In this dystopian/alternate world novel, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, the country of Lundania is on the brink of war. The Queen, whose magical powers pass down through generations, is growing old and does not have a female heir. In Lundania, and the surrounding countries, a Queen must be on the throne in order to be recognized as a country. Lundania, and its class system, is slowly falling apart. Language is the tool used to determine what class a person is in, and if one tries to go outside their class the immediate punishment is death. Seventeen year old Charlaina (Charlie) has the ability to understand all languages, both spoken and written. Her parents are very protective of her and her younger sister Angelina, in fear that if the Queen knew about her ability she would be put to death. Charlie and her family are a part of a lower class, and she is constantly taunted by the higher class girls who see Charlie as different and unusual. One night, after being dragged to an underground club by her best friend Brooklyn, Charlie meets a boy that will change her life forever. Charlie must gather courage she didn’t know she had to protect the ones that she loves, and even the ones who have tormented her all of her life.
The Pledge has quite a unique take on the new dystopian novels that seem to be filling the shelves more and more. Derting creates complex characters and really takes time trying to flesh them out and make the reader care about their outcomes. There are some parts of the novel, particularly the middle, that seem to drag, but once the action picks up the novel is very difficult to put down. The epilogue leaves room for a sequel, but the ending provides enough satisfaction that the reader is not left hanging until the next installment.