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The Pledge #2

The Essence

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“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.

341 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Kimberly Derting

38 books5,038 followers
Kimberly is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE, and THE TAKING trilogies. She is also the co-author of the popular "Loves Science" picture book series, featuring our favorite science-loving superstars Cece, Libby, and Vivi!

Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections.

These days, she spends entirely too much time ordering stuff off the Internet and binge-watching Netflix with her husband and kids.

Note: I'm the worst about checking my Goodreads email...I apologize if I never got back to you! If you need to reach me, try the "Ask me a question" option (below), or email me at kim(at)kimberlyderting(dot)com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 587 reviews
Profile Image for Hannah (jellicoereads).
792 reviews152 followers
February 21, 2013
They get on the train. They get off the train. They get on a horse. They get off the horse. They get on the boat. They get off the boat. They arrive at the castle. They leave the castle. They get back on the boat. They get back on the horse. They get back on the train.

Somebody tries to kill her repeatedly, but they're not very good.

Nothing else happens.

Seriously. I really wanted to enjoy this one, since I liked The Pledge, but I just couldn't do it. The romance was lacking, there was too much travelling with no action, and I figured out the traitor straight away. There wasn't much in the way of character development. It definitely suffered from second-book syndrome.

I am disappointed.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
May 26, 2018
The Essence was boring to me. I definitely wanted to just skim through everything because nothing was really holding my attention. Since it's the second book in this series, it definitely fell into the dreaded second book syndrome. I wish it didn't but I didn't really like it.

Charlie, the MC, just rubbed me the wrong way sometimes. Yeah, she wanted to be this strong and independent woman.. but she should've asked for help when she needed it. Her not asking frustrated the heck out of me. I get that she was Queen and everything... but the girl was overwhelmed. Instead of keeping things to herself and trying to prove everyone wrong.. she definitely should've asked for some goddamn help! She also made decisions that I didn't agree with either. Again, the girl frustrated me so much in this book.

Besides Charlie, there were some other characters - but none that really stuck with you. I mean, I liked Max.. I think that was his name. However, if I'm being honest.. all of the characters were meh to me. I feel like there was little to none character development. Then there was the previous queens within Charlie and I was still freaking bored. I didn't care about what was happening in this book or with these characters!

Overall, I kind of wish The Pledge was a standalone.. but since I've read the second book I will just have to suck it up and dive into the last book. I hope it doesn't suck and that the characters are better. I also have zero expectations at this point.
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,727 reviews294 followers
March 27, 2018
Sooo...this book was kinda boring, yeah? I feel like this is going to be one of those series that could have been told in 2 books instead of 3. Nothing really happened here except a whole lot of Charlie being naive and stupid.

Ladies, you can be a strong female and still ask for help when you need it! Strong does not mean ignoring everyone else because "I can do this on my own". No, strength comes in recognizing your weakness and let me tell you, Charlie was not strong.

Following the events of the previous book, Charlie is now Queen. She's overwhelmed, to say the least, and unfortunately has the essence of the previous Queen, Sabara, inside of her. But instead of talking to people about this so that they can come up with some plan, she just decides to deal with it. It's the whole, if I ignore it then it will go away. Well, guess what, it doesn't. And it leads to chaos obviously because the old Queens long lost love makes an appearance and knows Sabara's essence is within Charlie. So of course, he pursues her. And of course, Charlie falls under his spell - forget about the man she loves back at home. She can handle this remember?

There are really no likable characters in this series. I only like Max and Xander because their history makes them interesting. At this point, I hope Sabara takes over Charlie completely because then maybe something would happen.

On to the final book! Yay...?
Profile Image for Najla Madwar.
74 reviews93 followers
March 3, 2013

If you need some kind of proof that having an inexperienced eighteen-year old girl as a QUEEN with yet another eighteen-year old girl as The Commander of The Armed Forces is such a bad BAD idea then read The Essence, it's proof enough.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews153 followers
January 12, 2013
Three Stars: A good middle book, but not much plot advancement.
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.

Favorite Quotations:
"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.
Posted@: Rainy Day Ramblings.
Profile Image for Anjali.
404 reviews72 followers
Want to read
March 21, 2012
The cover is so gorgeous...I can't wait to read The Essence but 2013? such a long wait. I hope they change the date.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
883 reviews252 followers
October 18, 2015
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

This book was very different than the first book! I didn't like this as much as the first book, but this is still a very great read!

Charlie is now Queen of Ludania, after defeating Sabara, but Sabara isn't dead. Sabara is living inside Charlie's mind and Charlie has to fight her for control. Not only is it hard for her to fight Sabara and kept it a secret. Apparently, some of her people are very unhappy with her erasing the class system. A resistance has appeared and they want Charlie dead and they don't care who goes down with her.

The first book in this series had a dystopian feel to it, but this book was more fantasy oriented. Of course, this book takes place in an entirely different world and it has a few magical elements, but the fact that Charlie is Queen now and there's no longer a tyrant rule only brings the fantasy aspect up. What I liked about this book was that Charlie's new status allowed us to see more of her kingdom and the other kingdoms. Also, it slowed realistically that when you erase laws that people have grown up with, there will be anger. Yeah, the laws were extremely controlling and cruel, but these people were used to this life. Not that I agree with their methods at all.

Also, I was fully expecting Sabara to still be alive, but I did like how the battle between them in Charlie's mind was incorporated. It was very interesting. Though, Charlie really upset me. She wouldn't tell anyone this and it was really important! Yeah, I kind of understand where she was coming from, but she should have at least told her friends or Max.

Now, I hate saying this, but there were a lot of things that I bothered me about this book. The plot was a mess for one, I felt like a lot of things were happening at once, but by the end of the book I was really questing what the point of all these ways. There was Sabara, the resistance, assassins, and a bunch of other side plots, but they felt so scattered that I really didn't see the point.

As for romance, there wasn't much. Charlie and Max love each other, obviously, but they are separated for half the book and the other half is focused on the numerous plots. If it weren't for the plots being so scattered, I would probably like that, but it was just okay. There was a random romance side-plot with some of Charlie's friends, though, that I could deal without.

I had issues with this sequel, but it wasn't a bad sequel. It was a bit of a mess of a middle-book with it's scattered plots, but the fantasy elements were interesting and I loved seeing more about this world. I did like this book, though not as much as the first, but I plan on reading the next book.
Profile Image for Danielle (The Blonde Likes Books).
591 reviews331 followers
October 5, 2017
I definitely didn't like this one as much as I liked the first book. This one felt like it didn't need to be it's own book, and that it could have been combined with the final book. Ultimately, that made this one feel a little more dragged out than it needed to be. That said, it did have it's good moments, and I liked it overall.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
April 14, 2013
As anyone who has read my review of The Pledge knows, I was not a big fan. I had absolutely no intention of reading the sequel, but such are the joys of the Sadie Hawkins feature. Blythe wanted me to read this, so here we are. On the plus side, I didn't dislike The Essence the way I did The Pledge, largely due to the decrease in romance, but I still don't think this series is particularly impressive.

One part of The Essence is super cool, and that is Charlie's relationship to the queen she displaced. At the end of The Pledge, Charlie took over from Sabara, but, in so doing, Sabara's essence became part of Charlie. Now, Charlie can here Sabara's voice in her head, and dreams Sabara's memories. In moments of weakness, Sabara can even assume control of Charlie's body for brief periods of time and sway Charlie's emotions.

The interplay between Charlie and Sabara is fascinating, and it's the sort of mindfuckery that I appreciate greatly. Charlie can never be entirely trusted, and her feelings can be hard to separate from Sabara's. I like, too, that Sabara becomes a bit more complex and sympathetic here than she was before, as Charlie dives into her memories. Similarly, Charlie becomes more interesting as Sabara's presence in her mind starts pushing her into a crazy, evil direction. Charlie's character arc reminds me of Anakin slowly sliding into Darth Vader, which is awesome.

What made me dislike The Pledge so was the pathetic, illogical world building (which is still weak) and the romance, which is nauseating. Thankfully, Sabara messes with some of the fairy tale perfection of Charlie's relationship with Max. Even better, they're hardly together during the course of the book. The few romance scenes that do transpire are pretty cheesy and eyeroll-inducing, but are kept to a minimum.

For the most part, though, the awesome mind stuff aside, there's really not a whole lot that happens in this book, other than Charlie being an utterly crap queen. Though I admire Charlie's goal of removing the punishing social hierarchy, she does so in a really stupid way: all at once. Nor does she have the infrastructure prepared to deal with backlash. Surprise, things don't go well. She spends the whole book ineffectually running from an assassin and trying to avoid having to go to her queen lessons. Despite skipping her lessons and remembering the few she attended, she is praised by everyone, except the ones who want to kill her, for her marvelous queenship. She's just speshul that way.

The perspective largely follows Charlie in first person, but does switch to a couple of other characters in third person limited. I'm rarely a fan of this technique, and this is no exception. The reason she's done this is because Brooklynn, Charlie's friend and the head of her guard, split up for much of the novel. Still, I find some of the perspective-hopping entirely needless. For example, there was one scene from the perspective of the mole in the guard, intended to add tension, but that could have been conveyed just as effectively by someone finding the body. I'm a firm believer in not hopping into a perspective just once, and, if she needed both Brooklyn's and Charlie's, going with first person on both would seem a wiser choice.

All told, I wouldn't say this was a terrible book, but I still really can't personally recommend this series, because there's so much better out there to be read. A resounding meh to The Essence.
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,942 reviews71 followers
December 13, 2018
an advance copy of this book was provided by Simon and Schuster through Goodreads


I vaguely remember reading the first book The Pledge. I looked back on what I said about it and my memory was jogged about how I didn't love it or hate it. I liked it enough to read the second one. I wish I didn't. I found myself screaming at this book all day. It's a shame that I had to bring in the new year reading this, it was exhausting.

The first book ended with Charlie defeating the evil queen Sabara and taking the throne. This book starts with a prologue about a queen plotting Charlie's death. Then you're reunited with all the oldies but goodies. Charlie is dealing with a dark secret while Brooklyn, Charlie's best friend, is dealing with her traitorous father who wants the old caste system back. And that's the only two things that are interesting. Charlie's secret is that Sabara's essence is still alive inside Charlie .

I can't remember if that was hinted at in the end of the first book but this particular conflict for the heroine is what made me dislike this book. It's not Sabara that I have a problem with, it's Charlie. She is so fucking annoying. All of the decisions she makes about her secret are stupid. They only make more bullshit for her to deal with and it was unnecessary. Most of the issues Charlie and everyone around her deal with are Charlie's fault. What good has ever come from keeping a secret in a young adult book? Nothing, that's what. I just can't stand that Charlie lets herself be victimized BY HERSELF.

And because I couldn't stand this book enough, a weird love triangle is thrown into the story. Yay!!! That's exactly what I didn't need. It was random and poorly put together. I didn't understand why Charlie needed another love interest. She has enough problems with someone trying to kill her and the uprising that's happening inside her kingdom. That would have been enough to keep me reading. I didn't need this teenage melodramatic bullshit.

To end the review, I just want to say that I will be reading the third book. I'm two books in. I might as well finish the series. Here's hoping the Charlie dies in the next book!
Profile Image for Jacqueline's Reads.
2,771 reviews1,472 followers
January 10, 2013
2 Stars

One word to describe The Essence would be BORING or maybe ANNOYING. Book 2 picks up where book 1, The Pledge left off. Note, if you haven’t read book 1, I would suggest NOT reading this review. I remember liking The Pledge until the ending. When I found out Sabara was stuck in Carlaina (Charlie) in The Pledge I was 100% grossed out, regardless I still liked the characters and decided to continue with book 2, The Essence.

I don’t even know if there is a summary to The Essence, I would just say it’s about Charlie being tormented by Sabara. If all 3 books were out, I would suggest skipping book2 and just go to book 3, in all honestly The Essence was unnecessary and completely a “filler” book. I am shocked by the positive reviews.

I love the Max and Charlie story line, why was there only a few handful of pages of the relationship written? I don’t know. I don’t need the book to be completely relationship related, but the other side plots needed to be more interesting and I felt like nothing really happened.

I can’t get past the fact Sabara is related to Max, how could Charlie kiss Max? This isn’t like “The Host”, where the characters aren’t related, I can’t explain my uneasiness, I mean, towards the end the whole grandmother thing was kind of explained and seemed less creepy, but I still can’t get past it. I need to, but I can’t.

As for side characters, I would say all of them were… meh.
I am debating if I should move to book 3, considering I was mildly satisfied with the ending of The Essense. I think my over all issues were mainly driven by the main plot, Sabara being stuck in Charlie.

I didn’t think the whole book was going to be about Sabara being stuck in Charlie, I thought it was going to be a minor challenge that the characters would work towards fixing, but I was wrong and very upset. There were so many times I wanted to throw the book at the wall because I was just so annoyed with Charlie, I wanted to shake her, I wanted to punch her in the face, I wanted her to fix her problem instead of being in stupid denial.

I don’t like single layer books. This book had a fairly simple problem and it wasn’t enough to be the main focus for the entire book. I wanted more Max and Charlie involvement, I just simply wanted more.

I do not recommend.
319 reviews1,885 followers
January 9, 2013
Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Pledge

And the streak of sequels that outshine their predecessors continues!

This time the streak is continued with, obviously, The Essence, sequel to The Pledge which, while I enjoyed overall, left me with mixed feelings. However, despite The Pledge leaving me with mixed feelings, I went into The Essence with high expectations after the conclusion of The Pledge, and I am thrilled to say that most if not all of those high expectations were met by the time I turned the last page of The Essence.

The Essence takes place shortly after the explosive conclusion of The Pledge; Charlaina is now the reigning queen of Ludania after defeating - sort of... - the previous and notoriously harsh queen Sabara. However, Sabara's Essence is now trapped inside of Charlaina, setting her skin aglow, and, more importantly, letting Sabara have access - and manipulate - Charlaina's thoughts and actions. As a new queen, Charlaina travels to a gathering to meet with the queens of nearby queendoms, but soon enough things begin to go awry as body counts start piling up, and she soon finds herself consulting to the very person she wants to consult least - Sabara - for help.

The Essence is stronger than The Pledge in almost every way imaginable; the plot is much more fascinating, fast paced, and bears higher stakes, the characters are met with more character development and are more likable - even Sabara! - and the romance is no where near as large of an element in The Essence as it was in The Pledge.

One of the things I appreciated most about The Essence was that, while Charlaina is now the new queen of Ludania, she still managed to remember where she came from, and remember the people who helped her get where she is, and was able to keep the same relationships now as a queen as she had before she was a queen. Because of this, among other things, I found Charlaina to be much more of a likable and multi-layered character in this installment than she was in The Pledge, and I also absolutely loved how Derting added such character development and background to the character of Sabara, making her, like I had mentioned before, almost - if not entirely - likable.

Derting's writing in The Essence is, as always, completely and utterly breathtaking, and her descriptions are so stunningly detailed and gorgeous that I can't help but be jealous of her writing skill and her ability to truly paint a picture inside a reader's head, exhibit A:

Stark and harsh, a daunting fortress of towers and turrets and spires, all dusted in ice and rising above a thick layer of frozen fog that made it appear as if it was the only thing that existed on the entire snowbound isle. As if the palace itself were crafted from the great glacier that rose from the water.

And while I found there to be quite a few pacing issues, most notably towards the second half, but also in scattered portions throughout the first and second halves, I think that might just be the only negative thing I have to say about The Essence, though that one negative played a pretty significant part in my enjoyment in the story, and is the most prominent reason it took me so long to finish it.

However, with the pacing issues aside, I found The Essence to be a worthy sequel to The Pledge, outshining it in execution tremendously. Ending in another explosive ending that is entirely satisfying yet leaves the reader wanting more, I thoroughly look forward to reading the final book in The Pledge trilogy, and who knows, maybe it'll be even better than this.
122 reviews
January 14, 2013
Picking up a few months after The Pledge, we find that Charlie - I mean, Queen Charlaina - has settled in quite nicely into her new life, her transition from Charlie, the Vendor's daughter to Queen Charlaina going smoothly except for a few tiny bumps. But, is the road to a happy kingdom smooth? Or does a certain Queen and her past catch up with Charlie?

Starting, for a change, with the negatives.....Charlie had yet to become Queen Charlaina de Heyse. I've seen zero character development throughout this entire book. Also, her little 'relationship' with Max never really had any juice to begin with, so the romance was a huge bust too. Honestly, I didnt feel like much actually happened in this book that I didnt see coming after I red the first 4 chapters of The Pledge. By the end of the book, all I was thinking was, 'There has to be a mistake. There are only 2 chapters left....why isn't she doing anything??'

Anyway....onto the only thing that stopped me from screaming out loud at the book : Brooklyn. She never really made any impression on me in the last book (because we never got to know her...hmph) but she impressed me a lot in this book. I loved her POVs! She was in a hard place, but she was courageous and smart - she stood her ground when she needed to. But, there was that sweet and girly side to her too! Okay, okay....I know I'm way past rambling at this point, but she was exactly like how I wanted Charlie to be!

Bottom line is, nothing major really happens and Charlie didn't really prove to be anything other than a girl who was the Queen because she had Royal blood flowing through her veins. It felt like the unedited first draft.....there was a lot of details in there that she could have done without and a lot more relevant details that she could have added. I'm afraid to say Ms. Derting has fallen prey to the Second-Book aka Filler-Book Syndrome. Oh, but the cover is SUPER PRETTY!

Just my opinion....peace!

Profile Image for Avy ❄️.
300 reviews64 followers
July 28, 2016
All right. Again, just like The Pledge, The Essence started off slow and a little frustrating. It took me a while to finish this one, but I did keep going (albeit slowly) because I really did want to see how it ended.

Charlie really pissed me off a few times, to be honest, and I felt like screaming at her too many times to count throughout this book. I mean, all she kept doing was digging a bigger hole for herself every few chapters.

The ending may have made me scream like a banshee, read chapter 19 and you'll know what I mean, but it also did leave me running and tripping up the stairs to get the next book. So that's always a plus. All in all, not great, but good enough.

Max is still the real MVP

Profile Image for Charlie.
798 reviews149 followers
July 25, 2015
I really enjoyed this. I'm not compleetly obsessed but it was a ncie fun read. The last 25% was actually pretty great.

Is it wrong that I'm liking Sabara more and more? I know she's the villain here but I just really like her. She's very determined and more than a little crazy. I Kinda like her more than Charlie.

I enjoyed book 1 more than this book but I'll probably still finish the series as it was an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Kari.
33 reviews14 followers
Want to read
January 23, 2012
I can't believe I have to wait a year for this book!!! If Charlie and Max aren't together when it's all over I'll be very disappointed.
Profile Image for Nicole.
85 reviews27 followers
Want to read
March 11, 2012
I'm not sure whether I actually want to READ this or not, since I thought The Pledge would've been amazing as a standalone novel. Oh well, I dunno. I'll probably give it a shot anyway.
Profile Image for Ashley.
961 reviews
April 16, 2016
Wamp wamp.

The first book was okay, I'm in the middle of the third one and it is so far also okay. This one...skip it. You won't miss much. Find some spoilers. Or don't.

I hate books where teenagers are all of a sudden in power. Not even going to try some sort of regency? Maybe not let her change things she's clueless about for a bit? Charlie is never queenly or smart, she's basically a pouty idiot the whole book. And who makes their BFF the head of the army with zero experience? Brooklyn worked with the resistance for a while. Big deal. They weren't doing military drills or whatever. Pretty obvious that is a mistake when Brooklyn doesn't even know how to make a search party to find Charlie.

Charlie's parents- first off, does her mother ever speak? In the last book she's the one who did the baking and smelled like bread. Now all of a sudden it's the father? Why exactly? I know that only queens are supposed to rule, but her father is in line for the throne, maybe he needs to be helping his daughter instead of making everybody eat more bread?

If you're looking for Max, he's not here. At the end of the first book they're sharing a bed. Now, they barely share a scene. But don't worry, there's a love triangle.

Why is the author so obsessed with Eden's moods? Every time we here how Eden's moods affect a room. okaaay. Is that a power or something? What's the point except that it seems she'd make a pretty terrible body guard since you could always 'feel' her.

Sydney-Knew Sydney was doomed as soon as Charlie says they hadn't seen each other since the takeover but they were acting like long lost pals. They spent like a day trying not to die together. Haven't tried to see each other since, but they're so close!! Seems like a strange move politically as well. Wouldn't having friends from each of the classes be a wise political move? Which is why she is dead. And come on, Charlie keeps the picture of herself looking dazed sitting by Sydney's body because it's the only picture she has of the two of them? Well that's...different.

In the end we realize that Sebastian is the traitor. No way! You mean pretty much the only new character in the castle? And seriously, how stupid was he for using the flag of the queen he served as a bandanna. That's both the epitome of stupid, and disrespectful of the flag. Really, now that I think about it, he really didn't do too much bad. He killed a guard I guess. That's pretty much all.

The journey they obviously had to take, because it's a second book and all, was lame. They're supposed to be going to this grand summit to talk about queenly things...eight weirdo's had a ball. And if they were all so strange, why did Charlie have to learn anything at all. None of them seemed inclined to follow any rules of etiquette. And really, shouldn't Sabara remember it all? The attempt to introduce a gay character is also pretty lame. Ohh, that queen is wearing a bedazzled pantsuit! Scandalous.

Brooklyn- She was a terrible friend in the last book. A point Charlie finally realized. We're told Aron specifically ignored her because he could see through her. Little bit of revisionist history happening now. Now he's always there for her and they like each other? Brooklyn as a commander is ridiculous. She's more concerned with whatever Aron is doing and even drinks on the job. And speaking of...Aron withstood torture for Charlie but he has no official title? He did a lot more than Brooklyn ever did.

Floss- redneck risks his life to save his queen, but is apparently too calloused to name a young girl that's lived with his family for years?

And in the end, everyone is mad at Charlie. And for what? She finally did something. Four men were trying to kill her baby sister. As she took them down one at a time the next would reach for her sister. But how dare she kill them? What was she supposed to do? Maybe instead of Brooklyn being mad that her father was killed she should be grateful that with a traitor for a father she still has a job at court and be glad to be rid of the man who tried to kill a four year old.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Marie.
504 reviews391 followers
December 15, 2013
Before I read this I re-read The Pledge and honestly? I didn't like it as much as I remembered. The books are quite short, but the cliffhanger in the first book was good enough to get me to buy this one and to carry on with the series.
I did like this one. I mean there was a little more going on and kept you interested but I didn't get the rush of excitement or that connection with the book. I don't overly love the characters. I have had a complete turn around with this book as I remembered loving The Pledge last year, I gave it five stars, but re-reading it and reading this this year I liked it, but not loved it. My favourite books list is now quite competitive to get on. With series disappointing me on the last book, some favourites being pushed down to 'liked' as better books pushing my expectations and standards up. My favorite book list is now a coveted place for books.

I did like this sequel though, it's been interesting and I will read the next. I just won't be going out of my way to, when I stumble across it and haven't got an interesting book at the ready I will make time for it.

In this book we find out what it means and what implications it has for Charlie that Sabara's essence is still in there deep within her. Is the old Queen all she was made out to be? A cold, heartless, monster or was there a reason that drove her to pass her essence on and on essentially killing her daughters/granddaughters. And if there is does that reason justify her for these killings?
Charlie begins to make changes to the queendom, changes that lead to a new system and a new way of life for all of the kingdoms residents, changes that don't appeal to everyone especially the higher class and those changes lead to a revolt, a revolt surprisingly led by someone to close for comfort and it puts her in danger. I think the question I had burning in me from The Pledge was.. When do Max and everyone else find out about Sabara? And her still being 'alive' within Charlie. Is it just a matter of time before she takes over, will Charlie be stong enough to expel her or will she try and influence Angelina to say those few magic words.
Profile Image for Anna Marie.
1,103 reviews2 followers
January 13, 2014
You know it's bad when you get halfway thru and find yourself asking, "Can't we be done, like, now?"

In this second book in the 'The Pledge' series, Charlie is now queen. But she's not queen by herself - the queen who tried to take over her body is *IN* her body, with her. So the entire book is Charlie whining by day about how lousy she is at queening and how TIRED and BORED she is, and by night she has internal arguments with the ex-queen inside of her. As the ex-queen gets stronger and stronger and is trying to take over Charlie's body. Like what I imagine Stephanie Meyer's "The Host" is like (although I've never read that one). Which would make it another steal, wouldn't it??

And the thing that's been bothering me... and it bothered me a little in the first book, too... is that Charlie supposedly has this WONDERFUL relationship with her parents that involves trust and love, right? But she NEVER trusts anyone. She doesn't tell anyone anything. She didn't tell her parents when she understood a language she'd never heard before. She didn't tell her parents when Max figured out about her abilities. She didn't tell her parents about Xander and the revolution.

And in this book, she doesn't tell Max about the ex-Queen inside of her. She doesn't tell Xander or her parents or even Zafir. With all that's going on, the ONE THING you'd think she'd want to do is have it out in the open, right away. But for someone with so many loving, trusting people in her life, she doesn't confide in or trust ANY of them.

More, she's a whiny, talentless, pathetic, unfocused, bitchy wreck. There's just NOTHING admirable about Charlie. Why anyone would want her for queen, I don't know. She's just not a great character. She's off in la-la land so much that there's little point to having her in her OWN story. What a lousy heroine. At this point? I'm not even BOTHERING with book three. Here's to hoping the ex-queen offs this loser and puts us ALL out of our misery.
Profile Image for Sarah.
217 reviews52 followers
January 8, 2015
The Good

Sabara.  I love the internal struggle Charlie has with Sabara. Sabara's past is wildly interesting, but I wish there was more focus on her. I am hoping the final book will give more insight into the evil queen's past.
The terrorists.  Equality seems all well and good to most people, but every time huge changes happen in a government you are going to have at least a small group of people who don't want change and like things the way they are. The presence of terrorists in the book fighting against what most people would consider wonderful, moral changes being made to a corrupt, oppressive government made the book feel more realistic. I wish there had been more from the terrorist point of view, however. I think that would have been really interesting.
The queens.  I just loved all the quirky queens and empresses Charlie meets at the summit. I hope we see more of them, hopefully even their countries, in the final book.

The Bad

The pace.  The book started and ended well, but the middle felt like it took forever.
Max.  I know Charlie and Max are supposed to be cute and in love, but am I the only person who finds it weird that he kisses a girl who is carrying his grandmother's soul inside her? Way too creepy.

Overall Rating

3.5 - This book was about a thousand times better than its predecessor, mostly because it was a lot more interesting and significantly less confusing. There are still some pace issues in the middle of the story, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. I hope the last book contains more appearances from the various other queens and empresses and more about Sabara, though!

Profile Image for ajia.
223 reviews37 followers
January 20, 2013
The sequel was okay. It didnt pull me in right away and i was a bit confused about what was going on for the first part as i had forgotten the events of the last book, so it took me a while to get into it.

Charlie is now queen but has the spirit of the old queen imprisoned in her body. The is quite a hard situation for her and i felt sorry for her. She seemed more or less the same to me in this book as the last one with no particular character development.

Max unfortunately who i did really like before was hardly in this book and i felt his absence throughout the entire book. This also meant that the romance was non-existent which is another thing that annoyed me.

The plot was good, mostly revolving around Charlie coping with becoming queen and the enemies out to get her. There is more action is this one than the last one which you'll enjoy.

There is a new character called Niko who i had mixed feelings about. He may or may not be a love interest in the next book and i really hope he isnt. Zafir, Aron, Brook are all back and all have massive roles in the book.

There is sort of a cliffhanger but nothing too massive. Overall, it was a good book but not as interesting as i wanted it to be.

Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
April 7, 2016
Liked this but not as much as the first book, The Pledge. There was still that air of mystery that I enjoyed and the pacing is still on point, but I felt it was still disjointed. There was a bit more of the previous queen's back story which I enjoyed but I still didn't understand why she really wanted to stay. Was it truly for her love or was it for more for a selfish reason?

I found both Charlie and Sabarra's thoughts to be jarring and misplaced. Especially at the end.. Charlie changing or was that always inside her all along? Also not enough Max! It was weird to have Niko come in and poor Charlie being caught in the middle.

I liked that we get to see more of the world, but I'm still confused when they include guns into the story because I always saw this world to be more like a renaissance era instead of a futuristic one. I know they're behind the times but having the other kingdoms with electricity would help.

I wanted to see more of Brooklyn and Aron.. So cute!

Overall, I liked it but I really felt like this book was a filler book. It sets up the story nicely for the third and last book which I'm lucky to have so I get to read it next!
April 28, 2015
This took me a while to read. And while I enjoyed it, I guess, it took me a while to read therefore it didn't feel as good as it could have been. Again, the world building could have been done much better. Also, there was not enough Max in there at all, and too much Niko. Though considering Niko and Sabara's relationship it makes sense. Overall, the plot was interesting. While I liked Charlie, there were moments were I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
I totally wanted more Max and Charlie action. Or at least more 'stuffing' in Charlie. She seemed a little weak in this book. Actually she might have been a little weak in the other one too, but still I did like this. Though whether it's super fantastic, I'm going to put my opinion on hold until I read the last sequel!
Profile Image for Brittany.
44 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2022
As much as I like the general idea of the world/world building, this one ABSOLUTELY suffered from second-book-syndrome. Looking at other reviews, it’s clear I’m not alone in this takeaway. There’s a lot of traveling where not much happens, most characters are very one-note and shallow, the queen summit is a simple ball and not much else, and the ‘traitor in their midst’ is projected loudly since the beginning so even the twist is very nothing-burger. I have the third book, so I’ll finish the trilogy, but so far this second book was a struggle to make it through after the cool story and potential the first one had.
Profile Image for Hylary Locsin.
166 reviews7 followers
March 7, 2013
Originally posted on my blog: http://libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com ! Check it out for more reviews!

Now that she is settling into her newfound role as the queen of Ludania, Charlie is struggling to cope with unrest in her troubled kingdom. The caste system that used to strictly divide the country by language has been abolished, and Charlie, Max and Brooklynn are trying to ensure that the transition to equality goes smoothly. Unfortunately, not everyone in Ludania is thrilled about what Charlie has done. Threats against the queen are uncovered on a daily basis, making Charlie fear for the safety of her family, especially her younger sister, Angelina. Charlie’s biggest threat, however, is not something outside the castle walls, but lives deep inside of her: the essence of the evil queen Sabara, the one Charlie supposedly killed to become queen, is trapped in Charlie and wants nothing more than to get out. The longer Sabara’s spirit lives within Charlie, the more their thoughts and memories become linked, and Charlie soon realizes that there is much she didn’t know about the former queen of Ludania. What do the dreams of Sabara’s previous lives mean? Why does Charlie find herself drawn to a mysterious strange, Niko Bartolo, from a neighboring kingdom? Can Charlie keep the presence of Sabara’s essence within her a secret from the people she loves?

Following the popular first installment in The Pledge trilogy, veteran author Kimberly Derting continues her latest series with The Essence. Beginning shortly after the events of the previous novel, Charlie, the vendor’s daughter turned queen of the kingdom of Ludania, finds herself in a series of increasingly dangerous situations. Her people aren’t as crazy about her as she’d hoped they be, it seems like someone is trying very hard to kill her, she’s not that into being treated like royalty, and the spirit of the evil queen Sabara, who also happens to be her boyfriend’s grandmother, is living inside of her. A lot of Charlie’s spunk that was present in the first novel is absent in the wake of all of these challenges, turning her from a likable leading lady to a bit of a whiner. Things go from bad to worse when Charlie is sent to a summit where the queens of neighboring kingdoms meet to discuss official business and try to out shine one another. Charlie doesn’t know the etiquette that the other queens have had years to learn, plus her trip is especially rocky considering that someone really wants her dead. Much of what was enjoyable about the first novel, the dystopian nature of Ludania, the caste system, Charlie’s budding romance with Max, is completely absent in the sequel. While The Essence isn’t necessarily a poorly written or “bad” story, it’s drastically different from its predecessor, making it unclear if fans of The Pledge will like it. For readers who don’t mind the story veering off from a mix of adventure and dystopia into full on fantasy territory, The Essence will prove to be an entertaining read. For those who aren’t into battles, commanders, armies, and dead queens, however, the likelihood of enjoying the novel enough to pick up the third and final installment is slim.

I seem to keep being disappointed by sequels to novels that I really loved and, unfortunately, The Essence is yet another sophomore slump for me. The Pledge was a really interesting and entertaining story, with the language-based caste system, Charlie uncovering her role as heir to the throne of Ludania and her relationship with Max. In The Essence, Charlie is now a bit of a brat, whining constantly about all of the issues she has to deal with as queen. The plot is also slow and never seems to pick up a lot of speed at any point in the novel. I hope that the author can turn the series around with an excellent third novel, but I’m sorry to say that my hopes aren’t very high.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,336 reviews1,017 followers
May 7, 2013
I really enjoyed the first book in Kimberly Derting's dystopian fantasy series and I've been looking forward to reading The Essence for a year now. I have to admit that it's been so long since I've read The Pledge that I was a little hazy on the finer details of what happened in the story, I knew I'd enjoyed it and I remembered the main plot but I had trouble remembering who all of the minor characters were and was a little worried that was going to reduce my enjoyment of the next book. That is one of the hazards I'm finding now that I'm reading so many different series and having to wait a whole year between each instalment, especially since I, unfortunately, no longer have time to reread series before I start the latest book. Thankfully in this case Kimberly Derting did a great job of jogging my memory about the important things and within a few chapters I was fully sucked back into the world she has created.

Charlie is now the new queen of Ludania (after winning against Sabara at the end of the last book), she has been ruling for several months and is determined to bring about equality for all of her citizens. Where people were previously separated by a class system and not even allowed to speak the same language she has decreed that everyone must speak the common language and people will be allowed to do whatever jobs they would like. While this has gone down well with the people from the lower classes it hasn't been a popular move with those who think they are above the rest of the citizens. There has been a lot of resistance and the protests are becoming more and more troublesome. Charlie isn't only faced with trying to keep the peace within her realm though, she must also face meeting the rulers of the other kingdoms and see if she can gain important allies for herself and her people. It quickly becomes clear that someone is working against her but it is hard to know where to turn or who she can trust. As if that wasn't enough to deal with Charlie is also fighting an internal battle, Sabara wasn't completely destroyed and a part of her is buried within Charlie, fighting to take control.

You have to admire Charlie for the changes that she is trying to make within her country, she wants all of her people to have the same opportunities and she is determined for make that happen. This makes her incredibly popular with half of the citizens but resented by the rest. A change that big isn't going to happen overnight and she has many enemies who want to make sure she doesn't succeed. I enjoyed seeing how she interacts with the people around her and how she struggles with people treating her as the queen. She is used to being a normal girl and hates having people bow down to her but it is something she knows she will have to get used to. It was also interesting to see how she reacted to the rulers of the other realms, she seems to have made some interesting allies but you have to wonder how much of what people are saying to her is really the truth and how much is them just keeping her onside while they work out how they can use her.

One thing I did find a little disappointing was the fact that we don't see that much of Max in this instalment. I understood why that was the case but I missed the budding romance between him and Charlie because I love them as a couple. I was a bit worried that we might be seeing the beginnings of a love triangle with a new character who is introduced but it didn't go as far as I feared it would and I have high hopes for more of Max and Charlie in the last book of the trilogy. The Essence is a great story and a book that fans of The Pledge are sure to love. I'm now going to spend the next year looking forward to the final instalment!
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