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Teen Book Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Do not be fooled by The Pledge‘s cover- it isn’t as dark or sinister as this weird cover makes it seem.

Book Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

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The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Title & Author: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Genre: YA- Fantasy (Dystopian)

Release Date: November 15, 2011

Series: 1st in a planned series…I think

Publisher: Simon Schuster

How I Got the Book:ARC from the publisher


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…

Excited to Read More

As a writer, I really enjoy books that deal with using language in different ways. Not a lot of fantasy books incorporate language as a part of the magic system, so it was really refreshing to see that showcased in The Pledge.

Charlaina, or Charlie as her friends call her, is a part of the Vendor class- sort of a middle or working class. Derting does a great job of making these social/economic groups realistic and outfits them with relatable problems that could (and do) exist today.

Among these groups, there are different languages. The poorest class speaks the common language Englaise and the Vendor class speaks Parshon. Although the Vendor class can understand Englaise (because everyone can), the poorer class cannot physically or legally understand Parshon. The same is true of the upper classes, as well. It’s the most basic way divide the masses and keep citizens under control.

The “magic”-ish part of the system is that Charlie can understand any language she hears. Even if she’s never heard it before, she can understand what’s being said. That’s an extremely rare and potentially life-threatening gift, as the queen views all anomalies like Charlie to be a threat to the kingdom.

In that sense, The Pledge is a very political book- it deals with social and economic concepts that I think teens and adults can understand. In other words, The Pledge is like Poison Study and The Girl of Fire and Thorns– it isn’t just for teens.

Plus, although Charlie goes to school, 90 percent of the book does not actually occur AT her school. Even though that aspect of the book didn’t fall into the “types of book I need a break from reading,” there were some other elements that did…

Lack of Surprise

…like the dreaded insta-love. Ok, Charlie fought it for like 5 pages, then gave resisting. Ugh. I did enjoy the romance in this book overall, though. The one good thing about Charlie resisting it a least a little is the tension it creates, which is always a page-turner in my book (no pun intended).

The only thing that disappointed me a little about the Pledge is the lack of surprise throughout the book. I’m not always the best at predicting what will happen in books, but I saw the twists in this novel from a mile away. Even the end of the book lacked some originality.

Due to it’s other pretty awesome qualities, I definitely don’t consider that to be a big flaw in The Pledge.


The Pledge was a quick, engaging read. Although it lacked the element of surprise, it made up for it with this unique magic system, exciting romance and relatable storyline. The Pledge comes out next week (Nov. 15), and I hope you pick up a copy!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Truly Bookish

    Great review, I just started and it and it’s good so far. I’m bracing myself for the insta-love….
    Truly Bookish

  • Definitely a great review. I’m actually reading it right now, so I’m very curious what I’ll end up thinking after having read soo many different thoughts about it. I’m really enjoying it so far though! I too like the part language plays. I’ve never come across that before!

  • I finished this one already, and it was a bit disappointing for me. Overall, a decent read and well-written. I was annoyed by the Charlie and Max romance in the first half of the book, but it got better toward the end.

    And the very end with them…. Well, you know. Was that just going too fast, or what? Seemed Randomy-McRandom, and like we missed a couple of years, or something.

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