I won this one a little while back from my friend, Christina’s blog. Not everyone loves Kimberly Derting, but I so do! I love her Body Finder series. And I absolutely adored this book. I know it kind of seems like I love everything I read, but lately I’ve just been so impressed with the YA books I’ve been reading. And Derting has totally won my respect for this one.
She has developed such an interesting and unique dystopian world. Her main character is amazing. She combines, war, dystopia, romance, and royalty in this one. There’s torture, death, bombings, evil queens, revolutions, first love, and secret powers all in one book! What about that sounds bad?
It’s about Charlie. She has the amazing ability to understand all languages without ever really learning them. Unfortunately for her, she lives in a society where the people are divided by the languages they can speak. The poor people have one language, the merchants have one language, the wealthy have another language, and the royalty have one only few know how to speak at all. And once you are born into your place in the world, you can’t ever change; you can only know the language that fits your class.
Charlie’s parents have forced her to hide her ability since they found out she had it. They also are working on having her younger sister learn to hide her own special abilities. They never really explained why this needs to be hidden, but then things happen, and it’s hard to question. Like, when Charlie breaks a rule and actually looks someone of an upper class in the eye when they are speaking their own language, the consequences for her should be death. Seriously, in this world, all it takes is looking at someone when they are speaking a higher up language, and off you go to be executed!
Thankfully, Charlie gets away with it out of luck. But most people don’t. The queen has a very strict set of rules, and this has resulted in a revolution. Many are fighting against her, and the land is constantly going through drills and then actual attacks. There’s a lot of time spent in hiding, underground from bombs. There’s also the side story of the queen and how she got to be the way she is. For centuries, the oldest royal daughter born becomes queen. Men never rule. And the queen is always the same. The same essence takes over each girl’s body. So Ludania has only really ever seemed to have one queen (not that anybody really knows this).
Charlie falls hard for a soldier, Max, in a night club she goes to with her best friend. She goes to these clubs partly because her friend is boy-crazy, and partly because these sort of illegal places (where underage girls get stamped with a drug that makes them “looser”) are the only places where class and language don’t seem to matter. Everyone dances and drinks with everyone and no one gets in trouble for looking up when a different language is being spoken.
And as the romance and the story builds, it becomes more and more clear that there was a lot more than the mere thought of death that was keeping Charlie’s parents so secretive. They make sure at all costs that their daughters stay as far away from the queen as possible. Soon, it’s up to Charlie to save the lives of everyone she cares about. She finds herself walking a thin line between hiding to protect herself and her sister and joining the revolution. No one is who they seem to be. And Charlie will have to decide what is more important to her: the ones she loves, her country, or herself.
So, I really did not want to give a lot away here. But, be warned I am about to give a little something away right now. Charlie learns she is actually a long lost royal daughter. And the main reason she needs to stay hidden is because if the queen were to find out, her body would be taken over by the queen’s spirit, and Charlie would be gone forever. Oh, and the queen is very old and desperate because she has no female heirs to pass her essence to.
And I’m bringing this up because I just love how Derting handled this. I love how Charlie hated the idea of being a queen, yet she never whined about her life. She struggled so much to survive, but never complained. She did everything she did for her sister. And I loved her for not whining about how hard her life was! She took it, lived it, and eventually fought it. I loved the other characters too! Her parents clearly loved her. Her sister was just so awesome. Charlie could speak every language, but her sister never spoke at all. And she reminded me so much of Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time!
The queen storyline was really interesting too! It reminded me of some the evil queen’s storyline in Once Upon a Time. I would have loved to have gotten more of the revolutionary story. I felt like Charlie just kind of accepted that really quickly. How did everyone living underground get there? What made them join this cause? And why were they so willing to accept a different queen? Why any queen at all?
And the only thing that I honestly was not a huge fan of was the romance. I loved the tension between Charlie and Max, really, I did. I just felt like it kind of came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, Max will do anything, risk anything, and be anything to protect a girl who continuously rejects him? I feel like there was something missing here, some important connection scene that was cut out. Still though, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t eat up the romance.I give this one a 9/10. I really loved it. I was just so impressed with the story, the concept, the world, and the characters. Really, Derting has won my respect for this one. And I really hope she continues Charlie’s story!