**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
The Pledge, Kimberly Derting
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.
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. (source:goodreads)
Cover- For some reason, I'm incredibly drawn to this cover. Painting the majority of it one color (in this case, black) makes way for the girl to pop, but only in little bits (you get an arm and half a face, so). I mean, it's a pretty-girl-on-the-cover kind of cover, but it's not the kind that you normally see with this behold, all, I have the power kind of attitude. It's more like she's hiding, or at least that's the gist I get. Which fits in really well with the theme of, you know, hiding.
And the title is small, but not so small it's unreadable. I really love when cover designers manage to do this, when they don't have to shout the title to make themselves heard. It's small and simple, and I find the faded letters spelling out "pledge" in the background to be an infinitely subtle yet cool design choice.
Narrative-The point of view was really interesting. The majority of the book is told in first person from Charlie's point of view; occasionally, however, it slips to different people: the Queen, Max, or another character by the name of Xavier. Those three POVs are told from third-person. Together, it actually intrigued me. I'd read books before with different POVs, but it usually remained in either first or third-person, so it was really refreshing to read something that pulled these two together to tell a story. It was jarring at first, but it enabled me to keep Charlie as the focus, since hers was the only view in which I was directly in her head.
Kudos, Derting. Definite brownie points, there.
Besides that, I've really got nothing to say besides it was a smooth read. Unless I'm forgetting something. In which I sincerely apologize.
Plot-Just a warning, I think this is one of those places where it starts to get dicey.
I love the idea of the world that Derting created: different languages for different classes and all that jazz. It's not even an uncommon idea; it wasn't too long ago in our own history where only those who could afford it (ie, the rich) could go to school and learn Latin and French and all that. And the magic mixed in? Totally cool, not even kidding. And not only does Charlie have this ability to understand any and all languages (even ones she's never heard before), her little sister has cool magic abilities, too.
Put frankly: I love the mix of magic and crumbling society. I loved Charlie's role in just wanting to remain quiet, and I love that, in the background, there's this need she feels to protect her own country against the rebellions suffocating her world. Her eventual inclusion into the underground rebellion was fantastic, too.
What got me was the pacing. I loved the plot (see above) but I feel like it was condensed, like there were things taken out that should have stayed, if only to make some of the transitions a bit smoother. So that made it a tiny bit of a jerky ride for me.
Characters-The characters were fantastic. Charlie was spunky, but knew how to survive in her world; the Queen was deliciously evil and wicked, and it wasn't overplayed to make it tacky; Brooklyn was the sweet best friend with a weird alter-ego; Max was that weird stranger who was also mysterious, that guy who you want to stay away from but you also want to be near at the same time.
Admittedly, Brooklyn's alter-ego was a bit like a switch. Like BAM this girl is somebody else. It kind of ties back into what I said about the plot, where I felt like something was missing, but I was willing to overlook it for the most part.
And tying on to that, I feel like there could have been more, overall, to the entire cast in terms of development. I mean, in the end it kind of became predictable how each character would act, which is both a good and a bad thing.
Regardless, I'm feeling generous:
So I guess this wasn't the most brilliant thing I'd ever read, but it wasn't a complete let-down. I enjoyed it, which, above all, is the most important thing for a book. It's not necessarily at the top of my recommendation list, but I did like it.
As in, the sequel is already in my Nook library, waiting to be read.
Final Answer: 4 /5