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August 6, 2012

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

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 book didn't originally strike me as a book that I would fall in love with. I'm not the biggest fan of multiple p.o.v's. I don't like to know all of the book's mysteries in just a few chapters but this book does not disappoint in the secrets department and once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I then mentally facepalmed myself for waiting so long to read it. The Pledge is a dystopian novel (should have been my first hint that I needed to read it; dystopians are always attention-catching for me) set in Ludania, a country ruled by a brutal, powerful queen. But, there's something different about this queen: she's ruled Ludania for centuries by taking over the bodies of her descendants. She never wants to give up the crown, or her country, and she's found a way to accomplish this, but what happens when she no longer has a female descendant to take the throne and her stolen time is running out? 
In one of the lower classes of Ludania's society lies Charlie, a responsible, compassionate girl with a loving family who's not supposed to understand any language other than her class' and the universal language. Yet, she can somehow understand any language. Too bad this means certain death for Charlie if anyone found out about her ability.
Enter Max, a boy who catches Charlie's eye and her attention. Max is a mystery to Charlie, with perceptive eyes that can see through her lies and that don't miss a thing, his strange new language that Charlie's never heard but can understand and his two friends that follow him around everywhere. Charlie knows she needs to stay away from him if she wants to keep herself safe but Max is always there: in her mind, on the street and she can't get away from him. Especially not after he slips her a note saying 'I Pledge to keep you safe'. I mean really, who would be able to stay away from him? Who would want to?
Before Charlie can decide whether or not Max can be trusted, though, she has to grab her sister and go into hiding along with the rest of her city to escape the rebel army that has penetrated the border. Max keeps his pledge, but something happens and some of Max's secrets are revealed, causing her to question him. Is he really who she thought he was, or is there way more to him that Charlie never considered? And does Charlie need to be asking this same question about herself and her family? (I think yes)
This book and its characters kept me constantly questioning things. I eagerly waited for answers to all of my questions, and I got them. . . along with more questions. I love books like this because they keep me on my toes and there are so many different directions for the book to take that I'm never bored. It also doesn't hurt that the book has a lead character that you instantly love because of her powerful personality. I give this book a five out of five and eagerly await the second one. I also recommend it to anyone looking for a dystopian novel that really makes you think, great characters to lead you to the answers and leaves little surprises for you along the way.
5 stars

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