Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: The Essence by Kimberly Derting

The Essence

Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Pledge #2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopia
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Source: Mid-Columbia Libraries
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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

My Review:

This book picks up right where The Pledge left off. Charlie has just taken over Sabara’s throne and is learning all the nuances a Queen must know. It’s a lot for Charlie to take in and she whines a lot. Although at times it could be annoying, I felt like it stayed true to the fact that Charlie is only a teenage girl. It’s a huge adjustment for someone her age to make and I liked that Kimberly Derting didn’t make it easy for her.

In this book, Charlie is very focused on her people. She really wants to ensure that she is improving their lives. Unfortunately that is easier said than done. While some people love the changes she has implemented, including removing the caste system, others don’t agree. Rebellion is an ever-present threat and demonstrations and protests are rising up throughout Ludania. I think it was a huge change that happened too fast for the people and they weren’t quite ready for it.

In addition to this, Charlie has been invited to a Summit to meet the Queens of the surrounding Queendoms. While on her way to the Summit, she learns that someone is trying to assassinate her. So Charlie is dealing with strife at home, an assassination attempt, and oh yeah, let’s not forget to mention that Sabara’s Essence lives within her clawing to gain control of her body. No big deal. Even with all that, I think the Charlie is dealing with it pretty well, considering. I wanted her to tell somebody about Sabara the entire book. Why do main characters always think they can handle it themselves???

While at the Summit, Charlie is inexorably drawn to Niko Bartolo, a man she knows nothing about. So why does her heart rate quicken when he’s around? Why does her skin light up beneath his touch? I hated Niko, but also felt bad for him. That’s all I can say without giving away any spoilers.

My favorite character in this book was Zafir. It was so unexpected, but I adored him. In the first book, he was one of Max’s guards. In this book, he has become Charlie’s personal body guard. He is fiercely protective of Charlie and is constantly berating her for putting herself in danger. He is full of sarcasm and had me cracking me up the entire novel with lines like this one:

“Do you constantly have to test me, Your Majesty?” –Zafir

Brooklyn changed a lot in this book and I didn’t think it was for good. She is no longer the fun, flirty friend. Instead she is a Commander in the Queen’s army. Strong, fierce, and serious. Occasionally we would see a flicker of her past come through, but for the most part, she felt like a completely different character. She was conflicted about many things including her father and her love life.

A new character, Avonlea, was introduced in this book. She is a girl that Charlie befriends on the way to the Summit. Charlie likes her so much that she asks her to join their party. I liked the girl, but I didn’t think she served a purpose to the story. I hope her character plays a bigger role in the third book because right now, I think she was unnecessary.

Max is absent during most of this book. He stays in Ludania to rule in Charlie’s place while she attends the Summit. I missed the romance between him and Charlie, one of my favorite things about the first book. Once they are back together, it’s wonderful again, but there is a slight complication with Niko.

The other person who is absent is Angelina, Charlie’s younger sister. She is taken with her parents to another estate to protect her while the rebellions are raging in Ludania. Angelina turns her back on Charlie when she discovers that Sabara lives within her. This didn’t sit well with me. They were so close in the first book and I found it hard to believe that Angelina would just completely turn on her sister over something she had no control over.

The plot of this book accelerated at a breakneck pace. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t even stop to send status updates to Goodreads. I think I sent three during the whole book. Not because there wasn’t something interesting to comment on, but because it was so good I couldn’t stop reading. This book has nonstop action, constant plot twists, and lots of new characters to size up including all the Queens. I liked The Pledge just a tiny bit better than this one because it had more romance in it, but this one was a great follow-up. No second-book syndrome here, people. I can’t wait for the third one, The Offering, to come out. Which isn’t happening until January 7, 2014. Why? *cries* Happy reading all!  


  1. Definitely no middle book syndrome here, but I did miss Max. And yeah, I agree with you, Charlie just needed to tell someone about Sabara. Great review! I cannot wait for the next book. ~Pam

    1. I hate that we always have to wait like a year for the next book to come out. Grr... authors need to write faster!!!!


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