Thursday, December 1, 2011

Five Pentacle Review: Kimberly Derting's The Pledge

I love to be able to give a book five stars. It means that the writing, the world and the characters completely captivated me. The latest YA novel that's completely won me over—I literally have nothing bad to say about this book, and a whole lotta good—is Kimberly Derting's The Pledge.

Though I enjoyed her debut novel The Body Finder, it wasn't until I read The Pledge that I became a squeeing Derting fangirl. It's dystopian with hints of an epic fantasy world-view, and just enough magic to make Tere a very happy girl. Here's the blurb on Goodreads, where you can find more reviews:

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.

Doesn't that sound amazing?!

I adored Charlie as a heroine. She is real, and flawed, and vulnerable. But she learns to do what she has to in order to protect her sister, and keep herself safe. She's a survivor, and I love that about her.

Like The Body Finder, The Pledge is told from multiple points of view, with Charlie telling her tale in first person, with the other povs (including that Max, and of the evil, ancient, power-mad queen) in third person. Max's pov passages give an insight into a fairly complex and complicated young man. The more you learn about his family, the more interesting his character becomes. 

I think that the format works even better here than in TBF. Gives it that epic fantasy vibe, while still maintaining an intimate relationship with Charlie and her secrets. Without spoiling the story, she and her family have quite a few of them, many unbeknownst to her and her adorable little sister.

But that epic fantasy feel is countered by scenes of modernity, like when Charlaina and her friend go out to a sort of "pop-up" nightclub/rave. The clandestine and fugitive nature of these clubs fuels the dystopian vibe, and makes the perfect setting for the intrigue that follows. And by the time all hell breaks loose, your concern for Charlie and her family will have you reading at breakneck pace to race to the end.

While the turnout of the final conflict might have been the tiniest bit predictable, in my opinion it was the only way to end. But there was some lingering creepiness that made for some extremely satisfying final pages. So to say I enjoyed this read would be an understatement. After The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Goliath, this was one of the most satisfying YA reads for me this year.

I hope you'll check out the other reviews on Goodreads and not just mine, but if you like a fast-paced dystopian with a hint of magic, this one's for you. If you liked The Body Finder, you'll most likely love The Pledge.

Read it yet? Let me know what y'all thought!


Krispy said...

*Flails* I've been wanting to read this book since I heard about it because I absolutely LOVE the premise. You don't even know.

So I'm delighted that you loved it THIS much! I was like you with The Body Finder; I enjoyed it but I didn't love it (and also I think I watch too many crime dramas, which made parts of it predictable for me). So while I was thrilled with the premise, it was also so different from TBF, and I wasn't sure what to expect from The Pledge.

Anyway, I'm going to have to get my hands on this ASAP!

Susan R. Mills said...

Another one to add to my list. My New Year's resolution should probably be to catch up on my reading list. It seems like every time I cross one book off, three or more new ones get added to it. :)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read it yet. I haven't read anything by Derting, but I do have The Body Finder. I keep telling myself to put it higher up my TBR pile. I've read so many good things about the author's work. Now I really want to read The Pledge.

Sherrie Petersen said...

I won the Body Finder but haven't read it because the premise kinda creeps me out (yes, I'm a wimp!). But I read an ARC of The Pledge and thought it was wonderful, too. She's a great writer.

Unknown said...

Oooh, I'm excited to read this one!! I loved The Body Finder - so great to see a wonderful review of this one! *adds to Christmas list*

Unknown said...

I love The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead, but I'm suffering from dystopian fatigue. I had to bump it off my TBR list. :(

Julie Musil said...

I haven't read it yet but it sounds amazing! What a cool premise. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Julie Dao said...

It DOES sound amazing! Thanks so much for the recommendation, Tere - I had never heard of this book but I'm SO adding to my Goodreads (behind the bajillion other YAs I recently added haha!).

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Oh, it does sound good! I haven't picked this up yet!

Kate Coursey said...

Thanks for the review! I haven't read either of the books, but I'll have to try this one. I'm a big fan of a good dystopian!