by Aimée Carter

Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: November 26th, 2013
by Harlequin




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.


But if you’re careful—if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then? Your pawn becomes a queen.

chessI’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant to read Aimee Carter’s Pawn, mostly because I had a bad experience with her former book The Goddess Test. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how the story turned out, and the evident improvement in Carter’s storytelling.

In Aimee Carter’s futuristic United States, on your seventeenth birthday, you take a test determining the course of your life. Your test result is listed on a scale of 1 to 9; the higher your score the more comfortable your life will be.

17-year-old Kitty Doe is doomed when she sees she received a 3 on her test. But her scenario is a special one, because, not long after her test score is revealed, she is approached by the country’s Prime Minister, who offers her a chance to live life as a 7 by being surgically transformed into the his daughter Lila. The catch? Lila has secretly started a rebellion, and it’s Kitty’s job to stop it…

The premise is not unlike one from the plethora of other YA dystopians, but it is intriguing in its own right by the fact that Carter adds her own twists and spins into her world; ones that, while not entirely unpredictable, were thoroughly entertaining.

Kitty was a delight as a protagonist; mostly in the sense that she is not the stereotypical kickass heroine we see so often in dystopian stories today. She is flawed physically – suffering from dyslexia – and had her faults at times, but I found her incredibly easy to like and connect with. Her intelligence and spunk combined with her sass made the story quite a bit more entertaining to read.

The world-building here was a bit lax for my liking. I enjoyed the concept Aimee came up with – testing to see your role in society – but it lacked a sense of plausibility. I found it skeptical that the United States would so easily give up the democratic style of government it cherished so much in the snap of a finger; regardless of the scenario.

Despite being skeptical about the origins of the society, however, I did like the way Aimee set up her futuristic world. Using a caste system was an original and thought-provoking choice, and the debates that come with that are extensive.

It was there to give us what we deserved so we could make the most of our natural abilities. The smartest members of society could help people in ways that 2s and 3s couldn’t, so they earned more. It was fair, and without the test, someone who had grown up in a disadvantaged family might never have their talents recognized.

In the end, while I can’t say this necessarily stands out in the river of dystopian YA, it was an interesting and entertaining read, and the parallels to modern-day society were especially intriguing. I am definitely interested in seeing where the sequel goes.


5 thoughts on “Pawn

  1. Heh. Me mentioned? Heh. *grins devilishly*

    The part that never sold me was how they made Kitty TALLER. I could take everything…but taller?! I guess it was because I read Red Rising by Pierce Brown, where they literally did the same thing, but it took months of operations and nearly killed him with the excruciating pain. And in Pawn, it’s more like POP you’re taller and it didn’t hurt a bit! And also “Elsewhere”? I did not get that.

    But yes! We are determined on our tests, eh?! It’s basically the same in Australia too. It’s kind of annoying. I can’t do things I would like to do because of tests. :/ I think the author was pretty spot on there. Although…I have read that in The Selection now plus Legend. *shrugs*

    1. 😀

      Hmm…while I was reading that didn’t really bother me, but now that you’ve mentioned it, yeah, it does seem a little unrealistic. How did she get taller? Like you said, you can’t just magically go “POP!” and get taller (or I would have definitely done that by now… 😉). That and the fact that they couldn’t change the eyes bothered me (it’s called colored contacts people!)
              What exactly didn’t you get about Elsewhere though?
              Was Red Rising good BTW? I haven’t heard much about it, but it sounds interesting!

      Exactly! At first I didn’t realize that parallel, but after reading another blogger’s review, she pointed this out to me and I realized she was spot on. Obviously it’s not quite as harsh and bad as it was in Pawn, but it scares me how easily they can morph into each other.

      Yeah…the testing aspect wasn’t quite original (like you said, it’s been in a variety of dystopian books already), but I didn’t really mind that.

  2. I read this book a while ago and can find myself in your review. While I thought the story was original, there where just some things that, yeah, pretty much like you described.

    You were pretty spot on about the tests! We (in the Netherlands) have them even earlier than high school. After middle school we take the CITO test, which determines which level of high school we attend. We have a low level, middle level and higher level. Its basically the smartest and those who can study best go to the higher level and so on. Those in the higher level are allowed to go to university after they get their diploma. The middle level go to… community college I guess, but have the opportunity to attend University after a few years if their grades are really good. The lower level, attend their own kind of school and have the opportunity to attend Community college after a few years (if their grades are really good) but no higher. I think its really good that everyone gets a second chance to prove themselves after high school. But you really hit the mark there… it is kinda scary

    I hear everyone about The Goddess Test! Was it honestly that bad? I’m starting to be really glad that I didn’t read it…

    Anyways, Great review!
    x Iris

    1. Glad that you feel the same Iris! It’s always great finding people who share my opinion!

      Thanks! At first I didn’t realize the parallel myself, but I read one of the discussion questions (which said something like, “How would you feel if your whole life was based on one test), and I thought to myself, “well, it is“! Thanks for sharing your personal connection / story – I always find it fascinating to see how different/alike school is in different countries; and it’s always great to see how different people react to different things.

      Yeah…The Goddess Test was kind of “ugh” in my opinion! 😐 What bugged me most about it though was that some simple myths were inaccurate. I mean, if you’re writing a book about mythology, you should probably do some research on mythology, right?

      Thanks Iris! That means a lot! I’m off to your blog now! 😀
      ~Zoe <3

  3. After reading your review and seeing how you were able to make comparisons about how we here are graded my interest became more curious about the book, so I think I will see where I can get the book from and dig into it. Super review as usual, thanks!! Your reviews are unbelievable, so well thought out.

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