Publishing Info: November 5, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 18, 2012
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 definitely think the second half of this book was the strong part. I was actually surprised how long I felt that it took for us to really start moving with the story. Once we finally started moving into the nitty gritty, I was like “Wow, this is really cool!” but up until then I was like, “Okay, this chick is interesting. But what’s the REAL story?”
I think one reason I was kind of disappointed is simply because it was another book that I built up in my head before I read it. I was just so in love with the concept because I’m a language person (Spanish major and I’ve dabbled in Italian, German, and French) so I was thrilled to see a story where this girl can understand any language. Now that I’m reflecting back on it, I guess I was hoping she was going to use that more instead of obeying her parents and covering it up all the time. I really wished that should would have been a bit more exciting and took a few more risks, other than to stick her neck out to constantly protect her little sister (noble and all, but still). If we had seen a bit more of Brooklyn’s character in Charlie and not have had them so polarized as far as personality goes, I think it would have spiced up the story and made me feel like there was a little something more to keep me on the edge of my seat. I think if I could change one thing about the first half of the book, it would be that – a more daring Charlie that uses her talent to really show it off to the reader and not just passively listen to people’s conversation.
I guess part of me also feels that as far as dystopians go, I understand that all of them – to a certain extent – need to have an uprising against the authority, but too many of them are just blending together in my head. This had a lot of feel of the Matched series (I guess specifically Reached, which I stopped and will later come back to because I was not feeling it) and I couldn’t help but make comparisons in my head while I was reading. I guess I’m starting to tire of the whole militant/community uprising aspect to save a society from tyranny (a la the Matched trilogy (Reached specifically), Divergent/Insurgent) versus a more personal quest to keep freedoms (The Giver, the Chemical Garden Trilogy, Delirium (although I guess Pandemonium kind of takes on a more “militant” feel…).
As far as the love connection goes, I was just kind of ‘meh’ about Charlie and Max. As much as it was a quick connection, I didn’t feel like it was “insta-love”y, so that’s good, but even still, I didn’t quite make it there to really be like “YES make this relationship happen!” I think I never really quite made a connection with him so I never really made a connection with the relationship.
The second half of the book was really great and I love the direction it took towards the end, as well as a few twists here and there. Mostly, I feel like now everything’s been established and we can really get into the meat of this story and book one was more like a light snack. I’m really interested to see what happens in book two now!
Charlie: I just wanted a little more of a rebel out of Charlie — Not to go so far as to make her reckless, but enough to get her into small troubling situations either caused by her gift or forcing her to use her gift to get herself out of those situations. I felt like we didn’t really see much out of it except for her passively overhearing conversations. I think if Charlie was a little bit more of a self-starter, it would have spiced up the first half of the book and kept me a bit more on the edge of my seat.
Brooklyn: I was really hoping that Brooklyn would lend a little bit of her spunk and outgoingness to Charlie to give her a little more “oomph”. Brooklyn was the best friend character that got Charlie out there and into the small sticky situations and it really brought some charm to her personality, in my personal opnion. I really like where her character ended up and that we get a little bit more of her past in the second half of the book. That was nicely developed!
Aron: I was really hoping for more development from Aron’s character… I felt like he was just used as a plot tool later on in the book and really could have been taken out of the book entirely now that I think about it. He was kind of an unnecessary second best friend and I’m kind of disappointed that his character wasn’t involved more. Or maybe he was and that was something that eventually got cut from the final book! Who knows. Maybe we’ll get to see more of him in book two!
Max: Surprisingly, I was just kind of ‘eh’ with Max. I loved The Body Finder from Derting and the Violet/Jay relationship in that book was so well done! One of my favorites. I was kind of hoping for something like that between Charlie and Max, but for me, I just never got there. All of the right words were on the page but I couldn’t pick up the feeling behind them, unfortunately, because Kimberly Derting has some fantastic passages and descriptions! I just didn’t quite connect with Max.
This was a fun book! I wasn’t totally in love with it but I enjoyed it and I’m definitely interested to see where it goes.