The Pledge attempts to marry dystopian with fairytale and for the most part is successful. Similar in many aspects to Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (which merges fairy tale with science fiction), we have the typical evil queen, her minions, love interest prince, and princess in disguise. But I found the writing in The Pledge to be a bit better and the main character a lot more grounded. As well, the book has a solid arc despite being first in a series.
Charlaina (Charlie) and her sister live in a dystopian American future where the society has a rigid caste system. Languages stratify the layers and a Queen with magical abilities holds power. But the Queen is dying and she needs a new sacrifice: a new body to take over. There are those who would overthrow the queen, including members of her own family, and Charlie will find herself thrown into the middle of the revolution. For she and her sister have special abilities that will make them very important to the Queen and the Rebellion.
The writing of The Pledge is surprisingly strong and there were very few points, if any, with logic holes or stupid characters. Charlie is a grounded but practical main character who doesn’t rush into conclusions or actions. If anything, since we are given POVs of the Queen and Charlie’s love interest Max, Charlie’s hesitation to act was a bit frustrating. This is the type of book that would have unraveled much more smoothly and interestingly if the author had kept to one POV and so we could have discovered plot points along with Charlie only.
I am rating this as four stars but really it was a 3.5 for me. As with The Lunar Chronicles, I just don’t enjoy the fairytale subtext and so didn’t enjoy the book as much as others. I was hoping for more dystopian than fairy tale. That said, the blend was very well done and the author clearly thought out situations to create a solid story.
The story continues in book 2 but I find I’m not compelled enough to continue with the series. That lack of interest has more to do with my own personal interest in not wanting a fairytale than in the quality of the book or writing, which were good.
Note: I listened to the Audible version and the narrator did a decent, but not great, job. She was very flat and so the book felt flat as well.