The Essence (The Pledge, Book Two) by Kimberly Derting
YA dystopian*Hardcover & e-book, 352 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.
Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.
As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with theultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.
In the privacy of my dreams, I'm a warrior.
I'm still me, of course, just a tougher version of me. More valiant and fearless.
I've always loved those dreams, the ones in which I can wield a weapon without breaking a sweat, or cut a man's throat without blinking an eyelash. In them, my body is honed and fine-tuned. My mind is as focused as any Canshai master of lore's, and I, too, can move objects simply through my powers of concentration. My spirit is dogged.
No one can stop me. I am invincible.
I tried to summon those feelings now, as I lay facedown in the mud, blinking furiously against the grit blinding me, and spitting out mouthfuls of pond scum. Unsteadily, I wobbled as I rose to my feet, moving entirely too slowly, my legs trembling beneath me.
I am fierce, I tried again to convince myself, but that unblinking resolve I so desperately craved had been seriously shaken.
My weapon had disappeared somewhere in the slimy pit I had just pulled myself from, so it was only me...and my opponent. I needed to think quickly. I knew he wouldn't wait long before striking again.
About the author:
Kimberly is the author of the BODY FINDER series (HarperCollins) and THE PLEDGE trilogy (Simon & Schuster). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the ideal place to write anything dark or creepy...a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. She lives with her husband and their three beautiful (and often mouthy) children who provide an endless source of inspiration.
The Pledge is one of those books I put off reading for a number of reasons but one title I knew I would eventually get around to reading. When this tour came about, I quickly jumped on it because I knew THIS was my way of reading this series. I'm kicking myself for taking so long. I mean, c'mon, I practically devoured this author's Body Finder series. Screamed inside like a One Direction fan girl when I was able to pick up the ARC of Dead Silence last year. And now I can happily say I have read the first two books in this series.
First, I have to say The Pledge is unlike most of the dystopians I've read. It's about a futuristic society but it feels like a fantasy from older times with a kingdom, a caste system and a ruling queen. What drew me in were how the classes were divided by their use of different languages. Charlaina is seventeen, a student, and she has a secret only her parents know about. She can understand any language she hears. Very cool ability. She's level headed, loves her family, especially younger sister, Angelina, as well as her best friends, Aron and Brooklyn. When she overhears a young man, Max, speak a language she's never heard before, it is the beginning of an intense new life for her.
What I love about reading a Kimberly Derting book is her style and way of writing. She knows exactly what to say, writes in a easy, flowing way and I adore her romance scenes and the way she handles her character's feelings and thoughts. I also love her handling of descriptions. Her stories jump off the page and become movies inside my mind. I liked how the author mixes up the narration again, smoothly switching from Charlie in first person to Max or The Queen in third person, and the changes were easy to follow. I enjoyed the slower pacing since this is the type of book to immerse oneself in, instead of flying across the pages. I wanted to experience Charlie's world and the author took us on her journey. Luckily, the book did not end on a cliffhanger and I had a copy of The Essence on hand to jump directly into.
The Essence continued Charlie's story now that she is Queen of Ludania and has to deal with Sabara's essence inside of her (talk about mind games!). Besides that, there's still the problem of unhappy residents in her kingdom and someone wants her dead. So Charlie's life as a teen has become more intense. I was glad to see her close friends, Brooklynn and Aron, making things interesting. Inner turmoil, external strife, this new queen is just trying to stay alive while trying to enact new rules, make actual changes and attend the occasional political summit.
The pacing slowed down in the second book while Charlie had this inner struggle with a strengthening Sabara inside her. Watching Charlie's character development from book one throughout this book is truly what kept me reading. Her lack of experience and knowledge of ruling a kingdom is what makes her seek advice from the wicked queen fighting inside of her to take control of the teen's mind and body. Yet, Charlie holds her own, even remembering her roots and making sure to help the people. I really missed Max and wasn't into Niko as a new love interest for Charlie. I did wonder over Brooklynn's new role in the second book and din't see this coming at all. I wonder what the author will do with the final installment of this series and when it's released I know I will definitely read it a lot sooner.
Ratings: The Pledge: 4; The Essence: 3.5
Cover comment: I found the first cover mysterious but this cover just seems repetitive.
Book source: I owned The Pledge and I received a hardcover copy of The Essence from the publisher in return for my honest review during a blog tour.