Title: The Pledge (The Pledge #1) by Kimberly Derting
Release Date: November 15th 2011
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
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.
I loved The Body Finder series so much, so it's no surprise that I will pick up a copy of a book written by Kimberly Derting. I was stunned into amazement when I first what this book was all about, and I was so excited about it. What if the world you live in is divided into classes? One was superior over the other, using a language you can never understand. What if you live in a place where people die by the hands of a cruel Queen, where men are deemed inadequate? This is how it works in Charlaina's world.
Charlie never quite understood why she had the ability to understand all the languages there was in Ludania, even those that was supposed to be spoken by the royals. Charlie's younger sister is just like her and their parents had done unimaginable things to keep their ability a secret, keeping them alive in the process. But when Charlie met Max, all the secrets from her past suddenly started coming out one by one. Who is Max? How is he connected to the Queen? And what does Charlie have to do with the Queen?
The most fascinating aspect of this book was the world Kimberly Derting was able to build. Ludania is a harsh country, with strict rules and a cruel Queen. A war torn country whose people are divided by the language they know. Now if that wouldn't catch your interest, I don't know what will. I find it a bit shocking just how cruel Queens can be. Each of the surrounding countries were ruled by Queens, where females consider themselves superior than men. I can't help but compare it to stories with evil, male rulers. It just seems to me that females can be a lot more sinister when they do evil deeds, like what was exhibited by the Queen in The Pledge. Maybe it was because she can virtually live forever (as she can pass her essence to the next Queen), that the value of human life is lost on her. But on the other hand, I think readers will find this a refreshing change from the usual male ruled stories.
Charlie is a determined heroine. There's much to like about her character as much as there is to not like. She's stubborn, but she would go into great lengths for her family. She's reckless as well, and maybe a bit too innocent and trusting with people. Her dangerous ability has made her wary of a lot of people. Maybe a little bit more self-absorbed as well, but that's understandable if one is keeping a secret as deadly as hers.
Max, like Charlie, has a secret. He is the grandson of the current Queen, and to her he is a useless grandson. As an act of defiance he joined the military, and since meeting Charlie, Max has been fascinated by her. Not long after he figured out Charlie's ability. Max provided Charlie a lot about her past. However, I'm still trying to figure out what Max's real role is. He's got a strong presence at the start of the book, but I feel like he has faded much into the background especially when a few other characters were introduced into the story. It might be because there were other characters with strong personalities that appeared, but Max, for all his blue eyed, dark haired self, is another swoon worthy guy. Someone who still knows how to do what's right even when his own grandmother is the perpetrator of a lot of evil things happening in Ludania.
For all the lovely things I have to say for this book, I must admit that the "magic" and the enchantment died down a bit along with the ending. I felt like as I approach the end, which was supposed to hold the climax, the exciting part, I felt a little bit distant towards the characters. Maybe it was because I can't help paying attention to each and every one of them, which was hard to do and then focus of Charlie and Max as well, but there was something lacking at the ending. Maybe because after finding out who Charlie is readers would not have a hard time figuring out what will happen next. However, I'd still say that I enjoyed reading the book.
I felt like the ending was neatly wrapped up though, and I'm quite uncertain how they will continue the story for the sequel, because the main issue in the book seemed to have been resolved, though not the ideal way it was to be. This book held so much promise with its premise, I might have expected a bit more. I wish for a more explosive ending, a more shocking end that will leave the readers wanting for more, anxiously waiting for whatever comes next for Charlaina and for the rest of Ludania.
The biggest strength of The Pledge is how solid the world building is. Charlie, Max, even Angelina, Brooklyn and Xander are all characters with diverse set of stories and traits that will fascinate the readers. Lots of drama and adrenaline pumping tense moments are also abundant in The Pledge! Overall, still a nice start of a new series for Kim!
Content (plot, story flow, character):
Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.