I am a huge fan of Kimberly Derting and absolutely love everything she writes (even before I read it). So I already loved The Pledge before I even opened the cover. That being said, this book blew me away with how amazing it really was. I absolutely loved everything about it and I desperately need the sequel right freaking now!
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution.
Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom….
I am a lover of words, and therefore language as well. The world Derting created both enticed and horrified me at the same time. Words have always had more power than people give them credit for; in this world, those very words define each person’s life. No one can learn a new language and work towards a better life. Each generation is stuck in the same class, forever and always. Until Charlie came along.
I loved Charlie. She seemed like a meek character, always following her parents’ rules and rarely sneaking out to the underground club with her best friend. Yet she had a spine of steel. She would sneakily give cookies to a boy in a class ranking lower than hers, even though the punishment was very severe. She grew more assertive throughout The Pledge. Charlie was also incredibly loyal to her friends, willing to give up everything for their safety.
Her friends were just as interesting and complex as Charlie. They weren’t the clichéd static friends or even the comic relief side kicks; in fact, their purposes in The Pledge weren’t to further develop Charlie’s story but to enhance their own. Meaning, each individual character had their own story that paralleled Charlie’s; yet, as the reader, we could only see their stories through Charlie’s eyes.
Though it wasn’t all action packed, every scene gave the plot more momentum, pushing it along faster and faster until the final battle with the Queen. Derting has the ability to make even the most mundane interactions with security guards pulse-pounding encounters.
The only complaint I can think of about The Pledge was that the final battle was too abrupt. There was so much build up and anticipation towards the battle and then when it finally happened it seemed to be over before it really got started.
Lovers of words will be haunted by the lyrical, shiver-inducing, story that is The Pledge. Everyone else will be swept away by the continuously twisting plot, the cast of strong characters, an intense, whirlwind forbidden love and proof that language is the ultimate power.