“Be true to yourself. But that’s something everyone says and no one means. No one wants you to be yourself. They want you to be the version of yourself that they like.” – The Young Elites, Marie Lu
Initial thoughts: I adored Marie Lu’s Legend series, and her newest novel Warcross. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing she cannot write. She is one of those writers who can turn a manuscript into solid gold. But how does her novel The Young Elites measure up?
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.
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.
I was really not expecting this sort of novel from Marie Lu after reading Legend. Legend is a science fiction dystopian novel set in futuristic Los Angeles. I was expecting the Young Elites to be similar, because lets face it, once an author is brilliant in one genre, usually they do not write outside of their genre. The Young Elites, to my surprise, is a fantasy novel (with some elements of dystopia) set in the fictional realm of Kenettra.
Scarred by the blood fever from a young age, Adelina Amouteru has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful younger sister, Violetta. As a result of the blood fever Adelina has become a “malfetto,” leaving her with only one eye. When Adelina is captured for murder, she learns that she has magical powers. She can weave illusions around her, unleashing the most beautiful and terrifying creations from her mind. Adelina is nearly murdered for her powers when she is magically saved by Enzo, the crown prince who has been cast out of his kingdom for being a malfetto.
Enzo’s plan is to gather as many malfettos with special powers in order to lead an uprising against his sister, the queen of Kenettra. For the first time, Adelina feels wanted. But when the Queen’s guard captures Violetta, Adelina is forced to decide if the life of her sister is worth the betrayal of her friends.
Adelina is probably the strongest female main character I have ever encountered in young adult fiction. She is not “miss perfect” by any standards. Some of her decisions are downright evil and hateful. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to fully blame her for her decisions. The other characters are not saints either (not by any means). It is fascinating to read a novel where the difference between good and evil is blurred slightly.
I did find the other characters were a little bland in The Young Elites. In the second book, The Rose Society, the secondary characters are given a little more character development. Honestly, I preferred the second book to the first book, which is rare for me. I still have yet to read the last book in the trilogy, The Midnight Star, but after reading The Young Elites and The Rose Society, I am sure the third book will probably live up to my expectations.
Once again, Marie Lu has created a brilliant debut to a fantastic series. I would recommend this book for fans of fantasy novels with anti-heroes.
About the Book
Title: The Young Elites Author: Marie Lu Series: The Young Elites (Book #1: The Young Elites, Book #2: The Rose Society, Book #3: The Midnight Star) Year Published:2014 Pages:355 Genres & Subjects: Fiction, young adult, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy