Hardback 352 pages/ Kindle 343 pages
Source: E-ARC received from Publisher through NetGalley
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Goodreads- 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.
So I'll just say right now, this one worked for me!! I read Aimee Carter's Goddess Test and really enjoyed it, but felt like it was just a little reserved. I can't say if it was the relationship between the main characters, or the action, but I felt like she was holding back. I don't feel that at all in this book. I read about 30% through this one and felt really excited and then got to the "Masking" part and thought the book would be predictable from then on. I was completely surprised through the entire book! Aimee Carter held nothing back in this book. She goes THERE and then some. I loved it!
So the characters. Kitty is likable right away. She steals an orange from the market for which she can be shot dead for. An orange, because it's her birthday and she basically failed her test. And she is going to be separated from her boyfriend Benjy, her best friend and fellow orphan. So she just wants that orange. It's a symbol- an act of defiance. Kitty isn't dumb, she knows what kind of life is ahead for her and she knows Benjy would sacrifice his life as one of the privileged fives or sixes to be with her. She won't let him. But she's also not dumb as in intelligence. She can't read and it seems she has a learning disability, that's all that kept her from passing her test. She genuinely cares about the people she lives with but her survival instincts kick in after she is masked. Then she just tries to stay alive and keep Benjy alive.
Benjy we see so little of, it's hard to form an opinion of him. The romance is a little hard to believe because of this. I am hoping to see more of him in the next book. He seems to be a good guy, but nothing is as it seems in this world.
Greyson, Daxton's only living son and Augusta's grandson, the heir to the "throne" is the other one that I liked the most. He is sweet and kind, shy and slow to anger. But you know the saying "still waters run deep"? There is a lot more going on there than we know. I wouldn't be surprised at anything that comes out of him. He stays out of the politics and invents things through most of the book, but towards the end, he can't avoid it.
The other characters, whether they were primary or secondary characters, were somewhat one dimensional. But it didn't hurt the story. Daxton and Augusta, the leaders of the world, are just evil. They are the creators of this type of caste system and make sure it is enforced. For the most part, the masses are kept poor, under educated and desperate. Knox, who is Lila's intended, is less than forthcoming but seems to have Kitty's back. Celia is Lila's mother and she is just desperate. A loose cannon and you don't know what important information she is leaving out or if she is putting Kitty in danger.
The world isn't really well described. But you get the general idea. Privileged in one section with heavy guards and it goes down hill from there until you hit the slums, where Kitty and Benjy lived. There is Elsewhere, a threat held over Kitty's head that she and Benjy will be sent there. And then there are hidden places. Cities thrive, but you aren't given a lot of information about who is in the cities like NYC. The buildings still stand, but you aren't sure if business goes on.
The story, that's what blew me away. Every time I though it was going to go for the obvious, it went for something else. Right until the end. None of the characters acted the way I expected despite my urging them to do something! But nothing seemed out of place. So many of the characters are forced to act out of desperation. But how they react to this motivation is completely unpredictable. The story made me overlook any fault I might have had with the characters. And at this point, I have no idea where the story is going. I am more than ready for the next book in the series! I think Aimee Carter really left anything that held her back and went for it with this one. I felt no hesitation in this novel. Characters you don't expect to die do. No one is safe. I expect a lot more loss in the next book. And plenty of twists and turns.
This is a great dystopian, a breath of fresh air from the gritty ones I've been reading lately because we get to read from the privileged side of the world. Posh surroundings, plenty to eat, limousines and plenty of guards. Kitty is a strong heroine who is just trying to figure out how to remain a valuable asset so she can stay alive. Surrounded by three boys who seem protective of her, you'd think she's safe, but I don't think so. Not in the world of Pawn!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review through NetGalley. This did not influence my review. The opinions expressed in my review are my own.
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