The Essence (The Pledge #2)
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.
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.
The Essence is a good second book not suffering from "middle book syndrome" as most seconds in trilogies. I enjoyed the new character developments, if some were a bit...strange. And the action was as pumping as ever. Although The Essence was a good read, there seemed to be something lacking, almost preparing for the third book. But, as usual Kimberly Derting does not disappoint. So, if you've read the first, then you should read the second.