Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Pledge #1
Published: 26 March 2012 by Allison and Busby in the UK
Length: 352 pages
Warnings: violence, kissing 12+
Other info: Kimberly has also written The Body Finder series.
Summary : 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 reign.
Review: In this dystopian/fantasy world ruled by a tyrant queen, the classes each speak different languages. The language segregation is strictly enforced, but Charlaina is different. She can understand all languages, something that, if discovered, could get her killed. So she keeps this little fact to herself. And then she meets Max. She falls in love with him, despite the fact she can’t understand what he’s saying some of the time. And he promises to keep her safe. But Queen Sabara doesn’t like the thought of losing her queendom, and a war breaks out, with Charlie fairly near the centre of it.
I really liked the idea of classes being separated by language. At first thought, I wondered how it would work, and after a little while, realised that it happens all the time in modern Britain. So it would be good to see how it worked in a full society with rules surrounding it and such.
It starts well, showing how the Queen swaps bodies. I really liked the scenes with the Queen in it. Even if I didn’t like her. I liked the scenes because you get a good sense of the magic, the way she looks down on everyone, the power that she holds. I didn’t like her because...it’s really hard to like her. Even if she was a great antagonist.
Max and Charlie are good protagonists. They are both strong, but I didn’t really connect or care for them. I really liked Xander though. The big revelation about Max was kind of “I saw that coming” and a little stereotypical. The big revelation about Charlie was not-totally unexpected and a good development both plotwise and characterwise. And the way that Charlie ends the book...wow.
Back to the middle. The world building is good. the dystopian aspects are clear, with the tightly controlled society, and the brainwashed people kind of taking advantage of their place in the society. For some reason, I got a bit of fantasy from this novel as well, even though there’s only really the queen’s magic.
The plot had its ups and downs. There were some parts at the start where I didn’t really care, but it picked up towards the end as we learn various things about Charlie, Max and the situation.
It’s a really small thing, but it really annoyed me-the car, the automobile, was really out of place. I know it’s in the future, but we hadn’t seen much of technology and it just seemed really outstanding, in a bad way, in the world that Kimberly had created.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a good fantasy/dystopian novel that was totally different to what I was expecting in both bad and good ways.