This new dystopian series opener wants to be a romance novel but skews toward suspense.
Seventeen-year-old Kitty and her true love, Benjy, live in Washington, D.C., more than 70 years in the future. America has become a totalitarian dictatorship under the devious Hart family. Upon turning 17, everyone must take a test that will determine their rank and role for the rest of their lives. Although extremely intelligent, dyslexic Kitty can’t read, so she emerges from the test as a III and is assigned to clean out sewers in Denver. She tries to escape by becoming a prostitute, but Prime Minister Daxton Hart buys her at auction and Masks her into an identical copy of his popular niece, Lila, whom he recently murdered. Thereafter, the story revolves around Kitty’s struggles to impersonate Lila, find Benjy and deal with the constant conspiracies involving the Harts. Carter doesn’t make much use of her new world, focusing almost entirely on palace intrigues instead of the society she’s created. Boyfriend Benjy comes across less as a character than as a prop: He’s useful to the Harts and to the plot only as a constant threat to keep Kitty in line. Meanwhile, Kitty tries to learn who’s a rebel and who isn’t and which side she should take to save herself.
Another forgettable genre entry. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)