Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Release Date: November 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 323 pages
Source & Format: Birthday gift; Kindle e-book
Series: The Pledge #1

Summary (from Goodreads)
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking at a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking in their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the language of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can be really 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 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.

Thoughts on The Pledge
I expected this book to be a dystopia. I think it's technically classified as one, but definitely didn't read like one. In Kimberly Derting's world, democracy no longer exists and the country of Ludania (previously the USA?) is ruled by a queen. Society is divided by language. Englaise is spoken by everyone, but each class also has their own language. Charlaina, as a member of the vendor class, is supposed to only know Pashon and Englaise. The only problem? She can understand every language, and it's against the law to acknowledge a different language.

Re-read that paragraph and tell me if it sounds anything like a believable dystopia. Yes, it does have the repressive and controlled state aspect. However, I prefer my dystopian novels to actually reflect a world that seems possible. I want to believe that this world could exist. And there's not a chance that the U.S. would turn into the strange society invented by Derting. So, I prefer to think of this as a fantasy. Did I forget to mention it involves magic? Because it does. Yeah, I'm definitely sticking this in fantasy. It felt more medieval than futuristic to me.

I really wanted to like this book. I really did! The Pledge just fell completely flat for me. The day after I closed the book, I probably couldn't have told you anything substantial about the main character, Charlaina. I was so detached from her, and never understood why the love interest was even pursuing her. She just felt so one dimensional to me. And that didn't just apply to Charlaina - I was disappointed by most of the characters. They all needed more developing!

This was definitely a novel that relied on action and plot rather than characters. And since I didn't care very much for the plot, I wouldn't recommend this book. Things just sort of happen, and the book remains very surface-level in its description of events. I thought the summary sounded very interesting (so it definitely had potential), I just think the whole thing need to be fleshed out a little more. That includes the world-building, which was a definite weakness for the book.

With the way the book ended, I wouldn't have known it was going to be a series. I'm glad about that because I'm not going to continue with this series. I'm just thankful that this book had enough closure that I'm happy with that decision (unlike some series I feel obligated to finish because I just have to know even though I didn't really like it).

Like I always say when I don't enjoy a book, read a sample chapter and decide for yourself. Just because I didn't like doesn't mean you won't (although I always try to provide solid reasons for why I didn't connect). One thing I really loved about this book? THE COVER!

So Quotable
"I loved voices, I always had. Words held meaning, but voices held emotion."

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