Release Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
You can be a VII. If you give up everything. For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.
This book took me on a very big ride. Let me start out by saying that I became a fan of Aimee Carter with her Matched series, so I was eagerly anticipating this new series beginning. Plus I love dystopians. When I finished reading this story, I felt sort of exhausted. Now, let me explain.
Some few issues I had with the story were 1) This government ranking system has, in one form or another, been done quite a bit in other dystopian stories, including in Aimee Carter's other dystopian trilogy itself. Although I have to admit that the author made something completely different out of it so that the ranking part was important and central to the actions being taken, but at the same time not so overdone as to overwhelm the plot. 2) This book had an "Elsewhere", which at least one other very famous novel called The Giver had. Aimee's Matched series had an Elsewhere of sorts also, although it wasn't called Elsewhere in that trilogy. So these three Elsewheres from these books may be operated differently, but fundamentally, they are meant for the same purpose. So we have some elements here that weren't very original in this dystopian society's worldbuilding.
Surprisingly, the book had a much smaller cast than I'm used to in a dystopian, as most of the story and action centers around the Hart family who are the ruling government in this society. This was the deciding factor as to whether or not I received any enjoyment from the book. On the one hand, there were several characters in the cast who were somewhat cliched...i.e...the two main villains, and to a smaller extent, "the boyfriend" who was very unoriginal in my view and didn't really offer anything to the story other than to be the catalyst used to yank Kitty around by the nose. I didn't buy that romance at all for some reason... I just didn't feel it. Thankfully, however, two characters saved it all for me. Kitty herself, who has undergone the change to become Lila, and Knox, the man engaged to the now replaced Lila.
I loved Kitty because of her strength of character, and her complete willingness to throw her own life away bravely in order to save someone else. She is faced with so many choices in this book and does what she has to do in order to protect people she cares about. She's tough, strong, and determined. Knox was a winner to me for many reasons, some I can't even define yet. He was quietly brave, trustworthy, very smart, had compassion, but was also very mysterious. I found myself really wishing for him to be the love interest, but at this point, I can't really tell if this is going to be a triangle or not. I'm usually against a triangle, unless it's very well executed, but I'm almost hoping for one here, just because I loved this character so much and think these two would be perfect together.
As far as the story itself goes...I'll have to use the same word again...exhausting. There was so much plotting, moving, counter-moving, grouping, and re-grouping going on in this story that at times I felt like I was being pulled around by my hair in a whirlwind. It definitely made for a non-predictable book, but when I finished the last sentence of the book, I felt like I'd spent a week on the rack with all of my limbs being pulled in different directions. In a way, this was very good, but at times I felt it became excessive.
I know this is a very mixed review and I seem to not be coming down with either a thumbs up or down, but on the whole, I did enjoy the book enough to want to see how this turns out. I love the author, and I'm going to stick with it for sure. Her writing is very engaging, as always.