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A Reader of Fictions: Different Names for the Same Thing - Death Cab for Cutie

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, November 7, 2011

Different Names for the Same Thing - Death Cab for Cutie

The Pledge
The Pledge, Book 1

Author: Kimberly Derting
Pages: 321
ARC Acquired from: Simon & Schuster via Presenting Lenore

Brief Summary:
In the country of Ludania, the class you are born into determines pretty much everything about your life: the education you will receive, the clothes you wear, the work you do and even the language(s) you are able to speak and understand. Everyone can speak Englaise, but the lowest class can speak no others. The vendors, the next class up, speak Parshon as well. Each class has its own language that the lower classes cannot understand, nor may lower class people look at a higher class person while they speak a higher class language. The punishment for doing so is death. For some reason, Charlie (short for Charlaina) understands all of the languages, a skill that could get her killed.

Needless to say, I was really stoked about this book, especially since I got a free ARC from a giveaway through Presenting Lenore. You know me and my undying love for dystopias. Unfortunately, The Pledge did not fulfill my hopes. It had some good parts and some rather obnoxious parts, which I will attempt to enumerate somewhat in this review.

The Good:
A society based on discrepancies in language is a very interesting idea, especially since, in some senses, this has been done in real cultures, such as how Russian royals used to speak in French. Intriguing, too, were the seemingly magical powers possessed by Charlie and the Queen of the realm. Why do only women have the capability to have such powers? I don't know, but, heck yeah, strong women! Actually, one of the few things I really liked about Charlie is that she spoke almost entirely in Englaise, because she didn't see the point of making things hard on people. Why not speak so everyone could understand?

The Bad:
While I liked the language differences, I had trouble accepting that people were incapable of ever learning a language they were not born with. This just isn't how language works so far as I know. Not being allowed to speak an upper crust language, I get, but being incapable of ever learning or speaking it?

Another thing I really didn't like was what transpired in one particular scene. Charlie and her best friend Brooklynn go to an illegal nightclub, despite being underage (woo, doubly illegal!). When let in, they receive hand stamps, much like clubs now have for those below the drinking age, only these are laced with drugs to loosen people up. Charlie feels some ill effects from hers, so she decides to wander around the building and finds a secret hallway. Discovered by a mysterious, vaguely creepy, secretive guy, she lets him put something else on her hand (supposedly to help, but what does she know?!?) and falls asleep trustingly. To be fair, nothing untoward occurred, but I just want to say that no one should ever do this. Charlie is a bad role model!

The Obnoxious:
While the overarching plot had some interesting things going on, the romance running through it was just completely stereotypical YA and barftastic. The words describing any encounter between Charlie and Max are reminiscent of such works as Twilight, Personal Demons, or Hereafter. Here's a sample scene of the two of them, just after their first makeout session: "I was still shaking when I finally turned my head away, ending the kiss. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done. My lips felt swollen and raw, and achingly cold in the absence of his" (265). The hardest thing she ever had to do? Really? Come on.

At this juncture, I do not know if I will be trying the sequel; I may have to just to figure out why a sequel needs to exist, as this seems to have wrapped up the existing plot threads. For those of you who enjoy melodramatic teenage romances complete with instalove and some dystopian business, The Pledge will satisfy your every desire.

"The boundaries of language I quietly cursed
And all the different names for the same thing."

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Blogger Nori said...

I could have warned you about her romance! But, I still really like her. Her romance in her other books is kind of the same...but sometimes that's what I want to read....

November 8, 2011 at 10:20 AM  

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