Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)

Pawn

Aimee Carter
Harlequin Teen
November 26, 2013
Series or Standalone: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
ISBN: 0373210558
Pages: 343 
Websites:
Rating: 4 Stars 
From the description of this book, I felt like I wasn’t really going to like it. I put off reading it for a long time, as I was worried it just wouldn’t hold my interest. There is a lot of dystopian in the YA market now a days, and some of it just doesn’t click. However, Pawn clicked for me. 
Aimee Carter did an excellent job establishing the world of Pawn. As it is a dystopian, it takes place in a futuristic United States, one that is a distorted version of our current country. The world building did not drag the beginning of the book down like it does in other books of this genre. The world was fully developed, and I found even a scarily possible future for the United States. Each person in society is assigned a number based on how they score on their test; this number determines a persons future. Kitty scores a III, a lower number than expected, which threatens her entire future plans. When faced with the chance to escape from the ranks of the III and be elevated to a VII, the highest rank in the country, Kitty jumps at the opportunity without understanding the consequences.
The main character, Kitty is forced to become Lila Hart after her death. Little does Kitty realize that becoming Lila, becoming a VII, does not make life easier. The Hart family, the leaders of the United States, are a very screwed up family. Corruption, lies, rebellions and secrets are abound, and Kitty is thrust into the middle of a power struggle. Little does Kitty know just how important she is to the Harts as Lila. This screwed up family and political atmosphere had me hooked. I needed to see how all the pieces were going to fall and wanted all the lies unraveled. 
I really enjoyed that throughout the book, Kitty stayed true to herself despite being forced to assume the identity of someone else. While Kitty could have accepted the fact that her life was no longer her own, but instead she stayed true to who she was. Her determination and strength shone through her new exterior as Lila. Kitty could have been followed the instructions given to her by Daxton, Celia, or Augusta, but instead she took charge; she refused to become a pawn to either side. While her life was no longer her own, she still found ways to make decisions for herself despite her circumstances. She made me root for her. I had a few issues with the characterizations of some secondary characters, but I will be interested to see how all the characters develop and grow as the series continues. The romance in the book also felt a bit stale to me, probably because I did not have any connection to Benjy, a character I wished was a bit more fleshed out. 
Pawn was fast paced, filled with twist and turns. The web of lies and deceptions is a messy one, but one that I wanted to get untangled, and Aimee Carter does a good job with revealing the truth throughout the book. The ending was heart-pounding, leaving Kitty in an even more precarious position than I thought possible. I cannot wait to see what other secrets will be revealed in the coming books. Thoroughly engaging and engrossing, with lies and secrets galore, Pawn is a great start to a new series. I look forward to seeing what Aimee Carter plans to do with the rest of the series. 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Series or Standalone: The Fifth Wave #1
ISBN: 0399162410
Pages: 480
Websites:
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I stumbled upon the 5th Wave by accident on Facebook as was extremely worried going into this book that it would not live up to all the marketing and hype. From page one I was hooked. It seems like aliens might be the hot new thing in YA (Icons was also about an alien invasion as well), and if all stories were like the 5thWave, I really wouldn’t mind.
Yancey creates a world decimated by an alien invasion. Currently on what the survivors call the 5thwave of the invasion, no one knows who to trust. Anyone can be one of the others. The world that the character live is one full of sadness, hopelessness, and distrust. Cassie, one of the main characters, is all alone, having watched her mother and father die in front of her eyes and watched her younger brother taken away. Cassie has nothing really left to live for but the slim chance that her younger brother might still be alive. In a world so desolate and bleak, it is strange that there is a small glimmer of hope for each character. I couldn’t help but want these characters to survive, despite all the horrors they have seen.
The writing in this book is fabulous. I was captivated from the prologue. I literally put the book down and told my roommate “I have never been that quickly hooked to a book. That prologue was an amazing piece of writing.” While the story jumps around from the point of view of a few characters, it wasn’t really jarring, and all the characters were connected, as the connections between each one slowly comes together over the course of the novel. I would say Cassie’s perspective, which takes up most of the book, was probably the strongest and we got more into Cassie’s mind and emotions than the other characters.
For a long book, almost 500 pages, I flew through it, finishing most of it in one night. While a book that long might feel like it took forever to get through, I didn’t have that issue. The plot rarely dragged, and I didn’t feel like I had to force myself through any of the sections of the book. I was eagerly turning backs to find out more about what was happening and learn more about this finely crafted world Yancey had created it. When I reached the end, I was shocked to find there was no more book left! I cannot wait to see how the next book in this series is as that ending was killer and this book was fantastic.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey lives up to the hype. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year. This book is full of emotions and managed to provide an entertaining read while also taking a look at what it means to be human. I cannot wait for the next book in this series.

P.S. You guys should check out the 5th Wave and their online marketing. It’s really awesome and I love how it promotes and ties into the book.

Icons by Margaret Stohl

Icons
Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Series or Standalone: Icons #1
ISBN: 0316205184
Format: ARC
Pages: 428
Websites:
Rating: 3 Stars
Icons was one of those books that I couldn’t fully get into. I didn’t hate but I didn’t love it, it was mehh. Icons had a lot of potential and I am interested to see were this series goes, but as the first book in a series it felt very jumbled and disconnected.
Icons is set in the not so distant future in a post-invasion world where aliens hold the complete control and most of the population has been killed. As the tagline says “Your heart only beats with their permission.” It is hard for me to describe what sort of world, Dol, the main character, is living in because I couldn’t really get a clear picture of what it was like. This post-invasion world didn’t seem to be fully constructed which oftentimes left me feeling confused. The politics of this world also were confusing. I did not really understand why things were happening, or why the Ambassadors were so bad or what was up with the rebellion faction. I felt I had to struggle to put together the pieces of this world, something that should be clearly developed in the first book of a series.
The characters in the book left me wanting more. I couldn’t connect to any of them. They were all so flat and emotionless, though as children of the Icon, emotionless they shouldn’t be. The romance in the book felt stale, probably because of the lack of depth in the characters. The only character I found remotely interesting was Doc, and he was an artificial intelligence.
The plot was intriguing enough that it kept me turning the pages. There was plenty of action and mystery to keep me interested in finding out more. I really enjoyed how between chapters there would be different artifacts or clips that related to the plot in a  not so clear way until the end. The biggest thing that kept me reading was the mystery of the Icons. Well, that’s not fully answered in this book, but I look forward to finding more out of them.
As a first book in a series, Icons left me feeling confused and wanting more. I expected more from this book than it gave me. I’ll be reading the sequel because the story was interesting enough to make me want to keep reading, but I hope in the next book the world and characters are more developed. I can’t help but compare this post-alien invasion book to another new alien invasion book, The 5thWave by Rick Yancey, and this just falls flat in comparison to that. Hopefully Margaret Stohl can deliver more in the next Icon series book.