The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded interesting. I love reading about different social classes in books, especially when said books have nice covers. However, this wasn't enough to make me want to read this. It wasn't until I heard about Essence, the second book in the Pledge series, that I decided to check it out.
I guess you could say that I’m impressionable when I see a gorgeous covers.
A world where Queens rule and social statuses are divided by the languages you speak is a fantastic idea for a story. And for the most part, I felt like Derting did a really great job execution this. That being said, if you’re expecting a lot of details surrounding the social classes, then stop expecting it...because it doesn't happen. The book is mostly about finding the next Queen. The present Queen wants to find the potential heir so she can bring the girl to her side, while the rebels want the potential heir to take over and bring hope to the people.
In terms of the characters, I think my favourite ones would be Brook, Angelina, and the Queen. Brook was smart, but also had some vulnerability to her and I think Derting only touched the surface of what this character could do to the story. I feel kind of the same way with Angelina, only because what we know about her powers. She seems a lot more powerful than Charlie. And smarter too. A lot smarter. So I liked her.
The Queen, however, was my standout favourite. I know, I know, it doesn’t make much sense considering the fact that she was a typical villain without much depth to her. But I liked her. She’s ruthless and petty and doesn’t care who knows it. The fact that she has a rule in place that you’ll be sent to the gallows if you look in the eye of someone of a higher rank while they are speaking their language is messed up. It was also enough for me to want to see more from her. You have to be pretty senile to push that kind of law. And by golly, senile is what she is. I loved it. The way the Queen maintains her power reminded me of the manhwa Witch Hunter, so I enjoyed that aspect of her as well.
The story, for the most part, is told in Charlie’s viewpoint, but sometimes we’ll get snippets here and there of what is happening with other characters like the Queen. I liked this, only because there were times when I’d start to get bored with Charlie and then bam, another character would start to talk about what’s happening with them. I do wish we got to have a chapter or two dedicated to Brook and Aron, but maybe they’ll be showcased more in the next book.
Another thing I liked was how the romance wasn’t as over done as I originally thought it would be. This is a YA novel in a dystopian world, so you know going into it that there will be romance with a hot guy. It’s expected. So I was afraid that the story might shift into lovey dovey territory instead of the main story about the Queen. Instead, the romance was enough to establish a connection between Max and Charlie, but not too much that it overpowered everything else. [The fact that she still refused the Queen’s advancements, despite seeing what happened to Max spoke volumes. She loves the guy, but he wasn’t enough to make her listen to the Queen. I’ve read books where this would have been enough, so I was glad that this wasn’t the case here. (hide spoiler)]
Sydney becoming an ally did make sense, but I wish there was more to this. She went from being a bully to being someone Charlie could trust. Like I said before, it does make sense considering her circumstance, but I kind of wanted to see more dialogue between the two girls.
The friendship of Charlie, Brook, and Aron wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. Aron was pushed to the back-burner, even though it seemed like he was going to be the ‘I love my best friend’ type of character. He promises to always be there for Charlie, only he’s hardly in the book and you kind of forget about him. It’s kind of sad. Poor Aron. I really hope you don’t end up in a love triangle.
With Charlie and Brook, it kind of felt like there was a lot more brewing there and nothing happened with it. There was a scene when Charlie said that she felt sorry for Brook, because Max wasn’t paying attention. It kind of seemed like even though Charlie loves Brook like a sister, she does kind of look down on her. Brook was the hotter friend and one that gets all the attention from the guys, so you’d imagine that Charlie would feel some sort of complex over this, especially since Brook relishes in the attention while Charlie doesn’t. On the other hand, Brook seemed to have a lot of secrets of her own and was dealing with some other issues as well. I mentioned earlier that there is a vulnerability there that kind of goes over Charlie's head.
I dunno, it just felt like there could have been a lot more ‘drama’, for lack of a better word, when it came to their friendship.
I liked a lot of things in the book. The writing is good, the romance doesn’t take over the story, and the characters, for the most part, are enjoyable. The only downside is everything is very predictable. As a reader, you’ll easily figure out who Charlie really is and why everyone wants her so badly. You’ll figure out who Max and Xander are and you’ll also realize why Brook does the stuff that she does.
It’s predictable. It’s also cliché in the sense that Charlie is the chosen one. Of course she is. And of course the hero, Max, only has eyes for her even though Brook is the better looking one. Of course. Of course. Of course.
Normally, this would bother me a lot. And I mean a lot. Yet, I didn’t really mind it here. I wanted to go for the ride and not care because I did enjoy the story. Plus, the ending made me want to read Essence, so I didn’t mind it too much. That being said, I have a feeling that Essence will be a lot better than the Pledge. This book seemed like a stepping stone for what’s to come.
I’m glad I read this. Even though it was predictable and did feel like everything that happened was a stepping stone for what’s to come, the writing, the characters, the story was enough to keep me interested. I liked the book. It could be mixture of my desire to read Essence and my love of pretty covers, but even still I liked the book. Now I just have to wait a month to see what happens next.
Please no love triangle, please no love triangle, please no love triangle.