Thursday, 28 March 2013

Review : The Pledge

Author : Kimberly DERTING
Title : The Pledge
Format : e-book
ISBN : ISBN 9781442422032
Published : 15/11/2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Series : The Pledge (#1)

In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines your class, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. The only reprieve from oppression is within the drug-filled underground club scene. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. As the violent clashes between the totalitarian monarchy and the rebel forces escalate, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible grip of a deadly regime.
source : Simon & Schuster

I initially gave this book 4 flowers before downgrading it to 3,5 again.  It is really a very good book, but there are a few things that annoyed me too much to be able to brush them aside and give it a full 4. I'll get back to those later on but first the good parts.

Ludania is a queendom where language is the key around which life is organised, a matriarchal totalitarian regime with a linguistic take on the classic divide et impera, that has proofed successful, both in fiction as in real life.  Every group in society has their designated tongue, which they are permitted to use only among themselves.  The universal language is Englaise, which can be understood by all and is used by the serving class.  The Vendors, standing above the Servants, have their own language Parshon and the elite counsel class expresses itself in Termani.  The whole society is segregated along those classes and the languages rules are applied strictly, as a mere glance at a higher member of society while he is speaking his own tongue is punished by a one way trip to the gallows.  The fact that this series heroine Charlie can understand all languages, makes her an abomination in the eyes of her compatriots and it is a talent she has been taught to keep secret from a very early age. Then she meets a boy/man who speaks an unknown language, which she understands and that's what puts the wheels in motion of a story that although it has a rather predictable ending once you understand the plot, still manages to have a few unexpected twists and turns.    

The thing I missed in this society though, is the explanation of how things became that way.  How did the queendoms come into existence, where did queen Sabara come from, who came up with the language rules, how where they created and implemented? There is a reference to the Revolution of Souvereigns, which marks this society's timeline (as a before and after) as well as a short explanation of it taken from a history book but it didn't satisfy my hunger for knowledge about Ludania as a society.  As this is the first book in a series, it might have been deliberatedly left vague in order to be elaborated in later instalments, but having read the second book, I am not really convinced.  The second point that made me downgrade this book is something that is a recurring thing in young adult (dystopian) novels : the instalove factor.  Don't get me wrong, I do believe in love at first sight but sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing : Max is and mysterious and handsome and interested in the main character he finds "fascinating" and obviously, the feeling is mutual.  It might have worked out if I could have felt some sympathy for the guy, but I just found him to be bland and beside his "mysteriousness" he didn't have a lot going for me.

Still, this dystopian novel with a few fantasy elements was a easy and entertaining read and, if you are like me, you'll want to read The Essence immediately after it. 


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