The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publishing Info: 2014 by Penguin (first published 2014)
Star Rating: 4/5
Back Cover Summary:
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.
The Young Elites is the first novel by Marie Lu I have read. I’d heard a lot of good things about her books so I had high hopes. What I loved about it is that it’s much darker than other YA fantasy I have read, and it isn’t about black and white good versus evil. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure who to root for because there didn’t seem to be ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’, there were positives and negatives about both ‘sides’. This made the story so much more interesting. I do like a good vs. evil story, but it was nice to read something that blurred the lines for a change. The actions and ideals of many characters was questionable, so none of them really seemed ‘good’, which was far more realistic than having two opposing ends of the spectrum in conflict.
The main character, Adelina, is by no means a ‘hero’. She has a troubled past and is filled with darkness. She feeds off fear and is driven by power and ambition. The novel follows her perspective closely, so I felt I really understood all her feelings and motivations. She’s a really interesting main character and her internal conflict is written very well.
Unfortunately, most of the other characters were neglected. This novel is very short for fantasy, which I didn’t mind, except I think it perhaps needed to be a little longer to give more time to developing other characters. While Adelina’s characterisation is brilliant, very few other characters were given enough attention and development by Lu. Teren, Raffaele and Violetta were depicted well; I felt I knew their characters well enough. However Lucent, Dante, Gemma and Michel were very vaguely sketched. By the end I didn’t know them at all. No time was given to them at all so they were just like shadows in the background rather than proper characters. Even Enzo was a little too mysterious. Most of the characters just weren’t fleshed out enough.
The plot was good and the storytelling kept me engaged. Lu had me hooked and I wanted to keep reading. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, the story managed to surprise me. Its unpredictability made it gripping.
I can’t wait to see where the next two books head, and I hope the series continues to surprise me. The first book ended far from how I would have expected (in a good twist kind of way), and I’m excited to see how Adelina’s character develops (and hopefully there will be more development for other characters in the next one…).