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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.

Topics: Dystopia, Trilogy, Queen, Journeys, Adventurous, and Rebellion

Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books on Jan 1, 2013
ISBN: 9781442445611
List price: $9.99
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Very confusing of who was who in the beginning. stopped reading in 1 chapter. I loved the first book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In the sequel to The Pledge, we find the newly queened Charlie still struggling with the soul of her predecessor. She can't shake her, dreaming of the old queen's past life. And this is just the smallest of her problems, it seems at first.Citizens are rising against her rule and the changes she is so determined to make. The Queens of all other nations expect her at a summit where she will no nothing of politic and protocol, she is expected to learn things she has no desire to and quell things she has every desire to keep. Her life is not what it was and she must forge a new one for herself with or without the Essence buried inside her.All the aspects that I loved in The Pledge return full force in The Essence. The world is wonderfully fantastical and as the story moved outside of Ludania it became more so. There is a glamor to this part of the story where The Pledge was grittier. I loved the drama of it.There is the introduction of a handful of new characters, many I adored and hope to learn more of in round three. It is so hard to know who can be trusted in this epic tale of murder and betrayal that I constantly found myself debating every word spoken by some of these newcomers.It's one of these newcomers that will bring the presence of the old queen to the forefront of Charlie's problems. What he and Sabara will kindle inside of Charlie is a power and longing that will change everything in her world including her carefully protected and most needed relationships.The twists and turns and action of The Essence I found more enjoyable than in the Pledge, which seemed to move at a slower pace. However, one of the things I adored in the first book was hardly present in this one. Max. Max has a much smaller role and I missed him. But I am a bit of a sap for a good love story. Don't misunderstand, there is still a love story. Two rather, but it isn't Max and Charlies that takes the center stage here. Though I found each of them endearing in their own right, I craved more of what had already developed.For that I say, "kudos, Ms. Derting". For I will anxiously be counting the days for more of these characters!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Very confusing of who was who in the beginning. stopped reading in 1 chapter. I loved the first book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In the sequel to The Pledge, we find the newly queened Charlie still struggling with the soul of her predecessor. She can't shake her, dreaming of the old queen's past life. And this is just the smallest of her problems, it seems at first.Citizens are rising against her rule and the changes she is so determined to make. The Queens of all other nations expect her at a summit where she will no nothing of politic and protocol, she is expected to learn things she has no desire to and quell things she has every desire to keep. Her life is not what it was and she must forge a new one for herself with or without the Essence buried inside her.All the aspects that I loved in The Pledge return full force in The Essence. The world is wonderfully fantastical and as the story moved outside of Ludania it became more so. There is a glamor to this part of the story where The Pledge was grittier. I loved the drama of it.There is the introduction of a handful of new characters, many I adored and hope to learn more of in round three. It is so hard to know who can be trusted in this epic tale of murder and betrayal that I constantly found myself debating every word spoken by some of these newcomers.It's one of these newcomers that will bring the presence of the old queen to the forefront of Charlie's problems. What he and Sabara will kindle inside of Charlie is a power and longing that will change everything in her world including her carefully protected and most needed relationships.The twists and turns and action of The Essence I found more enjoyable than in the Pledge, which seemed to move at a slower pace. However, one of the things I adored in the first book was hardly present in this one. Max. Max has a much smaller role and I missed him. But I am a bit of a sap for a good love story. Don't misunderstand, there is still a love story. Two rather, but it isn't Max and Charlies that takes the center stage here. Though I found each of them endearing in their own right, I craved more of what had already developed.For that I say, "kudos, Ms. Derting". For I will anxiously be counting the days for more of these characters!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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