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. – Goodreads
I’m not exactly sure where to start with this book. First, I thought it was a standalone, found out it isn’t. I miss standalone books. I know that is an annoying and weird pet peeve Second, it’s dystopian, which part of me thinks I’m a little dystopian out. I know, is that even possible? But this year I’ve read many books in that genre and I’m looking forward to many books in 2012 in that genre. But I did read it because Derting wrote one of my favorite series, The Body Finder Series. So one could say I had high hopes going into this series.
So Charlania, or Charlie, lives in a time when people are separated by their language. The whole caste system is based on which language you speak. The rich speak Termani, another class speaks Parshon, and so on. There is one boy in her school who only speaks Englaise, the universal language and language used for the pledge, and besides saying the pledge he isn’t allowed to speak at school. The whole day the boy is even more of an outcast and forced to be my himself in silence. It is known to the reader quite quickly that Charlie understands more than one language, but doesn’t make it known. Her best friend, Aron, and her other best friend, Brook, have no idea that she can understand more than her native language, Parshon. Slowly she begins to question things. A classmate Cheyenne, it is popular during this time to name people after well known cities from a time long ago, gets turned in, by her own father, to the police for having resistance material in her room. The book also cuts in to other points of view which did nothing for me. I can see why Derting did it, but I would have been fine with just one point of view. That is clearly my personal preference, too many points of view tend to get to me after awhile.
First things first, I love the fact that Charlie’s best friend, Aron, is get this: just her best friend. They have almost the perfect type of friendship. Very brother/sister, it was not at all what I expected. I went into The Pledge expecting a love triangle. Almost all young adult out there right now is very big into love triangles and me not knowing what boy to choose until book two three comes out. It’s nice having Charlie and Aron, just be Charlie and Aron, BFFs. I also enjoyed how hard it was for Charlie when she could understand the mean derogatory things that people were saying about her, even though she was supposed to keep her head down and know nothing. Derting makes it clear and known how painful it is for Charlie to act nonchalant about everything. I also relate to parts of Charlie I never thought I would. She feels like an outcast, she doesn’t like going to the hot new club Prey, and her relationship with her father. I slowly even start to fall in love with Charlie’s love interest. Even with all of his secrets. And the war? Oh the war. I’m not even sure how to explain it without ruining the war. Which makes it easy to state I also enjoyed how Derting wrote the dystopian side of the novel. It makes me take back the beginning of this review where I said I was a tad dystopian out. Although really, why is dystopian the new vampire?
I even enjoy how the book ends, even with now knowing it’s going to be a series. It would have been a perfect standalone book, in my opinion. But the fact it’s going to continue on makes me excited to. Knowing more about this world? Yes, please.