The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Published by Putnam in 2014
Series: The Young Elites, #1
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, young adult
Format & Length: e-book, 277
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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.
The Young Elites first popped on to my radar about a year ago, when I read the summary, thought it looked interesting, added it to my long to be read list, and didn’t think much more about it for a while. Sure, it popped up every so often in my Goodreads and Instagram feeds, but I had other books higher on my list. Then, last week I found out that the e-book versions of The Young Elites and The Rose Society were on sale for $1.99 apiece. Naturally, I promptly purchased both. As I was just finishing up with the monster that is Under the Dome and looking for a faster paced read, this was perfect timing.
Not quite like anything else I’ve read, The Young Elites stands out in my mind. Adelina’s story fascinated me. Reading about her background, the reasons for the darkness that begin to engulf her make perfect sense. It was dark and gritty and raw. And I couldn’t help but root for her. But she wasn’t the only interesting character here – the remaining characters were complex and intriguing as well. No one was simply ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ and they all related to each other in ways that felt realistic.
The setting, while taking the backseat to the characters, was also woven in beautifully. Based in the reality of Renaissance Italy and then adding a level of fantasy, for me it matched the magic of the story. (To be clear, that kind of thing is right up my alley.)
Overall, this was an intense, engaging, and enjoyable read that I didn’t want to put down for anything (of course, life and work happens, so I had to). What’s holding me back from rating it a 5 is that little bit of extra I-don’t-know-what that would have kept me up at night to read it, along with the fact that I wouldn’t recommend it to absolutely everyone. If young adult magical fantasy isn’t your thing, The Young Elites probably won’t be either. But I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next!