The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
This well-crafted dystopian novel is set is the imaginary country of Ludania, where violence is common. The citizens are divided into castes, and may only speak their caste’s language, with transgressions being dealt with harshly, death not being uncommon. The society is a matriarchal monarchy, with the insanely evil Queen Sabara willing to do anything to keep her absolute control over her kingdom. Our protagonist Charlie (Charlaina to her parents) is part of the vendor class since her parents own a restaurant. Her dark, dangerous secret is that she can understand any language someone speaks, even if she has never heard it before. Her parents have taught her all her life to hide this gift, since she would probably be put to death if the totalitarian monarchy found out.
Since their daily lives are so structured, Charlie and her best girlfriend Brooklynn spend countless evenings at underground night clubs, where a person’s class is ignored and the young people have some semblance of freedom. It’s at one of these clubs that Charlie meets Max, a mysterious and slightly dangerous boy who seems different from the kids she knows at school. As the rebels in Charlie’s world create more and more disruptions, she ends up in the middle of a dangerous situation, and learns quickly that people aren’t always who they pretend to be and that your enemies might be your friends, and vice versa.
I loved this fast-paced book. The way Derting used language as a source of power was ingenious and fascinating. The plot is non-stop action, making this a perfect choice for even the most reluctant of readers. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, which comes out in January of 2013, and highly recommend this to fantasy and dystopian fans and readers who already enjoy Kimberly Derting’s books.
By the way, another of her books, The Body Finder is reviewed HERE.