Review for Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion #2) by Aimee Carter

Captive by Aimee Carter

TITLE: Captive
SERIES: The Blackcoat Rebellion #2
AUTHOR: Aimee Carter
PUBLICATION DATE: November 25, 2014
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PAGES: 304 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 4 bows

Kitty Doe has agreed to help the rebellion. She trusts Knox enough to let him lead her through what needs to be done for the rebellion to succeed. Above everything else, she knows that the government needs to change. But the longer she pretends to be Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, the more she wonders what side Knox is playing for. Then everything shifts and suddenly she is in Elsewhere, the land where criminals are sent after they are caught, a horrible place to be. From there, revelations occur and things with the rebellion escalate pretty quickly. The question is, how much is Kitty willing to sacrifice to make sure they succeed?

Kitty is the same character I enjoyed in Pawn. I like the element that she isn’t the special little snowflake who must step forward. She has that Katniss attitude of “I really don’t want to fucking do this, but you’re not giving me a choice.” She steps up a bit more here because she actually agreed to stay and help, despite the fact that Knox keeps refusing to tell her what’s going on. It’s funny because he expects her to act like an adult while treating her like a child. He recruited her to help, but he doesn’t really want her help. He just wants a figurehead, a pretty face people will follow. Which shows he doesn’t know her well at all because she’s all in now and will do whatever she can to make this thing succeed, even if her ideas are stupid and childish.

Then we have Benjy, Kitty’s boyfriend. This guy wins my heart over and over. He’s smart and sweet and incredibly loyal. He’s dedication to Kitty is commendable. His willingness to standby her even as she pretends to be Knox’s fiance in public just made me love him more. He’s the best friend that almost never actually wins the girl in the end. No, the girls always go for the cocky bad-ass (AKA Knox). Even though I’m usually all for the cocky bad-ass (Hello Daemon Black!), but I love it when the sweet guy wins because in real life, that’s who I prefer. In real life, the cocky bad-ass is usually an asshole without a hidden gooey center who never changes to anything beyond a grade A douchebag.

Speaking of douchebags, there is still Knox. I don’t understand the people out there who ship Kitty and Knox. The guy is a borderline jackass who constantly refuses to really trust Kitty or allow her any decision making. He’s constantly bosses her around and forbidding her to do things, which is the wrong approach with Kitty. The minute you tell her explicitly not to do something is the minute she seriously considers doing it. In the end, I think he’s a decent enough guy who truly just wants to do what’s right by the people, but he could go about it a different way.

The beginning of this novel is a bit slow and hard to get into. You are thrown back into Kitty’s world with little to no background. I read the first one last year before it was released, so it’s been a good year since I’ve been in her head and a little catch-up would have been appreciated. The slow start (and the cliffhanger) are the reason it gets 4 stars instead of 5. Once you get to Elsewhere, things pickup quickly. You learn so many new and interesting things. You learn about Kitty’s family, which shouldn’t come as a complete shock. I knew pretty early on who one of her parents was. I love the new relationships that develop. I will also say that there is a moment when I almost rage-quit this book. Those of you who know my big pet peeves (::cough cough:: character death ::cough::) will know this scene as soon as you arrive at it. For those who worry like me, have no fear, it isn’t what it seems! That’s all I can say without spoilers on that subject.

I find myself a little tired of dystopians lately. They are being mass-produced and not all of them are tolerable. Plus, they all have that special-little-snowflake thing going on and I’m bloody tired of that as well. But I really enjoyed Pawn last year and I couldn’t resist trying to get this when I saw it on NetGalley. Even though I’m stuck in contemporary mood, I knew this would be well worth the effort and I wasn’t wrong. Carter manages to deliver an original feeling dystopian in a time when they are as common as Divergent fangirls. Carter gives us a compelling story with fascinating characters and a plot that has the right balance of surprise and predictability. If you like dystopians even a little, this is the series for you! Make sure to read the first one though, otherwise this won’t make much sense!

****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

Pawn by Aimee Carter

SERIES: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
AUTHOR: Aimee Carter
PUBLICATION DATE: November 26, 2013
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PAGES: 346 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Kitty Doe is in a bit of bind; she’s been officially marked as a III. AND she’s been assigned to work in Denver, so far away from DC that she has not chance of ever coming back to visit her boyfriend, Benjy. Her choice is either accept her assignment and live her life compliantly or risk death to defy them and stay in DC. Then a third option presents itself: become a VII. Before she can even get all the details, she has agreed because anything is better than prostitution or life as a III, right? Turns out she has agreed to impersonate Lila, the prime minister’s daughter, and that includes major masking (basically plastic surgery) to make her identical to said daughter. It seems, however, that Lila was on the brink of starting a rebellion and it’s now up to Kitty to continue her work or put an end to it. With every person aware of the situation she gets different instructions, but which set would she choose to follow?

For someone who claims to be tired of dystopian novels, I’m reading bunchies of them lately. This, however, didn’t have that overly predictable edge that seems to cloud over most of the ones I read. Yes, the government has gotten too powerful and need to be taught a lesson, but beyond that basic idea, I didn’t see much of this coming. Aimee Carter really gets high praise from me for being able to keep me guessing through this entire novel. I have already been planning on reading her Goddess Test series for a while now, but I’m definitely more excited after reading this. The levels of this particular brand of dystopian made more sense than others I’ve read. At 17, everyone is given a test and their school determines what level of society they will be part of, the brains getting to be scientists or something equally important as V’s or VI’s and the more intellectually challenged individuals get the lower level jobs like farming and cleaning. If you score a I, then you are deemed too dumb to be part of society and are sent Elsewhere. Theoretically everyone has an equal chance at being a higher-up, but once Kitty gets her VII, she realizes that it might not be as fair as she has been lead to believe.

Speaking of Kitty, let’s get down to the characters, shall we? She was easy to sympathize with in the beginning, being marked with a III and forced to leave her sweet Benjy. As the novel progresses, I was equally in supportive of and irritated with her. It’s a tough choice she’s faced with and I know that Benjy’s life is threatened with every move she makes, but either go and help the rebellion or live under Augusta’s thumb. Most of the time, a character’s inner struggle with doing what’s right versus what’s expected is humanizing and grounding and makes it that much easier to connect, but here it bordered on annoying. By the end, though, she’s made her mind up so hopefully book 2 won’t contain so much inner monologue antagonizing over every decision.

Knox, Lila’s fiance, is a big mystery. I really wanted to like him (and did enjoy his sarcasm and wit), but he was too secretive for me (or Kitty) to ever really trust. He comes off a little too smooth so you know he has to be hiding something. Then there is Benjy, Kitty’s boyfriend. He’s so smart that no one has a doubt he’ll score well on his test, and…wait for it…he’s bookish! There are so few bookish males in YA that I can’t help falling for every single one.

Something else that may spark some interest is the lack of a love triangle. Kitty and Benjy are so adorably devoted to one another that no one has any hope of coming between them. I was very apprehensive when Knox entered the picture, but nothing beyond friendship ever develops between the two. Can I say how much I really loved that? How refreshing it was to read a character who doesn’t discover someone new and drop her former “love” like a hot potato?

But my favorite character by far was Greyson. He’s so observant that he catches onto EVERYTHING, especially the things his family tries to hide from him, like the fact that the real Lila is dead and Kitty is her replacement. Somehow in this family of manipulative asshats, he has managed to become a kind and compassionate young man. All he wants is to be able to spend his days tinkering with his inventions, but he’s forced to train for his future role as Prime Minister.

Carter’s biggest success here has to be the villain. Augusta strikes fear in everyone, but wholeheartedly believes in her cause. Despite the fact that I desperately wanted this bitch to die, it was fascinating to listen to her logic and come close to admiring her for doing what she believed was right for her country, regardless of the consequences. It was eerie to read a character so devoted to their cause that they were not only willing to murder for it, but sacrifice their loved ones if that is what it took.

This reminded me a great deal of Sarah Zettel’s Palace Of Spies, with the body doubles impersonating royalty but learning that everyone around is lying or feeding her half truths. It is a fresh twist on a genre that is running a bit ragged. I recommend it for those who love all things dystopian, for those who are tired of the genre, and for those who have never tried it. It has enough intrigue to keep everyone guess and dying to get the next page to find out what happens, a light romance, and witty prose. It has something for everyone and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one!

****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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