young adult book reviews & more

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

In Ludania, everyone knows their place. Everyone knows to pledge allegiance to the Queen and to support her ordered public executions. Everyone knows when to keep their head down, because even acknowledging a member of a higher class in certain cases can warrant punishment by death. For most people, these are easy rules to follow, especially because classes are demarcated by which languages they are permitted to speak, but for Charlaina, it’s not that simple. She has the ability to understand all languages but has been forced to keep this a secret for fear of endangering herself and her family. Charlie is managing to blend pretty well until she meets an alluringly mysterious boy who speaks in a language she’s never heard before and another stranger who seems to know too much about her. Still concerned with keeping her secret and her family safe, Charlie lets herself be drawn into a deadly political struggle between the aging Queen and determined revolutionaries, not realizing that she might be the reason for this upheaval in the first place.

The Pledge is a story with some very fantastic ideas and an overall satisfactory execution. From the moment I heard that this novel would be about the exploitation of language barriers and one girl who can break through all of them, I was intrigued. The story, however, really isn’t solely about languages; rather, Charlie’s ability to understand any language provides some interesting complications for a plot which increasingly centers on a political power struggle. I have to say that though I loved getting immersed in Charlie’s story, I was never particularly surprised by any of the major plot twists, aside from the major cliffhanger dropped in the epilogue which barely counts. I also found that there were a lot of little details that could have been cleaned up to make the story better, such as the insufficient development of most of the important male characters and the lacking explanation for the Queen’s desire to maintain power forever. Little things like these were not enough to distract from Derting’s otherwise decent storytelling, but they were irritating nonetheless. However, a planned sequel means that there’s room for the story to be cleaned up, and I greatly look forward to see where Charlie’s story goes next.

The Pledge will be enjoyed by fans of Shadow by Jenny Moss, Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, and dystopian novels with a hint of fantasy.

Rating: 3.75

Review copy from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

1 munch(es) :

Sophia said...

I liked this book but I agree, it could've been better. To me, the characters were just a bit dull and the plot twists were a bit... un-twisty? Haha, great review :)

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