The Pledge was phenomenal.
No seriously, I LOVED it!! Thank you Kimberly Derting for a great dystopian novel with twists and turns that made sense and a main character I'd definitely want to know and be friends with.
If you think dystopian has been done to death/is all the same, this book proves there's still room to explore. The concept of a caste system based on language simply blew my mind. It was so smart: How do people fight oppression if they can't even speak to each other? How do they communicate when, by law, you have to look away whenever a person belonging to a higher class starts talking in their language? The evil Queen Sabara counted on this fact to keep the naysayers apart, and it does.
But then there's Charlie.
As a member of the working class, the seventeen-year-old should only be able to understand Parshon--but she has a secret. Charlie can interpret every word she hears regardless of what language it's spoken in. In her world, the ability to interpret is a crime punishable by death, so she plays dumb. Even when girls from the higher class berate her to her face, she looks away. Even when a boy she barely knows speaks to her in a language she's never heard before, Charlie pretends not to understand. One slip could be fatal. But when her best friend, Brook, is in danger, Charlie does slip--and the mysterious boy, Max, notices.
Will Max expose her secret? Who is he really? These questions and more are all answered in the book. The storytelling here was amazing. To me, it sort of read like a dark fairytale (i.e. evil queen, lower glass girl with power). But the realistic contemporary voice, the attention to detail, the relatable characters, these were the elements that made it a great read.
Derting did so much right, but I have to say my favorite parts (and her greatest successes imo) were the sections written from Charlie's POV. Now, that is most of the book, so I'll narrow it down. What really made me love Charlie was her unfailing loyalty. To her friends, her family, her little sister. The girl was one tough cookie. Angelina, Charlie's younger sister, was also a favorite. In a country defined by language, the girl has no voice. She literally can't speak, but Charlie understands her/communicates with her in a way that really makes you see their bond. Charlie always put Angelina's safety first; she never once became that sullen teenager who behaves like a jerk simply b/c she's an adolescent. Charlie was better than that. She had a real love for her sister, and I liked how that was so clear/believable/wonderful.
The pacing was great, the characters were stellar, and it has a beautiful cover J What more can you ask for? I'd recommend this book. I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it (and how quickly I read through it).
Hope everyone's having a great week,
P.S. I saw some other reviews (bad ones) on goodreads, and I can't believe how different my feelings are. Charlie was so strong, for herself and others. Sometimes I have to talk around the parts that didn't work for me in a book, but that was not the case here. I just really loved it :D