could describe about some of the side characters, the "My Fair Lady" portion of the story, but...I just don't care. I have no idea why this book is earning such high ratings. Some things were better, some things were worse, some things were more engaging, some things I wanted to end so we could move on. I read it, it passed a couple hours, it ended. Carter's ideas made for a good foundation, but I wish someone else had built the actual house.