Ages: 14 and up
Release Date: November 15th, 2011
You can read an excerpt here.
Synopsis: Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.
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.
It sounds like a winner, right?
I think it's safe to say that the new 'it' genre is Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic and everyone seeems to jump on the dystopia bandwagon. And unfortunately most authors have the same, repetitive idea of the futuristic world: one all-powerful/perfect/opressive society, one girl wants to escape or rebel, then one mysterious boy suddenly appears on the scene and joins her to do so. It gets a bit boring after a while, right? So does The Pledge stand out next to all the other books out there? Well, since tales are told over and over, most books have the potential to be labeled cliché. I think the way you connect with the story and the characters is what makes the difference.
Unfortunately The Pledge didn't work for me. When I'm reading a book, being able to relate or make a connection with the characters is a vital part of my ability to enjoy the book. I need to be a part of the character’s journey, to experience the same ups and downs. In Pledge, I just couldn't make a connection with the characters. I kept wanting to find a little more depth, a little more complexity, something that would make the characters feel more than two-dimensional, something that would make them real, flesh and blood, three-dimensional people.
In Kimberly Derting's latest novel "the Pledge" democracy is no longer exists. In the retro-dystopian monarchic Ludania there is a caste system, and society is divided into four classes: "Counsels, Vendors, Servings, Outcasts".
Our main character, Charlie, is a middle class (Vendor) hard-working girl, with a very special ability living in this dictator-ruled world in which the language you speak determines your position in society. Everyday at school she repeats the brainwashing words of the Pledge to a disembodied queen, a way to show their loyalty to the Queen and that they protect their way of life. There's also this repetitive announces coming from "loudspeakers" that reminds them rules or mottos such as "A DILIGENT CITIZEN IS A HAPPY CITIZEN" (feels a bit reminiscent of 1984, heh?).
One night Charlie and her best friend Brook sneak out and go to an underground club, a place where class division doesn't matter. There she meets this mysterious, handsome stranger named MAX and her IQ seems to drop considerably. Oh wait, that happened way before she met him. And, of course she feels inexplicably drawn to the dark and scary yet alluring man for no discernible reason other than for the sake of advancing the plot. Not to mention the plot is virtually non-existent. Conveniences pile up at an alarming rate, you can nearly see everything coming a mile away.
But what I REALLY REALLY wonder is how she’s managed to survive this long. Given the fact that she has spent her whole life hiding her ability, you’d expect to find a girl who was wary, careful, and decently intelligent.
Long story short, I was hugely disappointed. The Pledge left me feeling very indifferent which is a shame given all of its potential. With so many dystopian books appearing lately, this one doesn't stand out at all.