Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: McElderry Books
Publication Date: November 2011
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Book Summary (from Goodreads)
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
I had a hard time rating this book. Not because its bad. No, its a good read. My problem is that I wanted it to be something more than it was. I loved the fact that Derting has taken the ideas of a fantasy world and a dystopian world and melded them together into something really unique. I loved that. I also loved the idea of Sabara’s succession and how that works. The possibilities for that to be complicated and really dramatic are fantastic. I even loved Charlie and Brook and Angelina. My problem was that when I got to the end, something was missing.
The beginning of the novel starts well enough. When the languages change, it takes some getting used to to understand that they’re speaking the Vendor language when its italics, and Englaise when it wasn’t. But you get used to it and move on. There were a few times when I had to remind myself that it was part fantasy world and part dystopian, which I really enjoyed. The interaction between characters was good, and I liked the relationship that Charlie, Brook, and Aron all had. I just wished there had been more. Charlie’s relationship with Aron wasn’t well defined enough for me. He’s important, and yet there’s nothing that happens between them to make you really believe that. With Brook its more concrete and defined, though she accepts the revelations about Brook at the end a little too smoothly for my taste.
What really troubled me was Max. Her romance with Max is swift, complete, and sort of out of left field. She has feelings, she flirts a little, but spends most of her time running and being afraid of his motives, then suddenly they are deeply in love. I wish there had been more to it than that.
Also, while I realize this is part of a series, I found myself when I neared the end, wondering how they would resolve the conflict with the queen in such a short span. And the whole scene was rather anticlimactic. They make a huge fuss over everything and how strong the Queen is and her will, but it doesn’t seem to take more than three pages to defeat her. Maybe in subsequent books (and its hinted at in the epilogue) this will be explained. I hope so, because it was a little too easy for me.
I’m interested to see where this goes, but I’m not sure I’m interested enough to run out and get the next books right away.
All the same, it was a good read, and fans of fantasy and dystopian fiction will enjoy it. Try it out!
Where to Find the Book
Book was purchased by reviewer.