Genre: Young Adult Dystopian / Fantasy
Series: Book 1 of the Pledge trilogy
Format/pages: eGalley provided by , available in Hardcover (320 pages)
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
More Reviews: Goodreads
Buy the Book: Amazon
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
The Pledge is the first book in a new dystopian series by Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder). The concept is interesting and fast paced enough that I read it in one sitting, and the story’s fantasy elements set it apart from other YA dystopian books. The imaginative story is entertaining and full of adventure, which made for a pleasant fast read even though some of the character insight and dystopian world building details were sometimes lacking. I did enjoy it as much as The Body Finder series though, and especially the royalty / fantasy parts of the story.
The series opener introduces a cool concept in which the citizens of Ludania are separated by a language barrier according to class. Learning another class’s language or even looking another class member in the eye in acknowledgement of their language is a crime punishable by death. The ruler, Evil Queen Sabara, uses some fancy magic that keeps her around forever to continue to torment the citizens of Ludania. The heroine Charlaina (Charlie) is born with the talent to understand all languages. Her parents have asked to keep her talent under wraps to keep her safe and to keep a watchful eye over her gifted younger sis Angelina. Her secret is exposed when she meets Max and he recognizes she can understand his unusual language. This starts a sequence of events that cause Charlie’s world to turn upside down.
There are multiple character POV’s in the book, with Max and another character Xander sharing the spotlight with Charlie. Several other side characters are introduced, including a couple other potential love interests for Charlie, which made it hard to buy into the Max and Charlie romance completely. The side characters are somewhat lost in the shuffle of the fast moving plot. With so much action in the book, I hoped for a breather that would allow more focus on the magical origins and Queen Sabara.
The series has a lot of potential, and I’ll be interested to see where it goes, though it seems a bit twisted considering the epilogue. I would recommend this book to fans of the author’s writing, and those looking for something different in the dystopian category. The Pledge is available in stores today. You can read an excerpt of the book on the Simon & Schuster book page here.