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Kimberly Derting's new dystopian novel 'The Pledge' was a very enjoyable book and a great start to what I think is promising new series. With a fascinating premise the story is set in the kingdom of Ludania, where the people are divided by social class, language and the Queens strict, suppressive laws - violation of which are punishable by death.
But seventeen-year old Charlaina (Charlie) has been breaking the laws her entire life. Unbeknown to anyone but her family, Charlie was born with the ability to understand and speak all the languages of Ludania. However as the lowly daughter of a vendor, she is only permitted to understand the language of the serving class and the universal common tongue of 'Englasise'. It is a gift that could cost her her life.
But then Charlie meets Max, a handsome and mysterious soldier who not only knows her name, but speaks a language that she has never heard spoken before. Moreover, he seems to suspect her secret and despite her better judgement, Charlie can't seem to stay away from him, nor he from her. But Max has secrets of his own.
Now with country on the brink of war, the revolutionaries are rising up against the oppressive conditions set down by Ludania's Queen, plotting to put an end to her long rule of tyranny - and Charlie finds there is more to her gift than she ever believed possible as to her dismay, she discovers the future of her country may very well be in her hands...
So overall 'The Pledge' was a very well written book. Fast and smooth paced, it made for a quick and easy read and I have to say it, the UK cover is absolutely gorgeous! With a unique plot and some interesting (and often unforeseen) twists and turns it made an intriguing story, and it had a nice cast of characters. Also although it's labelled dystopian, there are plenty of elements of fantasy, romance and fairy-tale like qualities threaded throughout the book, so even if dystopian isn't your thing, don't rule this book out.
Charlie herself is a great heroine. Cautious and clever, she does everything she can to hide her ability, quelling her rebelliousness and defiant thoughts so as not to draw attention to her or her family. Her protectiveness and compassion towards other people, particularly her younger sister, is also very moving and one of her best traits.
I also liked Max's character, but I couldn't help feel like the romance between him and Charlie was a little undercooked. I enjoyed their moments together but thought their falling in love was somewhat premature so I must admit, I hoping for a little more depth between them in the next book.
As for the villain of the tale - the queen was superb and you really couldn't help but hate her. She was just so evil!
So all in all Kimberly Derting has pieced together a really good story. Admittedly this is the first of her books that I have read but I wasn't disappointed and I will definitely be checking out her other works real soon.
Also, with the threatening promise of sinister things to come - I look forward to the continuation of Charlie's story in book two. Gripping, thought-provoking and imaginative, 'The Pledge' was an interesting read!