Friday, July 17, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Publication Date:  October 7, 2014
Publisher:  Penguin Young Readers Group
Series:  The Young Elites #1
Pages:  355
Genre:  Fantasy
Synopsis:  Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

Review:  This book is maniacal and lovely.  I'm kicking myself for not reading this sooner.  Dark protagonist, plot to overthrow the kingdom, and a disease that causes strange abilities?  Can I get a hell yeah?  

The writing is, as always, action packed and fast paced, capturing your attention and making the book easy to read.  The plot, while lagging at some places, has constant twists and turns that keep you on your toes.  However, a lot of the tension relies on an issue that could easily have been solved with a conversation, and the reasons provided for the lack of communication don't cut it.

The world is highly intriguing, to say the least.  The setting is a city that mirrors Venice, Italy in culture and location.  I like the infusion of political schemes and backlash, but the world building overall needs some expansion.  Marie Lu offers a glimpse at the complex society but it needs a deeper overview.

The magic system is explained thoroughly, something that is often disregarded in YA fantasy novels. Marie Lu provides a full understanding about how the magic works and is used by the Young Elites.  The powers the characters themselves possess are unique and specific, something I really enjoyed. 

What makes the book is the tone of it, the dark, bitter atmosphere that is built up throughout the course of the story. The protagonist, Adelina, is as grim and powerful as they come. Having an antihero narrate the book is the best decision that could have ever been made.  

Adelina may be somewhat evil, but all evil comes with reasons and a past.  Although she is villainous, you cannot help but root for her. Her darkness is justified, in some ways.  Her entire life has been an unfortunate situation, and she responds just as unfortunately. Adelina is not a bad person.  She tries to do the right thing at every turn and always ends up short.  

As for the other characters, I was at a loss.  None of them are fleshed out in the way Adelina is, making them pale in comparison. Enzo and Teren are the most prominent of the side characters, both having ulterior motives and plans.  But that's all they are, really, nothing more than faces with a goal.  Very different goals, that is.   

Ultimately, the thing that saves The Young Elites is that nothing is clear cut.  Everything is a gray area and nothing is known for sure. I am excited to see how the hints scattered throughout will come into play in the sequel, and I hope it will be just as twisted as its predecessor.  

3.5 Keys



  1. I think this actually made my top ten list of books I'll never read. Mostly because it isn't my normal genre and I saw mixed reviews. I am glad to see you enjoyed it though! Great review!

    1. Ah, no! It's great, but I totally get how it won't be for everyone. It is fantasy/magic heavy, which isn't for everyone. Thanks for commenting!