Book Review: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimée Carter

Posted 11/15/2013 by alicemarvels in Dystopian
PAWN (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) Aimee Carter Review




Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Page Count: 346


originality in dystopian (no it hasn't gone the way of the dodo); romance worth rooting for (and NO LOVE TRIANGLE!); realistic heroine who is not perfect or relentlessly brave; all powerful family that rivals the Lannisters for diabolical plots


I would have liked more background on Benjy, or more time with him, but hopefully that will come in later books

An original and thrilling dystopian world with spitfire characters you will happily root for

What an exciting story this was! I keep thinking I’m SOOOO over dystopians, and then one will sneak up on me like Pawn did, and I find out I’m really not finished with these types of stories at all. Aimée Carter has created a fascinating new world full of oppressive danger, and we are quickly sucked into an everyday heroine’s thrilling struggling to survive and keep her loved ones alive.

When Kitty goes through mandatory testing and is assigned her number, a lowly III, she realizes her choices are either to take her assignment cleaning sewers across the country, leaving her boyfriend Benjy behind, or to escape with her friend Tess, working the seedy city clubs in the black market. Very quickly she is drawn into a scheme that has her pretending to be a VII, the highest number possible, as she impersonates Lila Hart, niece of the Prime Minister.

I love the worldbuilding where your number means everything. Kitty lives in what seems like a fair society, one where everyone starts on equal footing and tests to find their rightful place, but we quickly find it’s actually quite full of unfairness and corruption.  The concept of masking yourself and becoming someone else, particularly someone powerful, is incredibly cool. I was surprised by quite a few twists in the plot—Aimee Carter isn’t playing by the normal dystopian book of rules. She isn’t afraid to go her own way and the story is better for it.

I saw an “impersonating a princess” plot line recently in another wonderful book, Tandem, which was more sci-fi, but all the reasons I loved it in that book are here: the anxiety of getting that person’s mannerisms right, the fancy dresses, the pressure to keep your cool, the politics. In Pawn, Kitty faces a particularly daunting challenge. If she wants to stay alive and keep her loved ones safe, she has to impersonate Lila to the satisfaction of the despotic matriarch, Augusta, and her uncle Daxton. But it turns out Lila Hart wasn’t exactly on board with the Hart family’s agenda, and Kitty has a chance to use her new Masked status to help unfortunate citizens like herself, but she runs the risk of losing everything and everyone she ever loved in the process.

Once we find out how truly depraved the Harts can be, it’s easy to root hard for their downfall, though there are some sympathetic characters in the bunch we hope might be spared. The Harts are all powerful, and fond of backstabbing each other. I was reminded of another clan with power and influence to spare, and a strong sense of family pride and keeping up appearances: the Lannisters from Game of Thrones.

Overall, Pawn is a thrilling, original dystopian world with relatable, realistic characters, and I can’t wait to see what Kitty and the Harts do next. The thrilling ending practically ensures an action-packed and exciting sequel.


“They may be weak when the game begins, but their potential is remarkable. Most of the time, they’ll be taken by the other side and held captive until the end of the game. But if you’re careful—if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then?”

I shook my head, and she smiled.

“Your pawn becomes a queen.”

She touched my cheek, her fingers cold as ice. “Because they kept moving forward and triumphed against impossible odds, they become the most powerful piece in the game. never forget that, all right? Never forget the potential one solitary pawn has to change the entire game.”


Check out our interview with Aimée Carter over here, and enter to win a copy of Pawn + a HarlequinTEEN prize pack!

Aimee Carter PAWN giveaway





    I’m about halfway through this one and really liking it. When Knox first showed up, my heart did a little “No! No love triangles, please!” flutter but settled down once it realized that probably wasn’t going to happen. I’m missing Benjy, though!


      Way to use the internet to help people solve prlboems!


      Liebe Joanna, das ist ja ein wahnsinniges Give-Away!! Ganz so wie dein ganzer Blog so inspirierend, wärmend, und von Funken der Liebe und Lebenslust sprüht! Bitte höre nie nie auf zu schreiben! Allerliebste Grüße Ann-Christin C. aus Essen.


      If your articles are always this helpful, “I’ll be back.”


      was thinking about how to do this round of hair and makeup when i came across this blog posting by nathalie. i love how it’s so natural, clean, and simple. for the hong kong reception i had requested


      É tão mau induzir uma criança a olhar um toiro de morte, como induzir uma criança a manter um labrador ou um pastor alemão ou um perdigueiro a espreguiçar-se sem poder dar volta e meia para se deitar, numa pequena alcofa num terceiro andar, sem elevador.Mas havemos de lá chegar!


    YEAH!!!! I just finished this one this week and LOVED it! The Hart’s are very Lannister-esque aren’t they? They were a brutal bunch and I was just fascinated by them. Kitty was an outstanding heroine like you said, she just felt genuine amidst a group of people who wouldn’t know how to be genuine if their lives depended on it:) Can’t wait to see what happens in book 2!


    Woot an original idea and a good romance!


    I really enjoyed Pawn. I didn’t get the “original” vibe as much — it has the same feeling as several other dystopians — but I LOVE that feeling, and really enjoyed the story. Can’t wait for the next installment!


    It sounds like I will like this one better than I did Tandem! Great review!


    I don’t think I’ll ever tire of dystopians, and your review has me wanting to add this one to my collection! The characters sound wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what new and exciting things Aimee Carter brings to the table. Thank you for the fabulous review 🙂


    I recently read another good review for this one. Sounds like something I should check out. I keep saying it, but it’s true…I haven’t read much Dystopia and some of the premises sound good, but most sounds too repetitive. I’m curious about this though!


    Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. I’ve been very curious. It does sound like the same plot, but I really like the sound of the characters. It is usually the characters that will sell me on a dystopian. Brilly reivew!


    Cool as it manages to be a bit different


    This is getting some great reviews and I am so happy to have a copy. I thought I was over dystopians but I reengergized with The Farm and I have this up soon. I can’t wait! Sounds terrific!


    I’ve been seeing great reviews of this! I honestly had no interest in it but all the wonderful reviews have me thinking I definitely need to pick it up!


    Gah, awesome review I passed on a chance to review this, simply because we cannot say yes to everything but it looks like I will be buying this one for sure!


    I am reading this one right now, and I am liking it! 🙂 Great review.


    This one sounds absolutely fantastic, and bonus points because dystopia is my all time favorite genre. I also got this one for review and am now super excited, the heroine sounds awesome!


    This sounds even better than I imagined. I have heard mixed things about this author and her writing so I wasn’t sure about picking this one up. But with originality and without love triangle and nice romance it sounds like a great read. Great review, Lauren 🙂


    Reviewing this next week. I agree with Annette that I didn’t find Pawn original — I think I’ve read so much dystopian YA that there is nothing new left — but I did find it a lot of fun. I was getting SO nervous about a love triangle (was getting a serious Selection vibe for a bit) and was so, so happy that the author went in a different direction. It also reminded me a lot of Tandem, with the doubles and the rebellion.
    Great review!

    Jen @ YA Romantics


    I think I’m one of the few people that couldn’t totally enjoy this. I liked it well enough in places, but it ultimately fell somewhat flat for me. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Carter’s The Goddess Test, so I suppose it could just be a case of her writing not being for me. I’m glad you were more impressed though! I hope the sequel lives up to your expectations, and I look forward to seeing what you think of it. 🙂 Great review!


    I’m usually not a fan of dystopians but after seeing so many wonderful reviews about this book, I think I’ll have to give it a try – the impersonation seems really interesting – the comparison with the Lannisters totally piqued my interest – thank you.

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