In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom…
I absolutely loved the concept that Charlie could understand multiple languages. We’re not talking foriegn languages like we know them, but in Charlie’s world, everyone is seperated by class. Each class speaks their own language, making it almost impossible to move up the social ladder because you can’t understand anyone! I liked how Kimberly Derting portrayed Charlie’s struggle hiding the fact she can understand mulitple languagues and how difficult it was to not respond when spoken to in a language she shouldn’t be able to understand. I know it would be hard to hold my tongue with all the crude and mean things people from the upper class said to her. There were moments that were the quintessential example of bullying. Words hurt, even if you can’t understand them, and especially when you CAN understand them. Anyway, I felt this concept was unique and interesting. It added tension to the story and kept the reader on his/her toes, not to mention a whole lot of mystery!
There were a couple moments in this book that took my breath away. The author, Kimberly Derting, hit the dialogue spot on. I felt like I knew the characters and they were responding in a consistent manner to their unique personalities. I loved the banter between Max and Charlie. In one instance, as they are hiding underground from the bombing, Max’s response before he is discovered took my breath away. I don’t want to give too much away because this moment is practically a mid-book climax; regardless, it was awesome. I couldn’t stop thinking about their converstation. I mull it over in my head and daydream about what my personal reaction would be. *sigh*
This book was a pretty strong beginning to a series. I was intrigued throughout, however, I felt the end was a little strange. I just wish that it would have gone a different way. It had the typical “resistance-to-controlled-enviroment” cliche but what happens throughout the end is, quite honestly, disappointing. I was like, really? THAT’S where you’re going to take this amazing story?? The ending had its climactic moments and dramatic reveals, but I thought the whole concept was strange; it didn’t vibe well with the rest of the novel. It felt like the concept for the story dramatically changed midway through its creation, dissecting the novel into two different parts. I also felt like the relationship between Charlie and Max came to an abrupt halt towards the end. All that juicy build up and it just dwindles down to nothing, and then the reader is expected to believe in their love in the end, without any evidence other than the begining? I would like to see more character development betweeen the two. However, I do think Max and Charlie have plenty of chemistry. I’m still excited to see where everything goes.
I really liked this novel. It was surprising and original. The world Derting created was dark but inviting. The ending made me a little circumspect, but I would recommend that you see for yourself. The ending was still good, my distaste was from my own personal opinion and preferences. You might really enjoy what happens. I still enjoyed the novel as a whole, and I intend to continue reading this series. The sequel, The Essence, comes out January 29, 2013.