Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (November 15, 2011)
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
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.
I loved The Body Finder. Really, truly, went out the next day and bought it even though I'd just read it from the library, kind of love. Went out the following week to buy a copy of Desires of the Dead as soon as it came out because I couldn't possibly handle waiting one day after the release to get my hands on it, kind of love. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I heard Kimberly Derting was starting a new series called The Pledge. I practically squeelled when I saw it listed on Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab.
The Pledge is very different than Derting's other books in many ways. It is similar, however, in the darkness and mystery she creates. From the very beginning, the reader is drawn into the world through a prologue that makes me simultaneously cringe and eagerly flip the page. Charlie's world is a cruel one and that's a fact never forgotten throughout the story.
While reading, I never knew exactly who to trust. There were a few characters, like Aron, who endeared themselves to me right from the beginning. But, there were several characters, like Max and Xander, that I couldn't quite figure out. Who should Charlie (and I) trust? What are their intentions? Even sharing their headspace for a short chapter or two didn't help. This mystery kept me going and kept me on guard, much like Charlie had to be.
I couldn't quite figure out the plot secrets either, something I've been getting much better at doing. I would only realize a major plot point a few pages before it was revealed (if at all). To me, that means Derting deserves major kudos. I like to be kept on my toes, eagerly awaiting what happens next. Even with all the anticipation, I enjoyed the ease of the pacing. While I always wanted to keep reading, I could put to book down if I had to go to work, which made it a good book to bring on my lunch breaks.
Overall, The Pledge is a great book for anyone looking for something dark and mysterious.
Final thoughts: Buy or borrow.