Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Hardcover, 320 pages.
Release date: November 15th 2011.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Source: 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 tryi...moreIn 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.
A dark fairytale with a dash of fantasy and a dystopian setting, The Pledge is the latest offering from Body Finder author Kimberly Derting, and marks her first foray into the increasingly popular YA genre of dystopian fiction. Though the ideas explored by Derting in The Pledge are imaginative and her plot twists inventive, this book was overall just an average read for me, mainly due to a cast of characters that I didn’t fully connect with, and a romantic interest who fell flat for me.
Set in the future imagined society of Ludania where women rule and classes are strictly divided by language, I was initially intrigued by the unique concept of The Pledge. Derting’s Ludania, although described as a violent country, is also one based on myths and magic, so right from the off, The Pledge seemed more dark fairytale than terror-filled dystopian to me. However, the citizens of Ludania certainly live in fear of breaking the paramount rule of never looking a member of a person of higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native language. The punishment for this is death by execution, which just so happens to be a favourite pastime of the old Queen of Ludania. Not fun times for Charlie then, who understands all languages, but is forbidden from speaking any but those of her class. She has to be super vigilant and careful at all times. A mistake on Charlie’s part could mean death for her and her entire family. Then one day she meets a boy who speaks a language she has never heard before, but one which she understands, and one which will change her life forever.
Though The Pledge started well for me, my interest unfortunately started to dwindle with the introduction of Charlie’s love interest, Max. If you regularly read this blog, you’ll know how much I love Derting’s Body Finder series, and you’ll also know that I have the biggest book crush ever on Jay, the love interest in those books. So, what happened here? For one, there is a lack of character development in this book. The Pledge is fast-paced with lots of action, which is a good thing as most YA dystopians, in my opinion, focus too much on world-building and are too slow for my tastes. Here though, I didn’t feel as though I got to know Max at all, neither did I feel as thought Charlie got to know him, and yet suddenly this strong, resourceful girl seems to be dependent on him for just about everything. There is a serious case of insta-love in this book, but for me, I could never understand why Charlie was so drawn to Max. He doesn’t seem to have any overwhelmingly positive attributes and is often smart and snarky towards her, character traits that just didn’t work for me. I thought Derting could never ever set a foot wrong with her book boys, but no matter how much I wanted him to, Max just didn’t work for me.
Though it has an interesting premise, is well paced, and has some clever and unexpected plot twists, The Pledge lacks that special something to make it stand out amongst all the other YA dystopians on offer right now. If not for the fact that this is being so heavily marketed as dystopian fiction, I probably wouldn’t have described it as such in this review. The Pledge contains the future imagined society of a dystopian fiction, but there are also fantasy and fairytale elements to the story, which will appeal to many, but which I personally felt left it lacking the edgy intensity of Derting’s other works. While Charlies’s story is set to continue with a further two books in the series, I’m pretty sure that my journey to Ludania, although it was was fun for a while, ends here.