Title : The Pledge
Author : Kimberly Derting
Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry
Published : November 15th, 2011
Pages : 323
Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Pledge series
Three Words : dystopian, YA, romance
Red Flags : violence, drug use
Summary : So there’s this lady assassin …. HA fooled you. Finally a non-lady assassin book. But it is a dystopian YA romantic trilogy (which seems to be about the only books I read these days.)
Charlaina (known as Charlie to friends and family) lives in the violent country of Ludania. From the context of the book, it is obvious that this is some future America dystopia where rule by the people has been a dismal failure and they are now under the rule of an all-powerful queen. This matriarchy has been set up with a extremely distinct class system where each class has their own special language that only they can understand. It is punishable by death to speak another language or to even look someone in the eye who is from a better class than you. So Charlie is in the merchant class and she has a BIG secret. She can understand ALL the languages. In a county where you are encouraged to “watch” each other and report on your neighbors this is a big problem. Her parents do everything they can to keep it a secret. To keep themselves from going crazy, the teenagers decide to go to secret underground clubs where they are given drugs and allowed to interact with all the classes. There she meets Max, brooding, dangerous, mysterious, hot, etc… Also, he speaks a language that she has never heard before and can still understand. Can Charlie trust Max? As the violence escalates in the city and danger is everywhere, Charlie must protect her secret and her family in a ever more dangerous world.
My Take : One of the great things about this book is the atmosphere and the world that Derting has built. Ludania reeks of distrust, violence and a general atmosphere of nervously awaiting possible detention and death. In the foreword, Derting explains that she used some conversations with a woman who lived through Nazi Germany to inform her writing and you can really tell. Ludania is definitely a dystopia, fraught with danger and fear. I loved the idea of these different languages separating the classes and that Charlie’s big secret was the ability to understand them all. Charlie is an interesting character in that she is fiercely loyal but actually questions everything around her. When her friend treats her badly, she decides that maybe she isn’t that good a friend at all. I feel like this is something that doesn’t seem to happen often enough in books. She is also brave and resourceful, intelligent and kind. All of which I like. My biggest issues with this book were the predictability of the story and her relationship with Max. I pretty much knew where this story was going from the get-go but I’m even willing to deal with that. Some of my favorite books are predictable but they create such a wonderful world around the story that I just don’t care. I did enjoy this world but I have to say occasionally I got bored. My biggest issue was the whole Max relationship. I’m not really sure why she was even interested in Max….there really wasn’t much going on there. She even says she is intrigued and frightened by him…frightened??? Can we please stop putting fear into the equation and pretend like that is a healthy relationship?
All in all, I really enjoyed this book on the whole I just felt that the relationship could have been written a little bit better. I give this book seven shoes – I’m definitely interested enough to continue to read the series.