The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Published November 15, 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry
Series: The Pledge, #1
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.
I pledge to keep you safe.
In Ludania, your language is determined by your class. You’re not allowed to speak any other language, unless it’s the common tongue, Englaise. If someone above your class starts speaking a different language, then the law says you must look down at the ground. If you don’t, you get beheaded. How pleasant.
Charlie is of the vendor class, so she’s supposed to understand only Parshon and Englaise. But she’s got a Big Secret- she can actually understand and speak all languages. But since this would get her killed, she must keep quiet and never let on that she understands more than she should.
But then one day she makes a mistake. She looks right at someone who’s speaking to her in Termani, the language of the Counsel class, and a soldier notices. This soldier is Max, and he has a Big Secret too.
I have two big problems with this book. The biggest issue was the whole romance between Charlie and Max. It just popped out of nowhere and it didn’t make sense. Max was “intrigued” by Charlie, and Charlie and couldn’t keep Max out of her head. What a love story! They don’t have any kind of chemistry to make me like them as a couple. Boring.
My second issue was the Queen. She’s supposed to be absolutely terrifying and twisted, but you only really see that in the beginning of the book. I wanted to see more of her and I wanted her to be that scary throughout the whole book. When I read the prologue I got shivers. The rest of the time she just seemed like some tiny fragile thing. The rebels should’ve just walked up and killed her! Problem solved.
To me, The Pledge felt more like a fantasy than a dystopian. There are dystopian messages in the book – there’s a lot of talk about the people being oppressed and wishes for freedom and there’s a loudspeaker blasting messages about loyalty to one’s Queen and country, and so on – but Ludania feels like a made-up country instead of a new country built upon the old America. And then the characters are usually named after old cities, like Sydney, Brooklynn, and Cheyenne. And of course, there’s the fact that the common language is Englaise. If the book wasn’t specifically listed as dystopian, I would be very confused.
I didn’t much care for Charlie, but I loved her sister Angelina. She doesn’t speak, but she’s so sweet and smart and the sisters love each other so much. I’m curious why she doesn’t speak for so long, though. Hopefully it’s covered in the second book.
I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a dystopian about monarchies and revolution. It’s worth a try, anyway.
Rating: 3 stars
The Pledge Series
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