Publication date: November 15th, 2011
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Simon&Schuster Galley Grab
Genre: YA Dystopian
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.
The Pledge is Kimberly Derting's first try at the dystopian genre. I won't say the renowned "it could have been worse", because a)duh and b)it's kinda lame to say that, even if I have definitely said it more than once in the past. It was a very good first attempt, which would have been brilliant for me if not for the infamous *drumroll* insta-love.
Yeah. It was regrettably one of those. And what made it worse was that the heroine, Charlie, fell instantly in love with *drumroll #2* the bad guy. Well, add a lot of quotations in the word "bad" there, you know how these things are. Thing is, Charlie has an ability that she and her family must, under any circumstance, keep a secret because if the Queen or any of her officers found out, she would be executed. And she chooses to fall madly in love with a guy in the military plus let him *ahem* accidentally find out her secret which I repeat, will cost her life. I don't say don't fall in love with him, these things are kind of unavoidable and what's a YA book without a romance, but there were so many ways it could have played out and still be a great, believable love story between a girl with a secret and a man that's never meant to discover it.
When you have a secret, which if known would be fatal for you and probably for your family, you can't accept messages from the queen's guard pledging his eternal fealty to you and swearing up and down that he will protect you no matter what, having met him once! and feel your heart flutter and birds singing and rainbows doing whatever rainbows do. You just can't. It's so circa 2009!
Insta-freaking-can-you-please-stop-using-it-in-books-love aside, the world building in The Pledge was great. I liked the fact that it had a fantasy feel to it, like if you didn't know it was dystopian, it could have easily be a beautiful fantasy novel with Charlie and co. living in wooden shacks under a tree in the forest and so forth. Story was good too, which, again, could have easily belonged to a fantasy novel. Different dialects, hierarchy and casts, Queens, magic, epic stuff.
All in all, I'd urge you to consider reading The Pledge. If you're completely anti-instalove, you'll be a bit pissed for sure. But hopefully you'll find that good story telling makes up for it in the end.