I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
I have a love hate relationship with Aimee Carter books.
They always look so promising and then they disappoint. Or at least that’s what happened with her Goddess series. Pawn though, I just had to give it a chance. I mean, that summary, I just had to check it out.
The results….well, there’s hope for this series.
To be honest, I liked Pawn a lot better than I liked the Goddess books, but it had its faults. Faults I’ve seen with Carter’s other books that have me a bit weary about its sequel, Captive. However, I still think I’ll be giving it a chance since this one was pretty enjoyable if a bit cliche.
To summarize what the book is about, think Meg Cabot’s Airhead with your typical dystopia plot thrown in and bam you get Pawn.
For those who haven’t read Airhead, let’s just say that the main character gets an extreme, extreme makeover. Much like Kitty does. The dystopian elements in the story are very similar to Kiera Cass world in The Selection though the caste system actually has a little bit more impact than changing the characters’ love life. That doesn’t mean I’m happy with how the romance is handled in this book, but I’ll get more into that in a minute.
I think for me, what worked for Pawn was its concept. I have to say even though a lot of the twists and turns were similar to what you see in other novels, I still found the novel to be engaging enough. However, at the end of the day there was just something off about it that makes me a bit weary about future installments.
As previously stated, unlike Kiera Cass series, Carter’s caste system actually serves a purpose here other than being an impediment to the protagonist’s love life. However, the reasoning from the caste system was still faulty at best. The explanation that Carter gave was very weak. So, there was over population problems and the caste system was the result of it. Never mind, that I really don’t think the majority of the population is going to go for that without revolting, but what do I and history know? At least she didn’t use the China excuse.
Thank God for that.
And I’ll also give it to her for being a little gutsy and throwing in a virginity auction and on screen killing. Though the virginity auction thing was a little 80′s romance cliche.
However, even though the book could be gritty at times it couldn’t hide its obvious faults. Those faults revolving around the characters.
I’ll start with Kitty, since she’s the narrator and central protagonist to the story. Maybe it’s because I’ve dealt with a Carter protagonist before, but Kitty really annoyed me. Throughout the story, Kitty keeps telling the audience how she has street smarts. But if she has street smarts than I must be freaking Michael Westen because man that girl is dumb. She makes stupid choices. Honestly, if she had any common sense half of the stuff that happened to her wouldn’t happen to her. I mean, if I knew the cops were out to get me, I probably wouldn’t exactly be going to a club where my boyfriend told them I might be. Let alone be in a virgin auction where government men hung out.
I actually was sort of excited to read her point of view too since it’s very rare that YA gives us a non-traditionally smart heroine. I liked the fact that Kitty had dyslexia. I really wish that would’ve been utilized as well as ways that Kitty could’ve been able to adapt to her learning disability, but it was at best a plot point and an excuse to say, but I have street smarts when Kitty very obviously didn’t have street smarts.
It’s sort of the same thing with the love interest. Or interests since I’m pretty sure that sooner or later this will develop into some sort of triangle. Honestly, the three potential man-cessories really lack any sort of personality, save for maybe Knox. Benjy (seriously, I keep thinking of that damn dog movie when I read that name) is only memorable for his long red hair an being apparently smart. Though his interactions with Kitty are for the most part blah. Then there’s Greyson (who obviously makes me think of Dick Grayson, though he lacks charisma and a guardian that has a bat cave) and he was merely there as some sort of bizarre plot point. Really, I shouldn’t have expected much when it came to the romance department based on what I saw in Carter’s past books, but maybe I just wanted to be swooned a little is that too much to ask? Either way, it seemed like it was more or less included because it was a requirement to have a relationship by Harlequin Teen.
If it was just for the characters, I might’ve been able to get over these faults because at least that was expected. But to me, there was something a little bit more off: the pacing. I think this is supposed to be a trilogy-I know that there’s at least going to be a sequel. But holy heck, most of the issues were resolved by the end until we got a lame cliffie.
Okay, to be fair a there was a lot that wasn’t resolved, but the big bad seemed to be taken care of and it seemed like things were pretty much resolved till someone miraculously got their memory back. And why did everyone know who Kitty was.
Why couldn’t there be any Kitty/Benjy angst like there was Em/Christopher angst in the Airhead series? To be fair, Carter isn’t Meg Cabot who has panty melting in YA down to a science. Seriously, if you nee a book series to swoon over check out The Mediator series. Anyway, do we get any of that heartbreaking angst that you saw in the Cabot series. Nope because Benjy pretty much finds out his honey is alive halfway through and their reunion was…well, less emotional than a Hallmark commercial or even that Kay’s Jewelry commercial where he proposes to her in the store.
Seriously, dude the only lamer place to propose is on a talk show when you’re finding out if your really your baby’s baby daddy.
Maybe I’m wrong for expecting something more. But when you have such a high concept book like this, I just expect a strong execution. I’m not saying that Pawn is a bad book. Compared to Carter’s other books, I think it’s probably her best book up to date. But compared to other books in the genre, it’s just meh. Stronger characters, smarter pacing, and maybe deeper world building would’ve helped Pawn’s cause. But hey, it’s better than The Selection at least we’re not blaming China for the end of the world.