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 will be honest with you, I never really expected to read this book. Ever. I saw it on a Goodreads newsletter before it's release date and always wanted to read it, but eventually, I forgot about it.
However, while I was at the library dropping off some books, I just happened to find the Pledge and, well, fall in love with it!
I seriously can't believe it took me two years to read the book when it took me four hours to read it!
The story starts off 81 years in the past where a young Princess Sabara walks into her mother's room- where she is about to die. The dying Queen reminds her daughter that she was born of importance and with power, and that she must say 'the words'. The little princess takes her mother's hand and as she takes her last breathe, says the magic words...then, she becomes her mother. She has taken her Essence, and is now the Queen.
The book then jumps 81 years later where 17 year old Charlie, a girl living in Ludania, a Queendom that divides its social classes by language. Understanding a language outside of one's station results in death. The problem? Our narrator knows all three class type languages: Termani (for the rich), Parshon (for the Vendor/working class), and Englaise (the language of the Serving class and the universal tongue).
After nearly getting sentenced to death when she accidentally slips and looks up from her station when a Termani girl speaks at her parent's restaurant, Charlie joins her best friend Brook to go out for a night. They end up going to a club where she meets his mysterious boy named Max, who speaks a mysterious tongue she magically understands.
Unbeknownst to her, the language is a special one, known by an elite few. She tries her best to stay away from Max and his special tongue- if anyone finds out she can understand him, she'll be dead. Charlie can't keep away though, and she ends up searching for him. While looking for Max, she ends up meeting a man named Xander, who's equally dangerous and charming as Max.
Back at home, Charlie has to deal with her party best friend, and the tension in her family because of her magic ability to understand languages.
But with a war looming closer to her city's walls, and threatening to force her family apart, Charlie will have to trust someone, but the question is who?
This book is really good! It has a nice plot, and despite my own (little) confusing summary of the story, it actually does a good job explaining the terms and the ins-and-outs of Ludania's backwards society.
In Charlie's world, all the different nations are ruled by 'Queens' which I find interesting, since most times, it's an evil male tyrant who's in power and it's a lost son being hunted and searched. In this book, females are the valuable ones amongst the Royals, and the Queens rule the Queendom with an iron fist.
I really enjoyed that it was all about the girls and my the guys in this book. I mean, yeah, you still get the handsome guy saves the beautiful girl element in the story, but it ends up with the girl saving the day at the end. Like, how many stories do we have Queens and Princesses at war with each other, with the guys a little bit lower on the food chain?
What I didn't enjoy was the fact this book was WAAY too small! It has so many nice plot elements and characters that I wish we got to see developed more...but the pages. There were a little over 300 pages.
I didn't really have much of a connection with the characters like I wanted to. I wanted them to make me feel sad, irritable, jealous, annoyed and happy! But I didn't really get that. I think the reason why is because this book had alternating chapters: there would be Charlie's first person POV, the Queen's third person POV, a bit of Max and a bit of Xander POV as well. We did stay with Charlie the majority of the book, but I didn't really see much of her emotions with the other characters.
I saw that it was evident that she loved her sister, Angelina, and was really concerned about her best friend, Brook, but I didn't really get that passion with her and Max. That was sort of a flop for me. It does get a little better in the end, but not by much.
What this book did was trap me with it's nicely paced plot and just...all the story building and the concept around the 'Essence' thing. I really didn't understand what the whole Essence thing was when I first read the beginning if the book, but as we got closer to the end, I got it and I was utterly amazed and creeped out at the same time. Like, does that mean the person that get's the Essence loses heir personality too?
Ooh, and the PLOT TWISTS! OMG, Kimberly Derting seriously put some plot twists here!
When I learned that Angelina had the ability to heal was like 'What? Since when?!' That was a good plot twist. Another one was revealing who Max really was. I WAS SO NOT EXPECTING THAT ONE! Another one was Max and Xander's relationship, and how Xander was the favourite. I never thought that they'd be, you know...
Overall, this book was pretty satisfying. The overall concept and plot is really good, so 3 out of 5 stars to this book! I seriously can't wait to get The Essence!