“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.”
So, onto the story:
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Marie Lu, Young Elites is not her first series. That honor would go to Legend. It’s a pretty good series. But that’s beside the point. When I read the Young Elites the first time around (yes, I reread books often, as you’ll know if you’ve read my Lunar Chronicles book reviews), it was such a stunning contrast to her Legend series. Not that Legend was bad, because it wasn’t. The Young Elites is just on a completely different level. Besides, it’s kind of unfair to each series to compare a Dystopian sci-fi to a Fantasy.
Anyway, what I liked:
- We don’t normally get characters like Adelina. The whole time I was reading this, she felt to me like a Slytherin. And not even really in the stereotypical “she’s evil, and dark” kind of way. Adelina has not had an easy childhood. Her father definitely won’t be getting a “#1 Dad” mug, and after Adelina’s sister has had it much easier, it’s no surprise that Adelina is jealous of her. But what makes Adelina so interesting is that she still loved her sister, and wanted to protect her.
- You’re left feeling kind of bad for Teren, who probably will not meet a happy end.
- Even the love interest, Enzo, is complex enough you’re not sure if you can trust him or not.
- The world-building is phenomenal. Marie Lu does not hold back. She creates a polytheistic culture, as well as stories behind each god. I’m pretty sure she makes up at least one creature. A balira.
- That climax scene was pretty intense. The whole book was difficult to put down.
- Last, but certainly not least, it was just as enjoyable to read the second time around as it was the first. This is not a book that you can only read one time before you’re done with it.
A few minor things I didn’t like:
- Marie Lu’s world-building is so rich that there were a few times where I was a little confused about which god or deity was being discussed. It didn’t happen very often, but there were still a few instances.
- As much as I loved Adelina’s internal struggle, there were plenty of occasions where something bad would be happening, and she’d be terrified, but later she’d think Oh I enjoyed the fear. And while, for the most part, there’s some element in those scenes that shows Adelina revelling in the fear, there are a few places where it feels random and out of place.
But in reality, I loved this book. Five stars, definitely, for its characters, the plot, the world-building. I’m really looking forward to reading Rose Society (Young Elites #2) in the very near future.
If you’ve read this book already, feel free to leave spoiler-free thoughts in the comments below!