I enjoyed every second of this book. In fact, it was so close to me giving it 5 stars that I can almost NOT justify giving it 4. But I have a few tiny nitpicks, and actually I rated this a 4.5 on Booklikes, so it was a super close to perfect read for me. It's incredibly hard at this point to find a dystopian with some originality. Almost everything has been covered and the genre is so saturated. But somehow, Pawn managed to bring it. The ideas are similar to others out there while being not quite the same.
The world-building might be a bit flimsy (incidentally this is where I made a deduction), but the plot makes up for it. The pacing is breakneck and there is never a dull moment. Seriously, this is one hard book to put down. It's loaded with twists and I actually drooled at one point I was so entranced. That's hard to admit as drooling is pretty embarrassing, but it gets worse. When one of the twists was revealed toward the end, I actually said a few swear words out loud and spit flew out. I haven't been this shocked by a book in a while. Clearly.
The plot is pretty simple. Or at least it begins that way. Kitty is a teenage girl who grows up in dystopian D.C., not knowing her parents because they gave her up since, in this society, you are only allowed to have one child. Kitty is an extra, and thus, her last name must be Doe. She goes to take her aptitude test and is only given a III on a scale of I-VII, VII being the highest. This means that she will be stuck doing menial labor the rest of her life, and since she is an extra, she'll be shipped off to Denver to work in the sewers there. Rather than leave Benjy, her dear boyfriend, she decides to stay in D.C. and work underground as a prostitute (I KNOW) until Benjy takes his aptitude test and then they can get married. On her first night as a prostitute, she is bid on by the Prime Minster himself, and offered a deal she cannot refuse. What occurs from then on is a mesmerizing mindfuck of a book that I cannot recommend more.
And you know, another area where the book excelled was in its characters. I loved Kitty and Benjy, and I loved their relationship. I thought it was refreshing that a protagonist started off IN a relationship instead of falling ass-backwards into one. Every other character was interesting in one way or another, too. Some were outright evil, but a few were ambiguous and I am still not sure what the deal is. I suspect that was intended, and I am really looking forward to seeing what twists the author throws at us in the next book. I expect brilliance because Pawn was nothing less than. I think this might be my new favorite series, like really.
There isn't a whole lot to nitpick here, but due to the lackluster world-building (but I swear, with that plot you will hardly notice) and what I felt was not enough imagery or setting visuals, the writing itself was a little dull for me. Honestly though, it was an almost perfect book and I do recommend it to anyone looking to read on late into the night. I know that's a cliche thing to say but it's true. I read this late into the night.