Today, I finally have my stop for Kimberly Derting's The Essence. The Pledge was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog. You can see my review here. I was excited to continue you this series. I have a review and giveaway for you as part of the tour. Here is the info on Kimberly Derting:
Kimberly is the author of the BODY FINDER series (HarperCollins) and THE PLEDGE trilogy (Simon & Schuster). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the ideal place to write anything dark or creepy…a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. She lives with her husband and their three beautiful (and often mouthy) children who provide an endless source of inspiration. To learn more about Kimberly and her books you can find her:
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The Essence (The Pledge #2) by Kimberly Derting
“Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.
Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.
As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within. Hardcover, 352 pages Published January 1st 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry
Charlie is struggling to come to terms with her new duties as Queen of Ludania. She tires of everyone, even her best friends, referring to her as "Your Majesty". She longs sometimes for the return to the simplicity of her old life. Yet, she has risen to the occasion and taken a firm hold on the throne. With her rein, she intends to bring peace, prosperity and equality to her kingdom. No longer are the citizens divided by class and language. Charlie abolishes the servile language and establishes equal rights for all citizens. But there are always those who oppose change, and an underground movement led by Brook's father aims to remove Charlaina from the throne even if it means murder. These obstacles aren't Charlaina's biggest concerns, though, she hides the fact that deep inside her resides the essence of the former tyrant ruler, Sabara. Sabara's life force has taken root in Charlie, and Sabara wrestles with Charlie for control of her body. A summit is called for all the Queens and Charlie must attend. Terrified, she heads out to the nearby Queendom, only to learn that there is an unknown traitor in her trusted circle trying to betray and kill her. Can Charlie escape with her life and remain in control of her own body?
What I Liked:
- The Essence picks up right where The Pledge left off, and I liked being able to plunge right back into the story. I was pleased to see how Charlie has grown, and how she fights to bring prosperity and equality to her kingdom despite the protests of those who want things to remain the same. Charlie is proving to be a capable ruler, but what I liked most was the fact that she wasn't letting power go to her head. She remains the sweet young girl we got to know in The Pledge. I really liked that she wanted to just be a normal girl and for people, especially those who have know her throughout her life, to treat her the same. She doesn't put on a bunch of airs, and she refrains from power trips. I admired that she really wanted to make things better for all the citizens of her kingdom, even those criminals outcast to the furthest regions. She has a good heart. I also appreciated how terrified she was to face the other queens. I can only imagine the fear and trepidation one would feel when suddenly thrust into a room full of heady, powerful women! Charlaina is certainly an admirable character.
- The inclusion of Sabara's essence inside Charlie is definitely something different. I liked getting to know the evil Queen Sabara a bit better, and seeing a little in her past. It is an interesting situation to say the least. At times, Sabara appears to be conniving and bent on evil, but there are other times where she seems to be helping Charlie. Whether she is out to completely destroy Charlie or help her is still a mystery. I am most curious to see how this story line plays out.
- I love the fact that this dystopian series features a society that is ruled and controlled completely by women. It is nice to see women in power and control for once. I especially enjoyed getting to know Brooklyn better. She is a fierce warrior, incredibly sexy and never backs down from a challenge.
- I liked that this book shows how even when someone is fighting for change and is trying to bring about equality and make everything better for the people, there are always those in opposition who hate and fear change. People who will vehemently fight it and do what they can to destroy prosperity and equal rights. This story line mirrors many of the great struggles we have seen in our own society. I am excited to see how Charlie fares as she fights to do the right thing for her kingdom.
And The Not So Much:
- As much as I hate to say this, The Essence feels like a book that suffers a bit from the middle book syndrome. While it isn't exactly boring, there isn't a lot that happens. The story moves at a rather slow pace. The majority of the book focuses on Charlie attending the summit and avoiding assassination attempts. The story line regarding her battling Sabara's essence is intriguing, but overall not a lot happens in this one. The ending leaves Ludania on the brink of war after learning traitors from an opposing kingdoms are in their midst. The third book is poised to be full of action and excitement. Again, this isn't a bad book by any means, but it isn't thrilling either. Just a good read.
- I didn't like the fact that Max for the most part is absent from this story. He is left behind to take care of the kingdom. Thus, there is little romance in this installment. I missed the dynamic and interaction between the two. When they are together it is wonderful, but their time together is limited.
- I liked that we get some additional view points, but I did not like that the majority of the book is told from Charlie's view and it is in first person narration, and when the voice shifts to another character, like Brooklyn, the narration moves to third person. I found the shifts back and forth from first to third jarring and distracting. I personally would have preferred the narration to all be in first person.
- The ending of this one isn't a cliffhanger, but nothing is resolved. All the questions and issues, aside from ferreting out who the traitor was, remain open. Again, this felt like a middle book that moves the story line slightly forward but there are no major developments.
The Essence is a book I find hard to rate. It was a good read for me, but it didn't blow me away. I like many aspects of this series, and I especially enjoyed marking Charlie's growth in this installment. While the story kept me entertained, it wasn't full of jaw dropping twists or surprises. If you enjoyed The Pledge, you will be interested to see how Charlie has changed and how she is dealing with the essence of Sabara. This book sets up an exciting story line for the third and final book. I would certainly recommend this series, but keep in mind that this one leaves many unanswered questions, so you may want to read it closer to the release of the final book.
"It still astounded me that anyone would want to go back to the old ways. To curfews and segregation and being told where, when, and what they could speak. To live in fear of being sent to the gallows for miscalculating a simple glance.”
“I leaned against him, so I could listen to his heart—my own lullaby, one I didn’t need to decipher.”
A big thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy I received in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
You can enter to win a copy of The Essence by Kimberly Derting. Fill out the Rafflecopter below. Good Luck! (Note this giveaway is not hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings.) Thank you to Shane@Itching for Books for hosting the tour!a Rafflecopter giveaway