When you first hear of Pawn, I totally wouldn't blame you if your reaction is, "Oh boy, here we go, yet *another* dystopia..." It may have popped up in my head as well. But I love dystopias a whole whole lot, so I wasn't ready to give up on the genre just yet. And it turned out quite well - because while it's not a flawless book, it did have certain qualities that reaffirm my love for the genre.
First off, I really like the world Aimee Carter created here. As far as dystopias go, it was well thought out (though maybe not the most original). People in this society live in castes, I'm pretty sure you're used to that. But the caste system is based on a dramatized version of the American Dream: work hard and you'll be rewarded. You are in control of your own worth. When people turn 17 in this society, they take a test, and depending on how high they score, they get a rank from I - VII, VII being the highest (and consequently assigned solely to the Prime Minister and his family because nepotism ftw). Your rank determines your job, products you're allowed to buy, where you live, etc. Obviously there are flaws in that system - but that's why it's a dystopia. But I really felt like in essence, this is when dystopias work for me: you take a concept present in today's society and extrapolate it to a highly dramatized version. It worked for me. I was instantly drawn into the world.
So Kitty, a second child which is already outlawed and means she's been abandoned since birth, who also happens to have a learning disability and is unable to read, takes her test when she turns 17 and is classified as a III, meaning she would need to move to Denver (leaving her boyfriend) to work in the sewers. I know. Charming. Obviously, she isn't very happy with that. But then she is offered the chance to become a VII and winds up having to take the place of the Prime Minister's niece.
Anyway, as she learns to adapt to her new life, she is shown how awful the government that she mostly still believed in actually is. She sees dark sides - downright creepy sides, guys. I was shocked at some of the things... seriously. She strives to protect her (ex-)boyfriend, Benjy, and meanwhile has to pretend to be engaged to and in love with Knox. It kind of looks like a love triangle for a while, but it's not really, though it may turn into that later in the series. Which I would be totally okay with, because I have a shit ton of Knox feels. Like a lot. A lot a lot. I love him very much. *nod nod* So I won't comment too much on the actual romance in this book because, to me, it was quite boring. But I could deal with that because I was really enjoying the story.
I had big problems with the ending, which greatly contributs to this lower rating. [spoiler]So, Augusta, the Prime Minister's mother who in effect controls the whole society, is dead and it appears that Daxton, the Prime Minister, has lost his memories about Kitty being a replacement and having tried to kill him. Even so, Daxton is a HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING. Let's not forget that he hunts people for sport, grinning like a maniac while he does. The fact that he forgot about Kitty doesn't change that - he was just as awful before. Kitty has him at her mercy and... doesn't. freaking. kill. him. Honestly. Why? That would have put an end to it. Seriously. The whole corrupt head of the government would have been overthrown right there.[/spoiler] "BUT NO, DEBBY, WE CAN'T END HERE, WE NEED TO MAKE THIS A TRILOGY AND YOU'RE GOING TO BUY INTO IT, MUWAHAHAHAHA."
And you know what? ...It's true, too. I'll probably keep reading. ...But that doesn't mean I approve of this ending. At all. No no. Whyyyyy?
I won't be calling this the most original dystopia on the block, but it's far from the worst. I definitely enjoyed it and feel like it ultimately brought something new to the table. I liked the world building, and I loved the secondary characters and their relationships - particularly Knox. That ending though feels like such a cop out and makes me really mad. *sigh* We just can't have it all, I guess. So while this is not the best dystopia, if you're a fan of the genre, I'd still suggest you check this out, because, if anything, it is a very entertaining thrill ride.
Generally, I liked it.
Fans of dystopias.