Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 346 (eARC)
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.
Previously titled Masked.
This is my first Aimee Carter book, so I went into this series completely open to any and all potential scenarios. Her previous series simply did not appeal to me, but this synopsis had my heart racing in excitement. And, in the end, it definitely made me a happy reader!
We begin the story by meeting Kitty Doe, a girl who is freaking out over her eventual testing. As the synopsis hints, she get's a III. She is doomed to live her life in the sewage field or she can live as an illustrious VII--a rank that only the governing Hart family possesses. Obviously, her choice is made up for her, but what she didn't know was that she will be Masked and turned into Lila Hart, the only member of the Hart family who was inciting rebellion against her own blood. As Lila she is forced to choose sides and finds herself in the middle of tangled mind-games that surround the feuding Hart families daily lives. Worst of all, she has to choose her side while protecting the only person she truly loves--Benjy.
Kitty was a strong main character, but I had no emotional connection to her. I was rooting for her and I most certainly felt her heartbreak, but she didn't move me the way I hoped she would. Benjy, in comparison, was a slightly stronger character emotionally because I tended to understand where he was coming from more. Though not as prominent of a character, I often looked forward to his appearances. Knox and Celia were complete wild cards that you hated and loved at different times, but Greyson Hart was a huge stand-out to me. Here's someone who has the potential to be the most powerful man in the world and he doesn't want the power and responsibility. He was an amazing character and I don't think we saw enough of him.
In contrast to the hope that Greyson presented, we have Daxton and Augusta Hart. Daxton is the current leader of the Hart family and he's a dirty scoundrel to say the least. He rules with an iron fist and most definitely enjoys partaking in twisted politics. But the real villain in this story was Augusta. As the matriarch of the Hart clan, though she married into it and isn't a Hart by blood, she pulls the strings. She controls Daxton and his children and the grandchildren and she is someone to fear. She's got this cold exterior and the easy ability to threaten everyone to get what she wants. She can kill you, she can torture you, she can hurt you for the sheer thrill of it. She is absolutely villainous and well done.
Speaking of evil, Elsewhere. That is all I have to say. I have never seen such a disgustingly fascinating and sinister twist before we learn what Elsewhere is--where all the I's go and those who get arrested for being a hindrance to society. ELSEWHERE. Holy cow, guys, ELSEWHERE! What an amazing twist.
What makes this series so amazing, though, is the political intrigue. I find such things fascinating, and I most definitely got what I was hoping for. There was people switching sides, surprising twists, people knowing things they should not, secrets galore. You name it and it was in here and, might I add, it was done beautifully. The tangled web was weaved amazingly.
However, I have to admit, the big reveal of any new epiphany or piece of hidden information was not done well at all. It seemed like whenever something huge was revealed a character would waste a moment or two feeling betrayed and then they would attribute it to the craziness that is the Hart family vying for power and they would move on. Furthermore, many of these plot twists weren't fully elaborated on. They were brought to light, new characters would come back or switch sides or reveal the truth in relation to whatever said plot twist was, and they'd move on. There was no dwelling on the betrayal and the feelings, it was just a series of continually moving on from secrets and betrayals over and over again. Not once did I feel like a big reveal was given the attention it deserved. Instead, this was all glossed over.
I think that this was in large part due to the fact that this was an incredibly quick read. It's incredibly easy to get through because it doesn't elaborate on emotions all that much once Kitty gets mixed up with the Hart's. I get it, they're ruthless and disgusting people, but there is a sense of humanity buried deep somewhere. Why not let it shine through every now and then? Though the book was quick, the lack of detail and strong emotional connection to the most of the characters made it slightly dull. I don't know if this is because this is Carter's writing style or if I just felt a strong disconnect as a single individual reader.
With that in mind, I have to say that this is unfortunately littered with cliches. For people who are supposed to be so mature and dastardly, they care too much about unimportant things. For example, Kitty literally just had to claim that she kissed a guy and all males in the room dropped what they were doing and were ready to resort to throwing some fists when moments ago they were genuinely concerned for her safety. The childishness in some scenarios was a little too much. I am unsure if this is simply part of Carter's writing style, which I found to be somewhat simple and lacking in detail occasionally, or if it was part of the story.
And finally, the ending. I felt as if it was too abrupt. I understand why Carter chose to leave off where she was, but I was not satisfied. I felt like there was so much more that could be said and explained. While admittedly a great place to leave off, it just didn't seem proper to end it there. My heart wasn't beating fast, my breathing wasn't shallow. It just ended, thus leaving me slightly disatisfied.
Overall, a very solid book. Just not one that lived up to my expectations. However, I am eagerly awaiting book two and now that all the initial intrigue and family explorations are out of the way I can't wait to see what will happen next. I definitely recommend this to people looking for a quick, unique read.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation whatsoever in exchange for this honest review.