Title: The Young Elites
Author : Marie Lu
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release date : October 7th, 2014
Rating : 4/5
Synopsis (from Goodreads) :
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.
It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.
The Young Elites is definitely good and entertaining, but it didn’t compare to Lu’s other trilogy, Legend. It disappointed me, and I think my disappointment kicked 0.5 star out of my rating.
Don’t get me wrong: the writing is very good. Marie Lu is skilled with the pen (or the computer, however she writes), and her words flow well. It’s pretty, but not embellished; Lu doesn’t bother with too much flourish and poetry, she shows instead of tells. It’s straightforward, fitting for a story about an army of young elites, fighting for their rights and survival. If she does use a bit of extravagance, it’s to further highlight her characters’ misery.
The hours run together, an endless train of nothingness, filled with different slants of light and the shiver of cold, wet stone, the pieces of my sanity, the disjointed whispers of my thoughts.
I don’t think my preferred writing style, which I would describe as more… refined, would have been good for this story, so Marie Lu was perfect. Like I said, I thoroughly enjoyed Legend, which is one of my favorite series. The writing is engrossing and fast-paced, full of action and twists and turns, and it keeps me on the edge of my seat.
Her skill at writing characters is still very good. I really liked Adelina, although the negativity sometimes brought me down, which isn’t always the best way to make me like someone. But I somehow got over it, and appreciated some aspects of her. Although I do think she was too negative and somewhat overdramatic, I was pleasantly taken aback by the sheer darkness of her character, the insatiable thirst for revenge against the world, who has treated her horribly all her life. Through Lu’s incredible writing, we could feel the bitterness and rage in Adelina’s heart. Because of her miserable past, it awakens in her some ugly desires and ambitions that, despite everything, I totally understand. When have I read about a main character that has such a dark personality? She’s YA-typical in some sense, but definitely not in the sense of a “selfless bravery”. The other characters were cool as well, although there aren’t much character development. I read somewhere an expression that encompasses these kinds of characters, “static characters”. I don’t remember where, exactly, but if you know who started this term, please let me know!
What I enjoyed the most about the characters, though, is the relationship between Adelina and Raffaele. Raffaele is a consort… a courtesan. Um, you know what I mean? And according to the book, he’s… pretty darn gorgeous. Everything about him is crazingly attractive. But, but, but… he has a completely platonic relationship with our protagonist!! How refreshing! And how refreshing also, that the romance was light and not dominant like the usual YA we read.
I wasn’t impressed by the plot, per se, but I was impressed with the introduction of the Young Elites. Actually, it was positively the best part of the story. The Young Elites gave me an X-Men-esque feeling, and since I absolutely adore the X-Men, I was thrilled when we were introduced to the Elites, one by one. Going from Enzo to Raffaele, I often had the thought: “Wow, you seem so normal when you speak, but I know you could kill me in a second with a flick of your wrist!”. I’m not new to reading/watching this kind of story, so it wasn’t anything special, but I was entertained by the special abilities, and the Renaissance-inspired setting gave me a different vibe to an otherwise familiar story.
Bref, if you’re looking for a dark fantasy, without the commitment a full-on Fantasy usually requires, The Young Elites would be a good choice!