Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Pledge Allegiance, Not To You

Published: November 15th, 2011
The Pledge
By: Kimberly Derting
Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN-13: 9781442422018

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.


   Charlie has grown up in a society that has been rebuilt from ruin, using a caste system that separates the people cruelly.  No one is allowed to speak any language than the one of their station and Englaise, the common tongue.  If they even look at another person while they speak their class' language, they will be executed.  Charlie has a secret: she can understand any language that is spoken, no matter whether she's heard it before or not.  One night while she's at a club with her friend Brooklyn, Charlie hears someone speak in a tongue she doesn't recognize.  Intrigued, she becomes involved in a power struggle she never imagined.  One that will put Charlie, her parents, and her little sister Angelina's lives at risk.  Max knows something about Charlie that will question everything she has ever believed to be true.  Can she save herself and everyone else in the kingdom from the tyranny of the monarchy?  Or will her very soul be a casualty of war?  This was a truly interesting novel.  I liked the concept of language and caste systems being the true barrier in a dystopian society.  Charlie is such a strong female heroine that I couldn't help but like her.  That said, the Queen (as the villain of the story) was way too one-dimensional.  It was like she was evil for no reason at all, other than power had driven her mad.  The plot could have benefited from far more backstory than it was given.  The romance between Max and Charlie was sweet, but not exactly probable.  At times it was slightly Twilight-y and that did nothing to improve upon it for me.  I loved little Angelina, who has a gift and strength of spirit all her own.  Brooklyn and Aron could've been so much more - alas they were merely plot devices as was Xander, Max's cousin and leader of the resistance.  Unfortunately, it was quite predictable and not thorough enough for my enjoyment.  I was expecting the harsh beauty of The Girl of Fire and Thorns - I got weak writing instead.  I thought the epilogue left way too much to be desired.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

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