Title: The Young Elites
Series: The Young Elites (#1)
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: high fantasy, YA
In short: dark, compelling, an amazingly constructed world, and a heroine who’s out for vengeance. WHAT. MORE. COULD. YOU. ASK FOR.
Goodreads: 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.
There’s something in certain books I like to call the holy shit factor. Even if they aren’t 5-star-worthy, they’ll blow your mind. These are the kind of books you stay up reading and then spend two hours staring at the dark ceiling thinking about. What did I just read? Where can I get more of it?
The Young Elites is one of those. It’s heavy, it’s dark, and vaguely reminiscent of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). But it’s (and I do not cast this word around lightly) hella rad.
No one wants you to be yourself. They want you to be the version of yourself that they like.
A deadly plague struck the kingdom of Kenettra years ago, killing adults and leaving some children scarred. And some of the scarred victims—malfettos, hated and reviled—have terrifying powers. Adelina Amouteru is a malfetto, abused by her father and despised by the world for most of her life. Adelina’s sick of being treated like a monster, but just as she tries to take matters into her own hands, something goes terribly wrong. Suddenly Adelina is wanted by the Inquisition Axis to be burned alive for a mysterious power. And she’s also wanted by The Young Elites, a secret society of malfettos who refuse to give in to the Inquisition and the king. Adelina’s powers can make or break the Elites’ plans, but so can her hunger for revenge.
“Fear creates the strongest illusions.”
My favourite part about this book was undoubtedly Adelina. I love how bitter she is, how vengeful, how ambitious. Not to say that she isn’t compassionate, but Marie Lu doesn’t hold back on showing us her darkness. And that goes for every other character too. They’re all complex, three-dimensional, and in their own ways, twisted. There is no such thing as good. There’s only grey, and greyer. Several of the supporting characters really shone in that respect—Enzo (ENZOOOOOOOOOOOO), Teren, and Raffaele (precious human being that he is). The relationships between these characters were so captivating to read. Especially the Adelina/Raffaele friendship. Nawwww. Not to mention Adelina’s relationship with her sister Violetta, which really reminded me of the sister dynamic from Cruel Beauty. Much love.
And then there’s the world. Holy moly, is the setting amazing. I could probably write an entire essay on why I love it. Not only do I have a crazy thing for any setting remotely Italian, I have a crazy thing for any setting that’s as well thought-out and detailed as this one. Kenettra is fascinating, with its customs and clothing. One thing I love is that it never feels like an isolated land—a mistake many authors make. We’re shown little things about the neighbouring countries, Tamoura and Beldain, as well. This book is not just set in a city or a country, it’s set in a universe. And Marie Lu really deserves applause for that.
Should I break my vow, let the dagger take from me what I took from the dagger.
I need the next book, basically.