The Pledge is fairly typical as far as young adult dystopian novels go--teenager Charlie Hart lives in a North American world that was changed a few hundred years ago (though we're never told precisely how or why), and is now ruled by a Queen with some magical powers. In Charlie's world, it's the female line in the royal house which must inherit the throne, and the current Queen, Sabara, is fast approaching the end of her life without a girl to take over when she dies. But all that is far away from Charlie's day to day life as the daughter of a Vendor; her main concern is helping her parents in their restaurant and making sure she follows the intricate rules of language that separates the classes. On the surface, Charlie seems to be fairly typical, with her friends Aron and Brooklynn attending school, but actually Charlie has two major secrets she must make sure never come out: Charlie, despite no training, understands every language she hears, and her mute younger sister Angelina also has a very unique gift. Should either secret come to light, it would mean the gallows.
I really enjoyed The Pledge right up until the final few pages which seemed a bit forced as far as resolving the storyline. Charlie is very believable as a young woman unsure of herself yet determined to protect her sister at all costs, but her relationship with the mysterious Max found me stretching my limits of credibility. It was hard to understand how Charlie felt so strongly for a boy who mysteriously shows up and doesn't tell her who or what he is, appearing and disappearing randomly, but seemingly with very strong feelings for a girl he's never met. I did, however, like the equally secretive Xander, and the epilogue leaves room for a sequel. The deep bond between the sisters was the glue for the entire story as far as I'm concerned, and I'd love to see what happens in the future with all these characters. Overall, this is a good entry in the dystopian young adult genre, and I'll definitely look forward to reading more about this unique look at the future.