Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 with 9 comments
Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites, book #1
Publisher: Putnam BFYR
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

I've been anticipating The Young Elites for what feels like forever. I was not, however, anticipating just how dark this novel would be. I loved Marie Lu's LEGEND series and thought it was incredibly strong from start to finish. I sense that the same will be true for THE YOUNG ELITES series, as well.

The thing is, there's not a single character in this book who is well and truly good. Not one. They manipulate to their own ends. They scheme with ulterior motivations. I wouldn't trust any of them, and Adelina is right to keep everyone at arm's distance, even if it means she has to face her demons on her own. Adelina is not simply facing adversity at the hands of her captors or from her would-be allies...she's facing death because of who she is and what she can do...and what she now knows.

When she meets the members of the Dagger Society, she thinks she may have finally found kindred spirits. Adelina is broken and has been since she emerged from the blood fever that ravaged the city, killing many and leaving many more marked, including Adelina. As a malfetto, her life has not been easy, but it was made even less so by a father who only wanted to use her to his own ends. Making her situation worse still was the fact that her younger sister had not received any marking as a result of the fever and was therefore perfect in the eyes of their father and doted on as such.

I loved the sister dynamic in this book, most especially because it was so very reminiscent of the one in Cruel Beauty, another book I read and loved earlier this year. A hard, demanding father's expectations of his eldest daughter. His doting on the younger, more beautiful sister. Love, misplaced hatred, and jealousy that all lead to a broken bond...and all in the name of protecting one another. Adelina's memories paint quite the portrait of her relationship with Violetta, colored by her jealousy that she is marked and Violetta is perfect. But there are moments that show Adelina in a less harsh light. It's just a shame that the only one who seems able to keep Adelina from the darkness is her sister.

But others seek to fuel the darkness in Adelina, to harness the power that the darkness calls forth and use it for their own purposes. Adelina doesn't know who she can trust, only that she must do everything in her power to save her sister from the Inquisition. In doing so, she might risk the ultimate betrayal...and the only love she's ever known.

If you're anything like me, you saw one girl + two boys and immediately suspected that a love triangle was afoot. You'll quickly discover that, though the synopsis does lend itself to an air of triangularity, at least one of the potential love interests is otherwise engaged already. And I don't mean in the matrimonial sense, only that this character's affections are already spoken for. So, fear not, haters of love triangles...your ship will have smooth sailing...sort of. I enjoyed the romance that developed, for the most part, and when it was on, it was ON, but I still felt like something was missing. That could have something to do with the fact that I never fully connected with any of the characters, thanks to their continued evil-mindedness, though.

Also, I might lay some of the blame with all of those viewpoints. Adelina's is most prevalent, but from time to time, we are launched into Teren, Enzo and even Raffaele's perspectives and thoughts, though from a third-person point-of-view as opposed to Adelina's first person. I was intrigued to learn more about what was happening with the Daggers and at the Inquisition Tower, but I also felt that it pulled me away from feelings I could have developed toward Adelina's precarious situation, instead of thinking she was as bad as all the rest.

The ending of this novel is just as unsettling as the beginning and no less intense. I don't think it could've ended on a better note, albeit dark and dire as can be. It was soul-crushing but also elegant in its destruction. I don't know that I'd have wanted it any other way, even if it means that possibly even more disturbing things are coming as a result. I am just in awe of Marie Lu's ability to continually surprise me at every turn, to completely destroy what little heart I had left after her characters dashed it to pieces with their villainy. And I can't wait for her to do it again in the next book.

GIF it to me straight:
Mind = Blown

And be sure to check out my giveaway for The Young Elites, plus the entire LEGEND series by Marie Lu:

Marie Lu Prize Pack

Marie Lu Prize Pack
US only
Ends 9/30

About the author:

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling Legend series. She spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Find Marie:

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  1. I'm not quite sure, if I shall read "The Young Elites", because I didn't like "Legend" as much as everyone else and I still haven't finished this series...

  2. The reason that I've been so intrigued about The Young Elites is because of it's rumoured darkness. It's refreshing to see that in YA, you know? I've just been looking for a bit of a change. I'm glad to see that those rumours are actually truths. I love characters that linger in the grey area.

    "air of triangularity" <----- You had me there, Jen. I had a little chuckle to myself xD

    Fabulous review! I'll definitely be eagerly awaiting this release.

    Jess @ MyReadingDress

  3. Her Legend series soured quickly for me. So much so that I couldn't even read Prodigy. I'm hopeful for this one though, as I've seen some pretty wonderful reviews about it.

  4. I'm with Maura, Legend didn't really click for me, which was soo disappointing. I really love the sound of this one with it's dark undercurrent. I'm really hoping I will enjoy it.

  5. I ended up really liking this one too. That ending-so dark! I was pleased she went there! Great review Jen

  6. I've been anticipated this book for months, too. I've never read the Legend series, however, the premise of The Young Elites sounded more then intriguing. Then I (thought) was lucky enough to read a excerpt from it and got kind of put down. I didn't like the writing style at all, it seemed somewhat monotonous. But as I'm still very interested in their story I was quite clueless as to what to do. Your review gave me hope though, you seemed to have enjoyed it so I might have overlooked something or will be able to get used to the writing or I don't know. Excellent review, anyway!

  7. I really loved this! I agree it was hard to connect to the characters because of the POV changes and the air of evil over them. I also had no idea it was going to be so dark and that it was in essence a villain origin story. I still had a great time with it. Can't wait for the next book—I hope we get more Maeve! Awesome review, so glad you enjoyed it so much!

  8. Great review! I didn't really enjoy Legend, and didn't carry on with the rest of the series but this series sounds like it would much more to my liking, so I can't wait to read it.

  9. I'm so happy to hear there is no love triangle! But I still worry about this book - I have difficulty connecting with "dark" and unlikeable characters, and if I don't like the characters that usually brings down the whole book for me. Lauren and I are going to brave it, though!
    Lovely review, lady!


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