Date of Publication: November 15 2011
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.
Kimberly Derting's The Pledge has the type of cover that calls to me. I'm fond of pretty things and The Pledge's cover was the type that had friends asking if they could take a look at the book. When it comes to the content, I wasn't as impressed.
The first problem is that almost nothing happens for a really, really long time. The plot is slow and while it's a readable book, nothing about it really draws the reader in.
I think a lot of the problems concern execution because the ideas behind what's happening is nice. The characters, for one, are utterly unremarkable. I don't think they had much depth because they didn't fascinate me at all. They weren't real in any way.
There was instalove, and what surprises me once again is how sudden it is. I don't even know who this Max dude is and then he's declaring his love for Charlie. What's super ridiculous is that he lies a lot to Charlie, and somehow she seems to trust him completely.
None of the characters were individuals. They felt like clichés to me and it was disappointing.
The believability was lacking as well. The world is interesting; there are classes which are distinguished based on what language you know. You're only allowed to know your class' language and that of the class below. The setting is some futuristic monarchy that also has some type of magic. It was hard to understand the parameters of the world and I think this magic part was haphazardly thrown in. It didn't feel plausible because the parameters of the world weren't well established. I had no idea what I was dealing with for most part of the novel.
The plot was slightly entertaining, but it had its ups and downs. I felt like it dragged on and was incredibly slow until the end where it kind of went ballistic. Stuff was happening and it wasn't being properly explained and all of a sudden there's some kind of battle and then, the end.
The Pledge wasn't what I was expecting at all. It's a much lighter read than anticipated. I would compare it to The Selection by Kiera Cass, except that story was slightly more entertaining. I was expecting a more coherent, focused, and mature story than what I got and my expectations are probably what damned the book a bit. I mean, even the cover is in all black! It screams "serious" book, doesn't it? (Or am I completely off base?)
Near the end of the book I became completely disinterested and considered DNFing. I decided not to just because I was almost done. Now, I know I sound extremely negative in my review but this book isn't a book to hate. I actually don't have particularly strong feelings either way. I didn't like it. It wasn't my cup of tea technically or emotionally. I wasn't invested. So, 1 heart.
(Also, I have to throw this out there: the font wasn't the best. I like that they decided to try a different font, but it doesn't fit with the story at all. The cover is all about elaborate, elegant font which makes sense considering the importance of the monarchy in the story and so a sans-serif is slightly jarring. But, I'm known to be a bit of a font snob.)