THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom….
My rating: 4 stars.
I went out on a limb here, reading The Pledge. It's admittedly not in my genre of choice - contemporary. BUT. It was mostly everything I could've asked for.
Most notably - the awesome sense of plot and descriptions. Hellooooo, you two! Where have you been in my YA novels? So glad you've returned. That's basically the conversation I had going on in my head. Derting's world just packs this live punch that's great; it's gritty, urban, magical. And the characters have distinct personalities! It's easy to form connections to them, which helps guide the story. Truth be told, some are cliche, and a bit predictable. But the more developed characters make up for their lacking.
There's some slow build-up, which leads to confusion about just what kind of world they're living in, and why, but everything is resolved in the end. However, that's where things seem to get a bit screwy. Characters suddenly do a 180 and show other sides of themselves, causing me to feel detached from them after finally feeling like I knew their purposes within the story. It's a bit offputting and annoying. The way everything - and everyone - ties together seems illogical at times, or presents Oh c'mon, really now? moments/reactions.
But trust me: The Pledge is an awesome thriller. The world is fleshed out, the descriptions spot-on, and the characters more or less come together seamlessly. It's a mingling of all things good. Read it!