Book Review: Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #2), Aimee Carter (2014)

December 17th, 2014 12:33 pm by Kelly Garbato

Et tu, Kitty?

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received an ARC for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program. Also, unmarked spoilers abound for PAWN, while spoilers for CAPTIVE are clearly marked.)

Three weeks have passed since Kitty Doe shot and killed the Hart family matriarch, Augusta, in self-defense; since Augusta’s son, Prime Minister Daxton Hart, awoke from a coma, revealing to Kitty that his claims of amnesia were a ruse; since Celia Hart and her daughter Lila went into hiding, leaving Kitty to continue passing as Lila, both to ensure Benjy’s safety and foment a revolution.

Just three short weeks, and already Kitty and her pretend fiancé, Knox, are at each others’ throats.

After sacrificing so much for The Blackcoats, Kitty feels neglected and used; while she spent the past few weeks touring the country, speechifying and rabble-rousing on their behalf, her allies planned and plotted without her. Now she’s back, but still out of the loop; no one seems to want her opinion, let alone her help. And so she takes a silly, stupid risk, ostensibly to prove that she’s more useful than they think. She breaks into Daxton’s office to retrieve a file – proof that Daxton isn’t really Daxton, but rather an imposter – and is promptly caught, convicted of treason, and sent to the dreaded Elsewhere.

Wearing the face of a member of the ruling family has its perks, however, even in prison. Hannah and Captain Jonathan Mercer offer her their protection (later, Kitty learns, at Knox’s request) – a consideration she initially refuses. And then she discovers that The Blackcoats are everywhere, Elsewhere included. Especially Elsewhere. Home to a large cache of weapons, The Blackcoats aim to steal the codes from the Mercers’ mansion, arming their rebels both inside the prison city and out – and hopefully enlisting a number of prisoners to fight on their side as well. With the weaponry of Elsewhere in their possession, they stand a fighting chance against not-Daxton and the Ministers of the Union. And so Kitty enters the proverbial lion’s den, discovering some rather shocking truths about herself in the process.

Let’s start with what I liked about Captive – namely, Elsewhere. A small prison city, Elsewhere is a brutal place: where rule-breaking captives are pitted against each other in cage matches to the death; Ministers and other VIPs can hunt or otherwise torture humans for leisure and entertainment; and a sexual sadist has been given the keys to the entire operation:

So Elsewhere was exactly like D.C., except the Shields had been replaced by the prisoners themselves, and instead of going Elsewhere, you were sent to the cage. For a candy bar, for an orange – it was all the same thing.

The whole things plays like an especially demented, real world Stanford prison experiment, with upwardly mobile prisoners snitching on their fellow inmates in order to be promoted to guards:

The true horror of Elsewhere wasn’t the hunt Daxton enjoyed so much; it lay in the twisted hope Mercer and the others offered the prisoners. Betray your friends, betray the only family you have in this place, and we might let you become one of us. We might let you pull the trigger next time.

Hannah Mercer was herself once a prisoner; it’s rumored that an affair with no less than Daxton Hart landed her the gig as head of Section X.

I also like that there’s a slightly more diverse cast this time around, in the form of Isabel Scotia, a badass rebel warrior woman of color. And the few major plot twists are delightfully twisty.

Kitty, on the other hand. Oh, Kitty, whatever happened to you? The end of PAWN promised a hero in the making: a young outcast dedicated to using her newly acquired position of power and privilege to help overthrow the social order. Not just to ensure the safety of herself and her family – but to make the world safe for everyone like her. And yet her commitment to the cause seems to hinge almost entirely on the current state of her relationship with Knox. (Because boy troubles are such a great reason to abandon your most deeply held ideals, dontchaknow.) The result is an emotional Tilt-a-Whirl, with Kitty willing to throw millions of her compatriots to the Harts just because she’s having a bad day. In between the mental whiplash and eye-rolling, lines of a certain Clash song kept bouncing around my head. (“Should I stay or should I go now? / Should I stay or should I go now? / If I go there will be trouble / And if I stay it will be double.”)

* spoiler alert! *

When she does decide to stick with The Blackcoats, Kitty’s so intent on proving her usefulness that she fucks up, rather spectacularly, on multiple occasions. Not once, but twice, she takes it upon herself to steal vital information from the locked offices of dangerous men, with no knowledge or input from her fellow Blackcoats. Knox even warns her against it (both times!), because it’s his mission to accomplish (both times!). Not to mention, he’s the more experienced spy….and can read the information he’s in search of, to boot.

The first time, Kitty steals a few files from Daxton’s safe (it’s sheer luck that Daxton’s file contains a picture she recognizes, since she can’t decipher any of the words) – the absence of which will quickly tip Daxton off to the burglary. (Duh!) Probably Knox meant to photograph or photocopy them…a tactic Kitty might have been privy to, if she’d worked with Knox instead of against him. (Oops!)

Instead of learning from her mistake, Kitty takes another ill-advised stab at espionage by breaking into Jonathan Mercer’s office and stealing the codes for the armory. She’s caught red-handed when Knox escorts a very hammered Mercer into his office, ostensibly to drink him under the table and then lift the codes himself. (Nice job. Again!)

And then there’s the whole thing with Noelle. Yes, let’s blab to a near-stranger about an underground “terrorist” group hiding in plain sight and quietly plotting a coup. What could possibly go wrong?

* end spoilers *

So yeah, Kitty of Captive was most definitely a letdown. Give me some Scotia any day.

Btw, cattle? Also have “lives and feelings.” We might not respect or even recognize them, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)


Comments (May contain spoilers!)

Diversity: Scotia, a resident of Elsewhere (and a much more compelling character than Kitty, imho), is a WOC. Kitty suffers from PTSD, as evidenced by a flashback she experiences at the outset of the book (when not-Daxton deliberately arranges to have fireworks set off during a party), but the issue isn’t explored further. Kitty is dyslexic.


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