I was really excited for this book before it came out, mostly from the cover. It’s a gorgeous cover. Then I read the summary and I knew I had to read it. It just struck too many chords with me to ignore. After the first chapter, I knew I’d picked correctly because this book, guys, was amazing.
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, 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. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom….
The first thing that comes to mind when I read that summary is the Caste System in India. It’s so against the ideas America was founded on, where someone from the poorest circumstances can become whoever they want with enough work and smarts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know a thing or two about classes here. If you think about it, really think about it, this could one day happen in the US. We could be divided by classes and forced to only interact with our peers. It happens to a certain extent already, which you know all too well if you’re in high school. Scary thought, right? But with enough power, a small group of people could make this happen.
Charlaina Hart (aka Charlie) finds herself having to navigate a very slippery path because she can understand all the languages. Tensions are extremely high as the threat of rebellion against the Queen and the class system increases daily. Checkpoints every 100 feet, constant need for paperwork at the ready, alarms going off at night… basically, everyone’s really jumpy. So I don’t blame her for going to a club with her friend for a night of dancing and hanging out with a cute boy she just met. It’s also not her fault for accidentally getting entangled with some sketchy people and doesn’t know who to trust.
We get several POVs throughout the book, which gives us several insights into the political and socioeconomic status of Ludania. Charlie’s is definitely my favorite, but getting the occasional Queen’s point of view was interesting.
There’s a definite supernatural element to the story that I won’t go into because I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s good. And kind of cool. Also, I’m pretty sure the Queen is a Sith Lord. You’ll understand why when you read.
Mystery boy was a definite mystery. I wasn’t sure about him until near the end. Oh! I also really liked Charlie’s sister, Angelica. She was a sweetheart and you really got the sense her and Charlie had a tight sister bond, of which I was a little jealous.
Overall, it was a fascinating read. You do get a sort of conclusion at the end, which was nice since I was fully expecting the ‘big event’ to be dragged through to book two. I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next book, The Essence, which comes out (sigh) next January. What a dreadfully long time to wait. In the meantime, all of you can read The Pledge and then we can commence speculating on what will happen next.