Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Pledge #1
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Date: November 2011
Buy the Book • 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.
This is a great dystopian story! It’s different to any other I’ve ever read and it’s written really, really well.
What I really love about The Pledge is the way that the story reads very easily. Its complex yes but it doesn’t seem so in the way that Kimberly tells it. She has created an oppressive, scary world of classes and languages and royalty.
Our protagonist, Charlie is in the vendor class. She is only permitted to learn and speak the language of her class, plus the universal language Englaise. If someone from a class above yours speaks in the language of their own class then you must bow your head and not look them in the eye whilst they are speaking! The penalty for breaking this rule is death.
However, Charlie can understand ALL the languages. She does not know why but she and her parents have to keep this fact a secret or it would mean her execution. I found this really intriguing. I enjoyed finding out the true reason for Charlie’s gift and how it was all pieced together.
I also really love the characters in this story. Charlie is very relatable and likeable and her relationship with her family is very realistic. From being told off for swearing by her parents to going to night clubs with her best friend and meeting guys, I just found it all very refreshing in comparison to your usual YA heroin. And of course she meets a boy, Max. But he speaks a language she has never heard before and this is what originally draws her to him. But Max has his own problems and secrets and seeing small sections of the story from his POV really helped to bring together all the elements of the tale.
Another thing that impressed me about The Pledge was the way that it was not predictable. I kept coming up with theories in my head about what was going to happen and I was so sure that it was obvious but nothing I came up with was right! There are so many twists and turns that I only just managed to catch my breath before something else was sprung on me and I loved it!
All in all then a very good dystopian story indeed. There is even a small element of magic, something that you don’t usually find in dystopian books and this just added to the uniqueness of this book! If you are a fan of dystopia then I suggest you pick this one up!