Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ARC, 321 pages
Date Published: November 15, 2011
Source: Friend
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.

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 combines the best aspects of future dystopian societies and presents it in almost a fantastical way. This future society has very distinct classes that must adhere to certain rules, including only understanding Englaise and the language of their class. Derting’s world-building is excellent, if not very detailed. The first half of the book is quite information heavy and drags a bit, but once you hit the halfway mark, it takes off.

Charlie is a family-oriented girl and her adoration for her sister is one of her greatest qualities. I can’t help but love a character who adores his/her younger siblings. Angelina, Charlie’s four year old sister, isn’t around all that much, but she’s infinitely fascinating. Each scene she’s in made me want to know more about her.

Derting weaves history into her storytelling in such delectable ways that the reader yearns for more. I’m not much for history – in any form – but Derting’s way of dropping history into her character’s everyday conversations flowed perfectly and never felt like too much at once. I wanted to know more about Charlie’s world, about the queendom and the class system, about the soldiers, and those prepared to fight against their society. I wanted to know about all of it.

With an immensely interesting world and plot, I thought I’d be hooked. And I was, to a degree. Charlie’s constant preoccupation with Max – the mysterious guy she meets – in the midst of everything, grated on me though. I never saw him as anything other than a little too confident and never felt that connection that Charlie does. With everything going on with Charlie and around Charlie, I couldn’t see how this guy was dominating her thoughts. So the love interest aspect fell short for me, but the rest, the queen and the queendom, the class system, and the languages, all intriguing and well done.

The Pledge isn’t quite the dystopian I had hoped it would be, but it is still very much worth the read. Many people are going to wholeheartedly disagree with me about the love interest, and I get that; but I felt like the love interest aspect dominated too much of the story when there were much greater things to focus on. One thing I do love is – as far as I know – this is a standalone and it ends as a very complete story, with, maybe, the possibility of a companion novel somewhere in the future.

Opening line: The air crackled like a gathering thunderstorm the moment the girl entered the chamber. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages:
I loved voices, I always had. Words held meaning, but voices held emotion. ~ pg. 110
And this one:
The silence of a queen is deafening and can stretch into eternity and back. Standing before her, I understood the meaning of forever as I waited for her response. ~ pg. 298
*This is the e-ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy

Definitely a 3.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Kimberly Derting online:
Website | Blog | Twitter

Buy it online:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Indiebound


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Unfortunately, I'm just not sold. See, the problem is that I want my dystopians to be dark. Since THG, I expect bigger and badder, but so many just continue to fall short. It sounds good, but not great. Awesome review, Nikki :)

Lori said...

I didn't finish this one...I wanted more from it, too. I got as far as where the Max fascination starts and then I just couldn't do it anymore. My patience for books is very short lately.

Candace said...

I really liked this book but read it as a fantasy. I don't really think it should be sold as a dystopian. It def felt more fantasy to me and I think more would enjoy it more if they didn't go in expecting a dystopia. Sorry you didn't like it more! It seems to be more mediocre reviews so you're not the only one.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) said...

Like Candace above, I read it as a fantasy. It had some good elements but it was almost too fast, for me. A bit lacklustre too.

I read it as a standalone too, especially with that epilogue, but after I finished it I found out that they're planning a trilogy, even though she wrote it as a one-off!

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