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  • The PledgeTHE PLEDGE (The Pledge #1)
  • Kimberly Derting
  • Young Adult – Dystopian
  • Margaret K. McElderry (S & S)
  • November 15th, 2011
  • Adobe Digital Edition/ Epub

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.

General Comments

I went into this book with the highest of expectations, how could I not after a description like that? And at first I was not disappointed. By the fourth page I was in love. There was action! Intrigue! Engaging characters! A book lover’s heaven. Seriously, in my notes I was gushing for about half a page. Then halfway through the book, it lost some of its appeal. It could’ve been because things were happening that had completely blindsided me. Or maybe it was because I lost my connection with the characters. In any case, it was still likeable and I enjoyed it.

Critical Review

Author’s Voice/ POV:

Interestingly enough, Kimberly Derting employed the use of multiple perspectives, using the first and third person POVs for her heroine, hero, and villain. It was extremely well done and she created such distinct voices that I was able to tell them apart from the beginning, without the different POVs.


Charlie, or rather Charlaina, was a beautiful character. She came alive from the very first page and I found myself being caught up in her life, her world, her feelings. For the first half of the story, she was one of the best examples of a realistic and believable character that I have ever seen. Over the course of the book as events unfolded around her and she was forced to react and even change, I began to lose my connection. She began to feel like a stranger and I couldn’t help but feel like some of her actions were forced.

Max was intriguing from the beginning. The author had me wondering for a while if his interest in Charlie was genuine or if he had his own motives. As I watched his interest in her grow, I couldn’t help but have of those ‘aw’ moments. Even though he made some questionable decisions, I could genuinely feel his interest in her and I liked that. I liked the honesty of it.

Storyline/ Plot:

The story seems simple enough: Charlie would be a pretty normal girl in Ludania except she can understand all the languages in her country, not just her own class’ town or the common tongue. This makes life particularly stressful for her parents, who are constantly trying to impress on her the importance of keeping it secret. Then a handsome boy enters the picture and he speaks a whole new language. What follows is a story of an ancient evil, rebellion, and the attraction and love that develops between Max and Charlie. Overall, it was extremely good.


There are several ‘actiony’ scenes in this story, most of them well done but one of the first featuring an attack in the night felt sudden and unexpected in a way that left me feeling slightly confused and mildly disinterested. The scene itself was important for the story but it disappointed me somehow. There were other surprise moments, in terms of Charlie’s little sister. This scene was also unexpected but I liked it and couldn’t wait to read more, to find out more about Charlie and her family and what made them so special.

Rating Conclusion

Great writing, interesting characters, and an interesting story, all combined to make a pretty great read. That’s why I’m giving The Pledge a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

K, the Popinjay.

Disclaimer: Received through Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab program.