Monday, March 31, 2014

A Final Offering

Language separates us all in ways that are cultural and expected. We expect to be able to speak to those we share a country with, but we can't imagine a country separate into castes by the language we speak... or can we? Isn't language already a separation between those who can and those who can't In Kimberly Derting's final Pledge novel, The Offering, Charlie finally understands what it means to be a queen. 

When Charlie became queen, she did not rid the world of Sabara the tyrant. She fused Sabara's soul to her own. While it hasn't been easy, she has chosen to block out the former queen's negativity and focus on the changes she always dreamed she could make to her country. She disbanded the work camps for orphaned children. She sent their sadistic leaders to their punishment for years of abuse. She disbanded the caste system. Most importantly for a country separated by language, she restored communications. Sabara had cut all communication systems in the country long ago, but at Charlie's insistence, they were replaced and brought the country back together. Sure, this means her enemies could communicate easier as well, but Charlie refused to think of her people with Sabara's paranoia. She was a different kind of queen. 

Her scariest threat was Elena, the queen who would do anything to have Sabara's power. Charlie sent her friend, Xander, to forge an accord with Elena, but his long absence has troubled them all. When Elena sends a token of her time with Xander, a piece of him, Charlie gets both messages- the implied one from his severed hand, and the hidden one in the bottom of the box. As a true queen, Charlie knows it is her own duty to set off and stop Elena from the harm she intends for the people Charlie loves. Charlie might be young, but she certainly doesn't underestimate the lengths Elena is willing to go for control of Sabara. 

This series and its basis over language as a caste system has always been intriguing to me, especially as a teacher of dyslexics where language is a constant factor in their successes and failures. If you don't believe me, ask a dyslexic about an experience where they had to fill out an application on the spot and couldn't take it home to spell check it or ask someone for help with it. They will tell you what separation language makes between them and a non--dyslexic. So to see Charlie bring the country back together, for better or worse, was great for me. It felt like the same sentiment that fights to uphold the freedom of speech or demonstration even if it means also protecting groups and people you disagree with. If I want my rights, then I can't deny them for anyone. It was a really beautiful sentiment, and I loved watching Charlie blossom into a true queen. She was selfless and brave, and it didn't hurt that she could kick a little butt when needed!

The finale had a slow moment or two, but it really was just one big journey to the final battle against Elena. Charlie was truly the epitome of great leadership while Elena was the quintessential power-hungry leader who can never have enough. As we see the two comparatively, their differences are vast and unmistakable. It was a really nice juxtaposition. So even with a few slow parts, the story was a great ending to a great story. Kimberly Derting proved she could do dystopia with the same ease she did supernatural in the Body Finder series... so what's next?!

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