The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Screams “paranormal teen romance” to me. I was not convinced by the cover, but rather by the:
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.
Yeah, the second volume is already out.
Eh, not really.
I loved the concept of a society strictly stratified by language. That concept is pretty much the only reason I decided to read the book.
Unfortunately, the characters are pretty much blank slates, who fall in instalove. When they’re not boring, they are emotionally unstable. Max is very Cullenesque, overprotective and a bit controlling before they even really know each other, and at one point Charlie is almost hysterical because she just can’t FIGURE OUT how she feels about Max–which is a weird reaction in my book, whatever the context.
Instalove. Yep, I’m gonna mention it twice, because I hate it that much. I have met people who claimed to actually fall in love at first sight, which…fine, I can’t argue that you didn’t feel what you felt, but that doesn’t make it interesting to read! Attraction/lust, obviously, is different, and is easy to experience at first sight, and easy to identify with in books. Teen authors are sometimes really bad at distinguishing the two, is all.
A killer concept that was ruined by boring characters, instalove, a few logical problems (a leader of a large resistance movement does NOT just introduce himself to someone who is new and unconvinced about the movement by saying, “Hi, I’m the leader of the resistance.” Also, the idea that no one (inadvertently or on purpose) picks up a few words of another language is pretty ridiculous and makes Charlie a SUPER SPESHUL SNOWFLAKE, in spite of the fact she’s so boring), and a mediocre writing style (oversimplified and often choppy).
Borrowed from work.