This review and others are posted at Inspiring Insomnia.
Let me get one thing straight. In the dystopian world of Pawn, society is advanced enough that humans can be physically altered so successfully that they can actually take the place of someone else. And not just some Joe Schmoe on the street, but a member of the society’s ruling family. There’s just one little thing that these clever folks seem to have forgotten. Everyone in Pawn is ranked on a scale from I to VI, based on intelligence. These Roman numerals are marked on the back of one’s neck in a ridged tattoo, and that number determines each person’s lot in life. The highest ranking of VII is reserved for the ruling Hart family. Kitty (ugh, I just can’t with that name) is ranked as a III as a result of her dyslexia, and she’s destined for a life of misery. Instead, the Harts sweeps her up and blackmail her into undergoing surgery to impersonate one of their family members, Lila. The surgery is perfect; Kitty resembles Lila to a tee. But the one thing the doctors neglected to do was to fully alter her tattoo. They changed her III to a VII visually, but they left the original ridges of the III intact. Anyone who touched (or even got a close look at) Kitty’s neck would know she was a fraud, and the whole nutty scheme would come crashing down. This bugged the hell out of me for the entire length of the story. The excuse given was that this was done as “an insurance policy” to control Kitty; if she gets out of line, they would use the ridges to prove her a fraud. Are you telling me that this scientifically-advanced society has suddenly forgotten about DNA? Or fingerprints? Or teeth? These are just three ways to positively identify someone, without the enormous risks that her visible tattoo ridges pose.
I had other problems with this story beyond the silly tattoo. I didn’t buy Kitty’s immediate transformation (which was not only physical, but involved a change in accent and mannerisms and the ability to speak like she’s the second coming of MLK Jr., too) for a second. It’s also never explained how America could so quickly turn into a dictatorial society. Even if I was willing to overlook these issues, I don’t think I could get past the latter part of the book, which is filled with one implausible twist after another.
And now I leave you with another addition of Limerickin’ Lit. (Note: the last line of my limerick contains a semi-revealing spoiler.)
It’s amazing what plastic surgery can do
It pushes the dumb and the slow up a rung or two
Be an obedient Hart
And keep playing your part
But watch out for that dude, cuz he’s a fake, too