Review: The Pledge

Review: The PledgeThe Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Pledge #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on November 15, 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: ARC
Source: Won

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.

Needless to say, I was really stoked about this book, especially since I got a free ARC from a giveaway through Presenting Lenore. You know me and my undying love for dystopias. Unfortunately, The Pledge did not fulfill my hopes. It had some good parts and some rather obnoxious parts, which I will attempt to enumerate somewhat in this review.

The Good:
A society based on discrepancies in language is a very interesting idea, especially since, in some senses, this has been done in real cultures, such as how Russian royals used to speak in French. Intriguing, too, were the seemingly magical powers possessed by Charlie and the Queen of the realm. Why do only women have the capability to have such powers? I don’t know, but, heck yeah, strong women! Actually, one of the few things I really liked about Charlie is that she spoke almost entirely in Englaise, because she didn’t see the point of making things hard on people. Why not speak so everyone could understand?

The Bad:
While I liked the language differences, I had trouble accepting that people were incapable of ever learning a language they were not born with. This just isn’t how language works so far as I know. Not being allowed to speak an upper crust language, I get, but being incapable of ever learning or speaking it?

Another thing I really didn’t like was what transpired in one particular scene. Charlie and her best friend Brooklynn go to an illegal nightclub, despite being underage (woo, doubly illegal!). When let in, they receive hand stamps, much like clubs now have for those below the drinking age, only these are laced with drugs to loosen people up. Charlie feels some ill effects from hers, so she decides to wander around the building and finds a secret hallway. Discovered by a mysterious, vaguely creepy, secretive guy, she lets him put something else on her hand (supposedly to help, but what does she know?!?) and falls asleep trustingly. To be fair, nothing untoward occurred, but I just want to say that no one should ever do this. Charlie is a bad role model!

The Obnoxious:
While the overarching plot had some interesting things going on, the romance running through it was just completely stereotypical YA and barftastic. The words describing any encounter between Charlie and Max are reminiscent of such works as Twilight, Personal Demons, or Hereafter. Here’s a sample scene of the two of them, just after their first makeout session: “I was still shaking when I finally turned my head away, ending the kiss. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. My lips felt swollen and raw, and achingly cold in the absence of his” (265). The hardest thing she ever had to do? Really? Come on.

At this juncture, I do not know if I will be trying the sequel; I may have to just to figure out why a sequel needs to exist, as this seems to have wrapped up the existing plot threads. For those of you who enjoy melodramatic teenage romances complete with instalove and some dystopian business, The Pledge will satisfy your every desire.


One response to “Review: The Pledge”

  1. Nori says:

    I could have warned you about her romance! But, I still really like her. Her romance in her other books is kind of the same…but sometimes that’s what I want to read….

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