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.
My Rating: 2 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: I rarely get excited about reading dystopian novels before they’ve garnered a lot of positive reviews, but I instantly put The Pledge on my wishlist back when I first heard about it because it was going to be written by Kimberly Derting, the author of The Body Finder series. After reading The Pledge though, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s written by the same author because the worldbuilding was weak, the characters were flat and the romance … *shakes head*
While I thought it was really interesting to segregate people based on language and it’s not hard to imagine a dystopian world being created when the use of language is governed, Derting’s eventual explanation for why Charlie has the ability to speak and understand any language is pretty sketchy and didn’t sit well with my scientific mind because babies actually have the potential to learn every single language (if they’re exposed to them all on a regular basis). The reason given by Derting for Charlie’s ability therefore isn’t based on anything rational and simply makes the book veer towards fantasy than dystopian. Moreover, this made it hard for me to realistically consider Charlie’s powers (unlike her sister Angelina’s) to be something worthwhile to have.
I also couldn’t really connect with Charlie nor did she particularly fascinate me, especially once Max entered the picture and she began obsessing about him. The romance was blatantly an insta-love situation and I saw no reason for why Max would be interested in Charlie other than because of who she is. I actually scoffed and rolled my eyes when Max told Charlie that he would have found a way to be with her even if she was a servant’s daughter because given who he is, it would have been pretty much impossible for her to catch his eye if she was just a normal girl.
In terms of the ending, The Pledge has no cliffhanger and concludes with a satisfying (but predictable) epilogue. Since the book is part of a series though, I’m wondering where Derting plans to go from here because The Pledge’s plot and the way it ends seems much more appropriate for a standalone novel.
The Pledge will be released by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 15, 2011.
Comments About the Cover: Charlie is constantly trying to keep a low profile so I feel like the cover represents that well.
In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster) for free via Galley Grab.