n the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
A big draw for this book is the cover. As some of you know, I am a huge cover slut. I love a good cover. I get all consumed by it. And this, is one of them. It's beautiful and haunting. Take a moment.
The second big draw for me was the concept about language. As an English teacher, language is a big deal to me and I was curious how it would play a role. I was very pleased when language was the connector for all of society and the division as well. It was underlying throughout the whole book. Charlie can understand all languages, even ones she is unfamiliar with. You see society mixing speaking their own and the universal, but Charlie gets herself in a position where she doesn't lower head to someone else speaking a "higher" language and she almost was executed for it.
This book is not one that when I finished, I gushed about. Instead I finished it, was satisfied by the book's ending, even if it ended right there forever (WHICH THANK GOD IT DOESN'T), but woke up the next morning thinking about scenes and characters. I continued for a day or two to think about it. The book stays with you.
Charlie carries around the secret that she is different from everyone else and that her sister Angeline is as well and that these differences could result in them being arrested and executed. But what Charlie doesn't realize is how special she is. She gets that her parents are good people (which I have noticed is a running trend that our teen heroes have crappy parents), Brook and Aron are great friends, and her sister though she does not speak, is special. Someone who sees how special she is, is Max. Max was different from everyone in the story. And when it was revealed how special he was - I did the "No Way!"
The ending - I saw coming - but the very, very end - and what Charlie reveals is a little unnerving if you were her.
It was a great read. Kimberly Derting did a fantastic job.