My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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
So after reading the last two of her books I decided to give Dertings new dystopian adventure a try. The problem when switching from present day to fantasy is that it highlights writing flaws and there were a few here.
The story is told from 1st and 3rd point of views. The 1st is always Charlie's. But then, randomly, we have other 3rds that don't really gel or really help with the story except to fill in a story gap that the author couldn't tell from another direction. I didn't like this aspect and think its particularly lazy on the authors part. Creative writing could have helped here.
And then there's the premise of the story. We're told that there's a big war on, that refugees are entering the city for food and shelter because Queen Elena's armies are getting nearer but then its almost fogotten when we find out the truth between the attacks on the city and who's behind them. Also this 'essence' that the queen is holding in, this creep factor doesn't really come into the story either except at the end when Charlie understands the history of the Queen. But thats it! I was hoping for some backstory here but nothing came of it.
In the end its really about two sides of war trying to use Charlie for their own means and too much of that overshadows what could have been a great war epic.
Characterwise, Aron gets almost forgotten around a third of the way in. Brook is horrid as a friend and if she was mine then I'd dump her so quickly. Max is a little one dimensional and has little personality, plus his insistence on following Charlie and just saying lines that call her beautiful get a bit old fairly quickly, although I admit that he is swoonworthy, he actually had me disliking him in the beginning.
I'm hoping that the second book opens up a little more because this could have been a great book but sadly gets lost in the filler of the story midway. So this is more of a 3.5 because I did like it aside from the gripes and I liked Dertings writing immensly.
You can reach Kimberly Derting here:Facebook: The Pledge Trilogy