Monday, January 6, 2014

The Pledge Series (#1-2) (Review)

(The Pledge, #1)

Release Date: November 15th, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genres: YA Dystopia/Romance

My Review (4/5 stars*)

The Pledge is a purely exciting combination of fantasy and dystopia. It takes off with great promise and continues to get better from there on out.  As a fan of Derting's Body Finder series, The Pledge is by far the best of her works yet. Bit by bit it takes a hold of your interest and urges you forward to discover Charlie's story. I found the world totally fascinating, and the minor characters nearly as intriguing as the heroine. I read straight through to the end without taking breaks which is a major problem for me when I'm reading but The Pledge was an exception. 

Charlaina is seventeen and lives in the country of Ludania know for being strict in its laws, and swift in its punishment. Breaking even the smallest rule will get you hanged. Remembering your place in society is paramount. Speaking a language or understanding one outside of your own class is all it takes. Charlie has been keeping a dangerous secret for years—she can understand all languages even those she's never heard before. She's unable to tell anyone because if they find out what she's capable of everything she's ever known will be taken away. Charlie's ability is punishable by death and those who help conceal it. Her life alters course when she meets Max whose handsome and obviously above her class. He seems interested in her in a way no one else has ever been, and that scares Charlie more than she'll admit. Ludania is at war with itself, and the tyrannical Queen is willing to go to extreme lengths to squash the rebellion, but that's not the only agenda she has.

There are a few things that could have been worked on such as the character development. You don't really get to know who the heroine really is. I wish readers got more of a personality, because she was lacking. I think the side characters had more to them than Charlie. Despite that I liked Angelina, Max, and Xander. They made up for the underdeveloped characters. It's not that I didn't like Charlaina but I didn't see a whole lot of depth beyond what other people thought of her. The relationship between Max and Charlie was instant attraction-infatuation. Neither could explain why they fell for each other only that they did. I love romance and theirs magically blossoms out of nowhere. Aron, Charlie's best friend who means so much to her is basically written out of the book after the beginning, then right at the end he's back again. I didn't understand some of the connections because they were a little nonsensical. If it weren't for those things I would have loved this book completely.  

Overall I was surprised by how many secrets everyone was keeping and how many are revealed by the end. The Pledge does a great job at being unpredictable and reeling you in. It has a gloomy atmosphere, an enchanting narrative, evenly distributed action, and characters with a lot of potential. If you like dark dystopias with fantasy elements, and don't mind the lack of character growth this is an exciting read!


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.



(The Pledge, #2)

Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Magaret K. McElderry
Genres: YA Dystopia/Romance

My Review: (3.5/5 stars*)

I was expecting more from The Essence than what was given. It was a good sequel but it could have been better especially after the cliffhanger before it. The Essence did keep me reading just not with the same eagerness as The Pledge. In some ways I did enjoy this one more because Charlie finally got emotions, and added development that was missing prior.

Charlaina is learning the ropes of of what it means to be a queen. Her new laws have abolished the class system and language barriers that have been put in place for reigns before her own, but while some accept this new way of life others seek to destroy it, and her. A group of rebels have risen to overthrow and assassinate the young queen and those that stand in their way. Meanwhile Charlaina is struggling with keeping a secret that she wishes to rid herself of
Sabara's essence. Even though everyone is sure she couldn't have survived Charlie knows the truth and it's getting harder to conceal when Sabara starts to share her thoughts, and attempts to take control. With people looking to take her out of the picture and Sabara's evil spirit taunting her every unguarded moment Charlie is forced to confront her fears.

In this installment deceit plays a huge part of the story leaving Charlie and those closest to her exposed. What I most like about The Pledge series is you never know or see what's coming until the last second. Derting leaves no room for safety, and no ones fate is guaranteed. The Essence moves into darker territory by taking Charlie into dangerous places emotionally. I was happy to see her character grow and her actions and emotions become decipherable. Aron has a larger presence which he deserved, while Angelina and Eden take a backseat. The foreign and bulky bodyguard Zafir gets a much larger role than he's had before. His rigid facade cracks a little to reveal a character with depth, and a protective nature that's more endearing than annoying which is what I felt he was in the first novel. He becomes an important fixture that saves and helps Charlie navigate her newly appointed position. Max for the majority of the novel isn't in it much, and since he's out of sight he's also out of mind. I like their romance but it's not the center of story since they're hardly together. Xander also hangs back which is somewhat of a disappointment because he was one of my favorites from book 1, who finally showed his nobility and strength towards the end of The Pledge.

Though not nearly as good as the first in the series The Essence doesn't stop holding reader's attention. It brings in a few new characters, and makes some of the previous ones more important. Charlie is learning to acclimate to the situations she's put in while also dealing with Sabara's thoughts that makes everything she does much more complicated. Their is a sufficient amount of action, and lots of little twists to look forward to. All in all it was a good read and I'm hoping for a great conclusion in the final book.


At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.


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