Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: The Essence by Kimberly Derting

Published: January 1st, 2013 (Margaret K. McElderry)
Pages: 352
Rating: 5/5
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 [Description from Goodreads]
Everything’s fine and dandy. Charlie’s on the throne as Ludania’s queen, Max is by her side, and her family has nothing to fear ever again. She’s vanquished Sabara from the throne, and she’s ready to become the queen everyone always wanted and needed.
At least that’s what she thinks.
Little does she know that she’s about to become her own greatest enemy.
Oh my gosh, how I loved this book. I can say without doubt that I liked it even better than The Pledge. While the last book was good, it wasn’t as unpredictable and all-around exciting as The Essence. Charlie has so much more on her plate in this book, and to say the least, she has no idea what she’s doing. She wants to be the just, kind, approachable queen that Sabara was most definitely not. But of course, that’s not protocol. I will say that Charlie’s down-to-earth mentality about her queenship seemed kind of mediocre; I mean, how many Disney princesses have we gone through that have that same mentality? But it didn’t bother me that much, mainly because something else overpowered it.
The “evil soul residing within.” *cue creepy piano music*
I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Charlie’s own fight against the essence within her parallels the Christian fight between God’s will for us and the temptations of the devil. I don’t know if Derting purposely meant to insert this analogy or did it by mistake, but it’s very clear and vibrant throughout the book.
Because of some rebel activity in the capital, Charlie and her entourage head to a queenly business meeting of sorts in a far off region. This requires some traveling, so much of the book is taken up in that. I liked this, though I’ve hear that some other reviewers didn’t. My opinion: I love road trip books, and I love that this book kind of turned into one. *shrugs*
Mmmk. The romance. Here we go. I could have gone for more, honestly. But Charlie wasn’t even with Max half the time, so thus, slim chance on much romance happening.  But then Derting introduces a certain someone (whose name I won’t mention- don’t you just hate when I do that?) and things get all be-jumbled. Let’s just say I LOATHED the idea of Mystery Man with Charlie, even if it was the essence that…made…her attracted to him. See what I mean by be-jumbled? *sigh*
So that’s that, ladies and gents. The Essence is soaked in that unique voice we all read and loved in The Pledge, and is even more action-packed. Mentioning action, there’s quite a bit of blood spilt in this one- just a warning (if you can handle Hunger Game-level violence, you’ve got this one in the bag). While some small portions were “eh,” overall, it won me over. Now all I have to do is not so patiently wait on Book 3. Easier said than done, folks. Easier said than done.      
Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: Mild (a few minor words scattered here and there)
Violence: Moderate-Heavy (bloody battle/attack sequences, description)
Sexual: Mild (some kissing)

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