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.I hate to give out negative reviews, especially those that are lukewarm, but I guess I’ll be breaking that rule today. The Pledge was…blah. It wasn’t so much that there was something wrong with the book or the writing or the characters, they were all perfectly fine. The plot was interesting enough, the society unique. Still, I found it difficult to connect with the novel. The main character Charlie was not incredibly memorable. She was perfectly average with some redeeming qualities, but not enough to make me feel particularly invested in her or her life.
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.
More importantly, I felt the novel was highly lack in, well, details. Derting relies heavily on the reader’s abilities of assumption and deduction. Facts aren’t presented, rather implied. Often, I had no idea who was talking and found myself skimming ahead to figure out what exactly was going on. Had this simply been an issue with dialogue, I probably would not have been so perturbed. Unfortunately, there was often a lack of defined details concerning major pieces of the plot. For example, Charlie can understand all of the languages spoken in Ludania, not simply the standard Englaise and her vendor class’ language. Though this talent that plays a huge role in the plot, it is merely touched upon briefly in the beginning and is never outright introduced. Likewise, I found the details concerning her sister incredibly hazy. She doesn’t talk and apparently has powers, which randomly appear midway through the novel (mentioned only offhandedly) and then are forgotten for quite some time.
Of course, there were a few redeeming qualities. The parts concerning the queen and her reign were incredibly interesting. In fact, when it came time for the climax, I found myself, for once, gripped by Charlie’s story. However, an odd twist at the end (never really explained, of course) significantly reduced my enjoyment of the dramatic moment.
In short, I would have preferred it if The Pledge had been more heavily-centered around the queen, rather than Charlie, a rather lackluster protagonist. All of my initial excitement was for naught; I will not be picking up the next installment in this series.