The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
release date: November 15, 2012
hardcover, 320 pages
intended audience: Young adult
series: The Pledge, book 1
source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
Review: The Pledge was a fascinating read, definitely held my attention from beginning to end, with a few great gasp-worthy twists and surprises. While it didn't quite live up to my high expectation of Kimberly Derting's work, it was definitely worth a read.
The concept of a society segregated by language was interesting. Each class had their own language and the universal language of "Englaise". Those in lower classes were not permitted to know the language of other higher classes, nor to even dare to look at someone while they were speaking a language higher than their own. While I understood the idea, it seemed a little over the top and damn near impossible that the lower classes would have to drop their eyes every time someone spoke a language they weren't suppose to know. It seemed to me that if people were going to the gallows everytime they couldn't look away fast enough, there would be very few people left!
The main character, Charlie, has the ability to understand all languages. She's gone her whole life having to hide this from everyone. Aside from her ability, Charlie was fairly unremarkable as a protagonist. She is self-controlled, not much of a risk-taker, sort of lets her best friend walk all over her. It was interesting seeing her go through day to day, coming across people she is not suppose to understand, and having to hide her reactions. She made a few fairly odd choices that made it hard for me to get behind her one hundred percent. The relationship between Charlie and Max was a little cool (which was disappointing, because as anyone who's read The Body Finder knows, Miss Derting knows her way around writing love). What I did really love was the relationship between Charlie and her sister, Angelina. Angelina doesn't speak and has a few secrets of her own, but Charlie is a fierce protector of her little sister. The character that was the biggest surprise for me was Charlie's best friend, Brooklynn. I started out hating her...I mean really hating every scene she came into, wanting to just punch her in the face! But her part in the story was a complete surprise and I loved her by the end of the book!
This is definitely a very plot-driven story. It was very fast paced (sometimes a little too fast), very intense in parts and exciting. It held my interest all the way through, but didn't really grab me until closer to the end. Like a said earlier, there were a few twists that literally had me gasping in shock, and yelling, "NO!" at the book. However, there were also a few points that never came clear for me (for example, why did her parents stay behind?? The explanation that was given never quite made sense to me). I did like the short interjected POV switches where we get a little glimpse of what's going on inside the minds of Max, Xander, and even the Queen.
A great blend of fantasy and dystopia, I definitely suggest giving this one a try, to make up your own mind. The ending was breath-taking and had both a satisfying close and just enough left open to make me curious about what will happen as the series continues!
Visit Kimberly Derting's site here!
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