- Pawn by Aimée Carter
Seventy years after the overpopulation crisis transformed the United States government into a totalitarian regime ruled by the Hart family, citizens are forced to take a test at the age of seventeen to determine their productivity level and thus decide their place in society. Kitty Doe manages a lowly III due to her dyslexia, and rather than commit to a life of sewer cleaning and spare meals, she decides prostitution is her better option. Her first client, however, is none other than Prime Minster Hart himself, and he hires her not for sex but to impersonate his niece Lila, whom he had secretly murdered for her role in an uprising. With her boyfriend’s life on the line, Kitty has no other choice than to go along with the scam, but when Lila’s handsome fiancé brings her into the rebellion, she’s unable to resist both him and the chance to improve life for everyone, not just herself. A streetwise girl who finds herself the symbol of a revolution against tyranny isn’t a particularly groundbreaking premise for YA, but Carter interrogates some intriguing notions of class and privilege, and teens in particular may sympathize with Kitty’s frustration with a system that labels one’s fate at seventeen. Unfortunately, the villains are so cartoonishly evil, [End Page 205] both in their scandalous cruelty and their convenient lapses in intelligence, that they’re entirely unbelievable, and Kitty herself seems to survive more as a result of literary necessity rather than any effort of her own. Still, the political intrigue and the layers of deceit among the Harts will give readers plenty to sort through as they await the promised sequel.