The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Release: October 7th 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA
#1 in the Young Elites trilogy
Sequels: The Rose Society (#2), The Midnight Star (#3)
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
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.
Why am I always that sucker that ends up not liking Marie Lu's books as much as everyone else? Seriously, it's ridiculous. Her books are good, I know that, and I do like them, I just never end up loving them as much as the general consensus seems to. I don't know what it is, but it's already happened three times with the Legend trilogy. Ugh.
Anyway, maybe it's because the book started out, excuse me, pretty boring. For the first 80-100 pages, nothing really happened that sparked my interest, not even Adelina's execution managed to grab my attention, y'all. And then, after she's brought to the capital, Estenzia, there's lots of info dumps and random things going on that I couldn't care less about, for at least another 50 pages until the plot finally starts to thicken and the book starts to actually entertain me.
The characters, however, were priceless. I loved the heroine especially, 'cause my prayers have finally, FINALLY been heard — here I got me a cold ass bitch, a heartless mothertrucker with icy ambition and fury to fuel her. She'll do anything to get people to cower before her feet and kiss her ass, and I can definitely sympathize with it, and I really liked that Adelina didn't take no shit. At the same time, she had her weak moments as well and she wasn't too powerful and out of control, Marie Lu tip toes around that line extremely well. The other characters were, for the most part, interesting but never really developed. Except maybe for Raffaele and, partially, Violetta towards the end. Otherwise, I don't know — I still feel like I know so little about Teren, which, granted, he's the villain and authors sure like to shroud their villains in a shadow of mystery, but come on. At least give me something on all the other side characters...
Which leads me to my next point, the romance. Enzo is the epitome of a stereotype, he is the aloof, distant leader who likes to isolate himself from his "subjects" or comrades or whatever you wanna call 'em, the one who's extremely strong and handsome, but doesn't like to get close because, GASP, he's had a sweetheart in the past and she died; how tragic, what a poor boy.
Well, on top of Enzo's questionable characterization, the romance between him and Adelina was just ... non-existent, basically. There was NO build-up, NO chemistry, NO development, it was just built on physical attraction and desire because if they ever sat down and had a talk and learned something about each other, I must have damn well missed that scene.
The only relationship I truly liked was the one between Adelina and Raffaele, which was so well done, I think it deserves a slow clap. What a stellar example of a two-faced relationship. Adelina's relationship with her sister was spectacularly portrayed as well, though, I feel like I need to mention that too. How she both loved and hated Violetta at the same time, it felt so raw and, most of all, realistic. I can see where you're coming from, Adelina.
The world-building was darn confusing at first, because they simply throw around names without explanation, and it took me well past the halftime mark to finally figure it all out — I don't know, maybe I'm just a proper idiot, but it took a little while, perhaps also because I only read like one chapter a day up until like yesterday, when I finally had time to really read again, and so I'd forgotten little details already by the time I picked the book up again. *shrug* Whatever. I did like that this world was strongly influenced by Italian culture and language. Italy rocks, I've been trying to learn Italian for years now.
All in all, I liked the novel, the last ~100 pages were really, really good and the plot twists were actually surprising, but overall, they just couldn't make up for everything the 250 pages before them had already mucked up. I'll definitely read the sequel, and I loved that this series is all about empowering and strong females, but I'm sorry I didn't, couldn't end up loving it as much as I'd hoped I would.