Monday, January 14, 2013

The Essence by Kimberly Derting

So, I actually made my friends wait in my heated car, while I ran into Barnes and Noble, the night this came out. As I was parking, one of my friends said, “I thought she was kidding about a late night bookstore run.” My friends who have known me longer were like, “We knew she wasn’t kidding.” I seriously don’t understand my need to buy books the day they come out, particularly when I cannot even get to them for a while…This one I made time for immediately. I absolutely loved book 1, The Pledge (read that review here).
And as soon as my friends had gone home, I started this book…It hasn’t gotten as good of reviews as book 1 has, but I actually think I enjoyed it more than book 1. [I am about to spoil some of book 1, so don’t read this review if you haven’t finished the first book yet.] It begins shortly after the first book finishes. Charlie is now queen, after “defeating” the last queen at the end of book 1. No one knows, except possibly her younger sister, that the evil essence of the old queen is still in Charlie. Yet, ever since Charlie made the much-feared oath in book 1, she has had a glow, literally. She glows like a beacon, and whenever a certain revolutionary guy kisses her, she glows even more.
I know that sounds corny, but it actually didn’t bother me. It felt more like an X-Men thing and less like a Twilight sparkle thing, somehow. Any way, the world outside the castle is rather mixed up. Not everyone is okay with the changes Charlie has made. While people seem to be pretty down with getting rid of public execution, laws for executions, and law prohibiting free speech, not everyone is cool with attending schools with people who were once known to be of a lower class.
The people who used to be the higher class are still prejudiced of the lower classes. And the lower classes are still afraid to look everyone in the eye (because the punishment for this used to be death). There are many assassination attempts on Charlie. And the person heading the assassination attempts and rounding up other new policy haters is Charlie’s best friend’s father. Brook is now actually in charge of Charlie’s army and security. And it’s hard for Brook sometimes to always have to work one step ahead of her father.
This book, like the first one, has it all: politics, languages, super powers, pissed off society, revolutions, assassination attempts, kidnappings, rescues, adventures and journeys, royalty, balls, mystery, explosions, school shootings, and plenty of death. At the opening of the first school to accept students of all classes/languages, Charlie goes to make her first public/glowing speech. And while monitoring the school’s first day, she is simultaneously betrayed by someone close to her and also partially to blame for the deaths of many innocent children. Brook’s father brought in guns and bombs to the school, killing anyone protecting Charlie and any kids who got in the way.
Around the time of that school day, Charlie is invited to a summit of sorts for all of the queens of the realm, and because she cares about her people (probably more than they do for her), she wants to build good relations with other queens to form trades and better communication. Unfortunately for Charlie, trouble follows her everywhere. There’s not a ton of romance in this one because Charlie and Max are separated for a lot of this book, and I was totally okay with this. The romance was sort of the one thing that bothered me about book 1. It all just happened too quickly for me. And this one was all about Charlie telling Max she wasn’t ready for marriage yet. She wanted to get used to being a queen first and learning things for herself before going there, and I loved her so much more for this decision!
On top of the constant action, suspense, and danger, there’s also the whole thing about Charlie battling with the essence of the old queen. There are some serious Joker-from Batman-type crazy moments where Charlie wakes up in the hallways shaking and screaming. The old queen is definitely still there, and she most certainly makes her presence known at the summit, when a certain immortal man from her past shows up. Poor Charlie finds herself so drawn to another man because its who the old queen loves. And the inklings of a light triangle start to form.
There’s a little history about the queen/essence that I found fascinating too! I seriously love everything about that storyline. I also loved getting some other characters’ point of views, like Brook’s. I loved how strong and loyal a friend Brook was. I seriously would want her to lead my army too.
I loved seeing other realms than the one realm we saw in book 1! I loved meeting the other queens, and guessing at what their supernatural abilities were. There’s secret passages, murders, and assassination attempts throughout the whole book, including the parts at the summit. And I was never bored, ever. The ending was pretty epic, and I have no idea how I will wait for book 3.
There was one little thing that did get to me though. Did no one really expect anything that whole time? I mean the girl would wake up screaming at someone to get out (to herself…) And she glowed…Did no one really put two and two together and think that the glow was because of the old queen? I mean they all saw her take the oath…I feel like that wasn’t believable and there were just two many smart friends/allies to be that dumb. At least one person should have suspected something.
Overall though, this didn’t annoy me that much. I loved this book. The characters, story, suspense, and world-building were just so wonderful! The bad parts of the romance in book one weren’t in here and I was so grateful. And I’m dying for a third installment already! I give this a 10/10. Kimberly Derting needs to just always keep writing YA books. Seriously, I love all of her things!


  1. haha, sounds like your friends know you well! I sort of skimmed your review because I haven't read book 1 yet, but it is so nice that this sequel turned out so well! I'll have to look into the series.

    1. I have the best friends! This series is a lot of fun! Derting isn't the best writer, but she does seem to have these magical super abilities that always get me so soaked up in her stories! I super recommend these books.