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.
Once in a while, as I’m reading a book, I think to myself, “I wish I had written this.” The Pledge is one of those books.
The premise drew me in immediately—a queendom divided by language is on the brink of revolution and one girl, Charlie, is hiding a deadly secret. Charlie has the innate ability to decipher languages—a skill that is punishable by death, as it is in the best interest of the government to keep the classes divided. Charlie’s little sister Angelina, also has a unique skill and it is up to Charlie’s parents to keep the girls safe. Despite living in a society where public hangings are the norm and children of different classes attend different schools, Charlie and her friends, Brook and Aron, have managed to grow up fairly well adjusted, doing all the things normal teens do. Until the night of the attacks—it’s the attacks that find Charlie at the heart of the uprising, and from that point on, her life will never be the same.
One of the things I found unique about this book was the idea that all the new nations are ruled by queens, not kings. In fact, male heirs are seen as undesirable and are overlooked. This was such a subtle change, but it was refreshing for once to see a society that was not patriarchal—even if it is far from ideal. Throughout the novel, we are presented with strong female characters who still manage to be entirely feminine. This is a trait I love in books, as I think we need more strong role models for our teen girls.
The narration of the novel switches from Charlie’s first person point of view in the majority of the chapters mixed with third person narration to help give readers insight to other important characters. Sometimes this style of narration can be confusing and distracting, but here, it works. I liked being able to get into the queen’s head and to see what Max or Xander were up to. The narration also helps to pace the novel, adding tension and filling in gaps.
Speaking of narration, I loved Kimberly Derting’s descriptions of her characters. Brook, the wild child of the group, is “allure and promise in one seductive bundle.” Aron, always reliable is, “bright and steady and clear, like finding a beacon in the darkness.” Meanwhile, Charlie describes herself as pragmatic, “I didn’t spend my days dreaming of a different life, of way to escape the limitations of my class . . . I was what I was, and nothing could change that.” Derting’s descriptions help to bring her characters and their environments to life and made me feel like I was in the book with them.
While The Pledge is generally categorized as dystopian fiction, it also has many elements that push it across genres to fantasy. The Pledge will appeal to fans of The Near Witch, Divergent, and Wither alike. It’s a perfectly paced, beautifully written tale.
Just because I loved the book so much, I’ll be giving away a copy of The Pledge along with a great collection of signed swag to one lucky winner—just follow the directions in the rafflecopter form below to enter.