Series: The Pledge 1
Debut: November 15, 2011
Read: April 20-23, 2013
Challenges: Hard Heart A-Z 2013
Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.
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.
Rogue Chronicles Entry No. 53
Title & Cover: I first didn't think much about the title, but while reading I discovered it had several meanings for the book, so it was a very good choice. As for the cover, I bought the UK paperback edition, kinda accidentially, but I really like the original cover [click it to enlarge in a new tab] better, so this is probably going to be a re-buy for me this year, although the Hardcover costs so much more.
Concept: The people of Ludania live devided by language, each class has it's own. Lower classes are not permitted to look at higher ranked individuals while they speak their superior language. It is considered a crime and, like any other crime, punished by death. The whole thing was cooked up by the evil Queen who has been passing down her "Essence" onto the next princess for centuries, meaning she's been in charge for way too long. Male heirs are barely acknowledged. The rebel forces want to set an end to her rule, but they need to find a new queen for their cause first -- one of the old lineage. Because only the females in the bloodline have magical powers which empower them to rule the land and get ackowledged by the surrounding queendoms.
Names: Naming children after citites that got reduced to mere statistics is a great concept, although most of the names weren't anything over the top phenominal. However, Queen Sabara and main character Charlaina aka Charlie had outstanding names, and I liked them alot. It put them together on the same step right in the beginning.
Characters: There were quite a few to discover, and they were all great.
Charlaina, the female lead, may have acted childish by denying things real fast, but she knew when acceptence was finally in order, when she had to make a stand, and made the right choices when it came down to it. She sensibly and authentically struggled with her emotions regarding Max, and let her heart get the better of her only at the right moments, when the only one getting hurt would be her. For me, she was one hell of a heroine, very expectional.
Max, the male lead, who I fell in love with because of how he fell in love with Charlie, how his feelings and the actions upon them were described. Of course, that he was awesomeness in a uniform helped a lot, too. 😛
Xander gets all points for being mysterious, compassionate, serious, honest, the leader of the rebellion, and for his background story, that was told a bit between the lines.
Brooklynn and Angelina were the surprise packages in this one, and I loved them both for it. I can't wait to see how the little sister develops, and if best friend Brook can find true love the same way that Charlie did.
Max' guards, Zafir and Claude, as well as Xander's right hand woman, Eden, get full points for being the most loyal friends you could have, and for still having stories to tell I'm looking forward to!
Plot: I felt like this was a very steady development, the pushes onto the next level were placed at the right times. First questions start to build up, and then answers are given as we come closer to the end. A constant arc of suspense with little bombshells in between. Very well balanced.
As far as style goes, I can't say I was glued to the pages, but that's not something bad. It was nice that after one of those little bombs exploded, you get occupied with new plot pushing forward or a chance to breathe because things slow down just a little. It was good that you had the time to actually take it all in.
And the best part was the steady undercurrent of emotions. I don't think I've come across a book like that before, it was amazing. You were very close to the characters' emotions in this one, even when something else happened. It was teaching you flat out that the head can't shut off the heart, no matter what. In general too, there was so much said between the lines... gosh, I wish I could write like that.
Overall: Strong females: check. Evil Queen: check. Fantasy/Magic: check. A Rebellion: check. A (starting out) forbidden romance: check. Hot guys in uniforms: check. A new favorite in my collection, and I hope to find time for the sequel The Essence very, very soon!
Area Scan: Flow: 5/5 -- Vocab: 4/5 -- Plot: 5/5 -- Heroes: 5/5 -- Villains: 4/5
Romance: 3.5/5 -- Drama: 4/5 -- Action: 5/5 -- Suspense: 3.5/5 -- Humor: 5/5 -- Fantasy: 5/5