I received this book for free from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #1
Published by Putnam Children's on October 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Source: Penguin Canada
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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.
After reading Legend, when I heard Marie Lu was coming out with a new series I just knew I had to read it. This woman is a fantastic author with great imagination and a knack for character development. This one was much more fantasy that I usually read, though, so it was less my taste, but it was still an entertaining ride that I think will captivate a lot of readers of the genre.
We begin this journey with a look into the heartbreaking story of Adelina’s upbringing. A girl who was once affected by the blood fever that swept the nation and made her a malfetto. A girl with a marking; useless, worthless – and feared, for many are thought to have unnatural abilities. This immediately made me sympathetic towards our main character. This kind of psychological abuse has also made her hard. She’s definitely harbouring a lot of anger and hate, which we see surface a time or two in the story. I also loved how… unpredictable this made her. You knew she was going to explode and I personally could not wait to see it. Being a big fan of stories about alarming dystopian-like scenarios and the badasses who survive them, this story was off to a great start. It’s not your usual dystopian, however. This world is more high-fantasy, with even a map at the beginning to help situate yourself in her surroundings. So even though I loved the premise and the characters, this was the first hint that this story was maybe not quite my usual read.
The Young Elites is a group of malfettos who all have a unique ability. Some can manipulate the wind, some can create fire, and as for Adelina, she can create visions and make you fear what’s not really there. She joins this group of people in their fight against the King and his evil laws. They want to stop living in fear, to have to hide who they are, by gaining control of this political injustice. While the beginning of the book is full of action and thrill, most of the story focuses on this political intrigue. It’s a complex system with a lot of different players and I would lie if I say I was able to grasp it all in its entirety. I felt confused on a few of the details in this area. I also grew frustrated with Adelina and her justifications for not telling the Young Elites about being blackmailed. It was such an easy way out for her, and while I understand she was afraid of them, it was much better than the alternative. It was a big unnecessary conflict that took up a lot of time. Consequently, I felt the pacing was a bit stagnant at times, but I’m also not the biggest fan of political drama. On the other hand, I loved how the true enemy was not black and white. I was constantly made to question which side was really the “good” side, and if there was even a good side at all.
Ultimately, I have to say that this a very well crafted story with some shocking happenings and complex characterization. The different abilities that we’ve seen so far are exciting and fascinating. There’s a romance that develops, too, as expected, but it’s kept to a somewhat minor subplot. The ending is bittersweet, and full of exciting possibilities. I loved the quick intro to a new character who’s bound to be an interesting addition to the story. Lu is also not afraid of making big moves in her books which I admire her for. So all in all, this is a promising start to a series, and bound to be a great ride for those who enjoy the mix of fantasy and political intrigue!
3.5 Hot Espressos