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Friday, April 12, 2013

The Essence by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Essence
Author: Kimberly Derting
ISBN: 9781442445598
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released: January 1, 2013
Series: The Pledge #2
Page #: 341
Source: My public library

"Though it has been months since Charlaina - Charlie - defeated the tyrant Sabara and took control of the Ludanian crown, Sabara has not disappeared. The evil queen's Essence has fused itself to Charlie's psyche, ever present right below the surface, ready to take control at the first sign of weakness.

Balancing her new duties as Queen and battling both Sabara's voice and a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system are pushing Charlie to the brink. She wants to be the same old Charlie she has ever been, the one who Max loves, the one who Brook trusts, but now she is Your Majesty. Struggling to keep Sabara's presence a secret, Charlie is torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with the 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."
First Lines:

"He approached respectfully, cautiously. Warily.
She'd always been capricious, his queen. But of late, she was nothing less than upredictable."
Page 3

So, I really enjoyed The Pledge. But for some reason, I had a harder time getting through this second book. The story is solid, but...

Charlie has become the queen of Ludania, but she isn't alone. There is a second soul living in her body - the past queen named Sabara - who is trying to take control. Things start to escalate when Sabara spies her old flame and fellow immortal. Because of this, Charlie has even less control over her own body. There is also unrest in the countryside. There are people who want her dead. There is definitely a mole in the trusted royal advisers, but no one knows where to look.

Several people asked me how this book was while I was reading it. I will repeat my answer here... "I'm sure I would love it more if I had read The Pledge yesterday instead of a year ago." Consider yourself warned. You either need to remember exactly what happened in the first book or just go with it till you figure things out. There isn't a whole lot of backtracking to get you caught up. And up to date on who is who. It took them practically making out for me to remember that Max is Charlie's love interest.

I spent quite a while very confused about what was going on. I had remembered the beginning of the first book fairly clearly. But everything else was a little blurry. I know that this clouded my vision of this book - and didn't help with the amount of time it took for me to finish it. All that being said, the bones of this book are good. The story is good. I just needed a little more of a push to get me mentally involved. Especially when one of the main themes is a double-souled body. Things can get very confusing when that's not explored clearly. I have read lots of reviews by people who absolutely adored this book. So I feel like I might not have been in the right mindset.

In this second book you have another perspective added as well - Brooklyn has taken the position of commanding Charlie's army. She is the one who realizes there is someone against them. The one who has to protect the Queen. And it doesn't help that they're on the road traveling to a summit. So she adds a lot of adventure and is a very interesting character. There were a few others that I wish we had seen more of - ones that would have probably given the story more depth.

I think one of the reasons this book didn't resonate as much for me is that one of my favorite elements from the first book was missing. I just re-read my review and I remember loving and talking about the language barriers. Different levels of society spoke different languages. You weren't supposed to understand each other - especially if you were from a lower level of society. It was considered a crime if you heard a different language and looked at the person speaking it. What a cool concept. But that was thrown out the window the instant Charlie became Queen. You only get a small taste of that throughout this second story. And I suppose I was hoping for more of that idea.

So, all that being said... I know many people have loved these two books. I would probably still recommend them to people, but specify that they need to be read one right after the other. It's probably not my favorite series of all time, but I know it fits a niche that people really love right now (thanks dystopian lovers of the world). :) I hope you all have much better luck with this one than I did!
Other Blog Reviews:

Finding Bliss in Books
Carina's Books
Novel Novice
Mundie Moms
What the Cat Read
Gobs and Gobs of Books
DJ's Life in Fiction
Much Loved Books
Nori's Closet
In Between

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