The Pledge (The Pledge #1) - Kimberly Derting
Rating: 5/5 stars
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 regime. (Description from Goodreads)
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'The Pledge' lived up to my expectations and more. While I hadn't read any reviews before reading the book, I had been told about a mixed response to the story. I'm glad I didn't have my opinions influences too much. I loved this book. It had everything I would want in a YA book: mystery, magic, romance (especially in the form of a protective male) and an action packed ending that makes me desperate to find out what happens in the next book.
'The Pledge' is set in Ludania; a country ruled, like all others in the world, by a Queen, Queen Sabara. Unfortunately the Queen is dying, with no female heir to take over, because no-one these days would risk having a King rule their country. To add to these troubles, enemies are approaching, destroying towns and causing the citizens of the city to panic. The war with neighbour countries is not resolved at the end of the book; I'm interested in seeing where, or if, the war will continues. I was a little confused at times about the attacks that were made, I might have to reread those parts to wrap my head around them. Aside from the confusion, the idea of war spices things up a bit and provides the action that I crave in novels.
Charlaina "Charlie" Hart has a secret. Despite class divisions that have been created in Ludania, - despite the law stating each class has its own language, only to be taught and spoken in that one class - Charlie has the ability to understand (and speak) all languages, even ones she's never heard of before. If her ability was discovered, she would likely be killed. Charlie struggles to keep her gift unknown. I'm impressed that her parents are able to keep a normal life, there's a big risk letting Charlie out, not that she goes around breaking the law with her gift, but one slip could cause a lot of trouble. You spend most of the book wondering why Charlie has her abilities; waiting to find out what they mean.
I really like the way 'The Pledge' is set out. There is a mix of POVs and styles. We see Charlie's scenes in first person, and she has the most page time, which is good because it is her story and it's better to see more of her and her thoughts. But with first person stories, I'm always left wondering what happens when the main character is not around. Kimberly Derting resolves this issues but switching to third person to follow three of the other main characters: The Queen, ruler of Ludania, searching for the last remaining female heir to take her place on the throne; Xander, club owner with an unknown background; and mysterious Max, with his steely eyes and who pops up around Charlie at unexpected times. I like seeing these other POVs, it makes me feel like we're looking behind the main story; being privy to hidden moments, and the things that get revealed during these scenes leave you desperate for more.
Loved it. Waiting (im)patiently for the sequel.
(Originally posted on Goodreads)