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. (from GoodReads)
The Pledge was very interesting. It had a great premise that wasn't executed as well as it could have been. I was also disappointed the in the romance aspect of The Pledge.
Like I just stated The Pledge was really original. Classes are separated by language (which I think is a great concept) but Charlie has the ability to understand all languages. I think that is awesome (though I was confused as to why other people haven't learned the other languages; especially since there is a universal one that everyone understands which would make learning super easy). Besides Charlie's gift, there isn't really anything else special about her. She was kind of bland and her only other redeeming quality was her love for her little sister.
The world-building was pretty cool and I liked that it was both dystopian and fantasy, because there was magic involved. That being said, I never felt like it was the goverment was that controlling; besides not being able to look in the eyes of someone of an upper class, Charlie is able to roam pretty freely around her city. I also thought it was interesting how Ludania was ruled by female monarchs and the few sections where we got to see into the aging queen's head were pretty cool. She's a vicious queen, and those were the only parts where I actually felt afraid.
Unfortunately, the romance did not live up to my expectations. This book could actually have been written without it and it probably would have been better. Charlie meets mysterious Max who somehow knows her secret. They are attracted to each other, but I honestly have no idea why. Their relationship was built on nothing and we don't even see them together that much.
The Pledge is a little confusing in the beginning and for the first half I was wondering what was going on since there wasn't much of a plot. But then a lot of things start happening in quick succession and the ending was pretty anti-climatic. It also ends with an epilogue, though I don't know why since there are two other books in this trilogy.
So I thought there was a lot of potential in The Pledge but didn't quite meet my expectations. Some parts were good, like Charlie's ability, but others needed work. Hopefully the next two novels will be better.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: Simon & Schuster GalleyGrab
Release Date: November 15, 2011
2011/Margaret K. McElderry/320 pages.