FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
What I liked about the book: The book is beautifully written. Dertling truly exhibits some excellent wordsmithing skills in this story. The plot is well developed and engaging. The pacing is perfect – not too fast, nor too slow. Charlie is a strong female character. She is very mature for a teen, but that’s to be expected in a dystopian novel.
To paraphrase my favorite adult dystopian author Margaret Atwood, “War is what happens when communication fails.” Dertling explores the importance of langue (communication) and its impact on society in a very interesting way. It reminded me how often English speakers are guilty of looking down upon those who do not speak English or speak it poorly.
I enjoyed that there was a little bit of mystery about Charlie. Where did she get her strange ability? (Yes, we do found out before the book ends, but I won’t spoil it for you.) If you like young adult dystopian novels with strong female characters, I strongly recommend you read this book.
What I didn’t like about the book: I seem to be in the minority, but I really didn’t like the cover. It doesn’t do the story justice. I also didn’t like that the book ended. From what I can gather from Dertling’s website, this is a stand-alone book. I would love to read more about the characters in this book.