January 14, 2015

Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu
Publication date: Oct. 7, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Summary: Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever, a deadly illness that 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 pale and a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a an abomination, ruining their family. But some of the survivors have mysterious gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they're called the Young Elites. Teren Santoro works for the king and it's his job to seek out the Young Elites and destroy them. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society, a secret sect of Elites who seek out others like them. 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 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
There’s been a lot of hype around The Young Elites and it is well-deserved! As a long time fan of Marie Lu, I was impressed by this darker and more complex side of her writing. It’s a book filled with all morally-grey characters and a protagonist that teeters the line between heroine and villianness. In Lu’s fantasy world, a deadly illness known as the blood fever plagued the nation leaving most dead and the surviving children — called malfettos — forever changed by strange markings on their bodies. Even stranger are the ones who developed special powers, known as the Young Elites, and have to keep their identities secret for fear of those who despise and want to kill them. Which happens to include the King and Queen.

Can I just take a minute her to talk about how awesome Adelina Amouteru’s name is? Every time I saw it as a chapter heading, I found myself taking a moment to say it in my head. But on a more serious note, Adelina is our protagonist, a word I use lightly here. She’s a malfetto and the blood fever left her hair silver and caused her to lose her left eye. Her cruel father has mistreated her her entire life and unwittingly cultivated a darkness she constantly battles. She has a sister, named Violetta, who also contracted the blood fever but managed to come out of it unscathed. Therefore, she became their father’s favorite, the one he could be proud of. With Violetta, Adelina is torn between fierce love  (which her sister returns) and an equally fierce envy. One night, Adelina can’t take it anymore and leaves her home. This is when her powers finally show themselves and as a result, the Young Elites find her and recruit her to be one of them. But first she has to prove herself worthy. And this is where Adelina finds herself at a crossroads - between loyalties, who she is and who she wants to be.

I loved that the author was able to take this dark character and make me feel sympathy towards her. Even during her most cruel thoughts, I don't think that her anger and need for vengeance necessarily defined who she was. I think deep down Adelina is looking for what everyone wants - love and acceptance. Or maybe I just want to believe there's good in everyone. Still, her character is a good example of the whole nature vs. nurture debate. If not for her father, maybe she wouldn't be as angry as she is now. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed the complexity of Adelina. As the story moves forward, she becomes torn (not romantically!) between Enzo Valenciano, the leader of the Daggers Society, a sect of Young Elites, and Teren Santoro, who works for the King and seeks to destroy them. Both Enzo and Teren get their own chapters in the book so we get sides of their stories that Adelina doesn't. She wonders if they are both using her (yes) and if they can they be trusted (sort of)? They each have different battles they're fighting but it's clear that if Adelina can figure out what she wants, she will be more powerful than them both.

(Minor) Reservations
My only reservation was probably the Dagger society itself. I understood why they needed to be secretive and selective about who they accepted into their group. It's dangerous times and you have to know who you can trust. But their characters felt a bit two-dimensional. I wanted more! I think if I had, especially Enzo because of the relationship he develops with Adelina, certain scenes would've had more of an emotional impact on me.

Do I recommend?
I do! Marie Lu's Legend series is one of my all-time favorites so I was a bit scared that The Young Elites wouldn't meet my expectations. But it did! It's different and complex and I can't wait for the next book.

3 comments:

  1. You know, I'd really been waffling about reading this because I'm so not into really dark stuff. But your review is seriously making me rethink that. Thanks!

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  2. I love your sheer enthusiasm for The Young Elites, R! While I didn't necessarily feel the same way, I do think there was potential for this series to take a turn for the interesting. Still, for a first experience with an author, it was pretty good. I still want to give her Legend series a shot!

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  3. I didn't really enjoy Legend as much as everyone else (not that it was bad, but I wasn't fangirling either). I'm really excited to read this one now and see if I can finally join the bandwagon :D From what you've said in your review, I'm really excited to read this, and I'm definitely going to and buy it! Brilliant review

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