The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
The Pledge takes place in the nation of Ludania, which is fairly clearly a post-fall-of-modern-society country, but aside from that remains essentially timeless. The society is divided into a traditional caste system, but the castes are kept entirely distinct by language – each caste has its own language, and to acknowledge the language of a higher caste than your own can be deadly. The story centers around Charlie, a girl in the merchant class, who has a secret: she can understand all languages.
The first half of The Pledge focuses on building the world and characters, with the biggest issue being Charlie’s struggles to hide her secret talent. Although I enjoyed getting to know the characters (the relationship between Charlie and her little sister being one of my favorites), the first half felt a bit slow, with some fairly obvious hints at the plot to come, but no actual advancement.
In the second half, however, we are met with bursts of action and revelations. Although the action sequences were dramatic and invigorating, sometimes it felt like the overall plot could have used a bit more drive. In addition, many of these plot twists and revealed secrets were somewhat predictable. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t still enjoy those twists nonetheless.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the way Charlie acted within the society. Despite the fact that this is a relatively typical dystopian society, Charlie was a part of it, and she truly believed that the way they were living was better than revolution. But rather than making her seem ignorant or weak, it seemed like a natural progression – and one different from the revolutionary girls we often see in dystopias. Charlie doesn’t want to rebel, but she doesn’t sit idly by either. She walks that fine line between having spunk and being a law-abiding member of a society where a slight infraction means instant hanging.
While I enjoyed being in Charlie’s head, we also got little POV glimpses at other characters throughout the book. I must say, I had mixed feelings about these. They did a good job of either providing information and teases that couldn’t be given from Charlie’s POV, which made the plot more intriguing. However, sometimes they also took me out of the moment or felt a bit unnecessary.
That said, I loved pretty much all the characters, and I loved getting in the head of some of them. The Queen was fantastically despicable, and Max was rather swoon-worthy, particularly the note he gives Charlie. And there was no love triangle! Yay! (Not that love triangles are bad, but when they’re in nearly every single book, you just get a bit sick of them.) One of the best things about the characters was that most of them experienced a pretty big change or reveal somewhere during the book. While some of these were predictable, it helped give more richness to a lot of the characters – one in particular that I absolutely loved.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Pledge, but I didn’t absolutely love it. It’s the first in a new series – it ended with a minor cliffhanger, but was mostly resolved (so no ragey hard feelings at the end).
The Pledge is available TODAY – if you’re looking to save your money, don’t go run to buy it, but for a decent dystopian book with some fun characters, check it out at your local LIBRARY.