The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

By: Alyssa Wynans Email
By: Alyssa Wynans Email

So this week I was planning on reviewing The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. Based on the summary and the reviews on, I was pretty convinced that this book was what I had been waiting for my entire life. That was until I purchased it, started reading, and realized it was written in the stream of consciousness style. I really, really tried to read it. I promise. I just HATE basically anything written in stream of consciousness.

Sure, I appreciate it as a literary technique, but when it comes to I’m-just-reading-for-enjoyment books, I really hate it. But that’s just me. I know plenty of people who enjoy reading books written in that style (OK, that’s a lie. I think I know one person. Maybe). So, if you’re one of those people, I’m sure it’s fantastic and you should definitely read it. I, personally, didn’t make it past the second chapter.

Moral of the story: Investigate before you buy! If you are like me and have folded to the convenience of buying electronic books, Amazon has perfectly good previews ready to be read. If you’re in the bookstore, pick it up and read the first few chapters (duh).

Suffice it to say, I have learned my lesson and will no longer be judging a book based on the summary. Luckily, Amazon lets you return e-books within a couple of days after you buy.

All that being said, I will instead do a review of The Pledge by Kimberly Derting in honor of the second book of that series, The Essence, coming out in just a couple of months. This was one of my reads from this summer when I was devouring any book that resembled YA dystopian fiction, and this book fit the bill.

Here’s the gist: Charliana, aka Charlie, a 17 year old commoner in a future country ruled by an evil queen, can understand all languages automatically even if she’s never heard them before (in this country they speak a lot of languages). She’s been hiding it all her life from everyone except her family. Then one day she meets an attractive boy in a sketchy club and BOOM. Her life is never the same again.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed The Pledge. Derting did a great job of blending the dystopian genre with the fantasy and there were plenty of twists and turns that kept me interested along the way. The characters were very solid, but maybe not incredibly deep. I can at least say that I was entertained all the way through the book.

The premise with the evil queen was weird though. I’m realizing that maybe I just haven’t read enough fantasy in my time to appreciate the weird (such as in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, see review here), but it definitely caused some uncertainty in my overall feeling for the book.

Side note: If you saw “Snow White and the Huntsman” when it was out and remember the way Charlize Theron sucked the youth out of women, it was something like that in this book.

It wasn’t strange enough that I don’t want to read The Essence, though. As I said, The Pledge was thoroughly entertaining and definitely well-written, and I want to know what happens next. It was, for the most part, a successful foray into semi-fantasy.

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