Sometimes, you find a book that takes you by surprise. Whether it’s because of the plot, the characters, the uniqueness of the story, the writing or just overall the rumors versus what you really feel while reading it… well, sometimes there are some books that make you wonder what the heck you just read. I’m glad to say that The Young Elites was that kind of book – in a positive, veeeeery dark way.
A WORLD FILLED WITH DARKNESS
“Some hate us, think us outlaws to hang at the gallows.
Some fear us, think demons to burn at the stake,
Some worship us, think us children of the gods.
But all know us.”
When I picked up The Young Elites, I hadn’t read a fantasy / dystopian book in a long, long time. I’ll admit it: I had grown a bit tired of the genre, everything felt the same. Getting back into that genre with The Young Elites was a wise choice, however: the concept was intriguing and most of it all, the whole story kind of took my breath away, for many reasons.
In this dystopian world, a deadly illness spread over Adelina’s nation, leaving only some children to survive with strange markings. Malfettos. Hated by everyone, considered as evil and just plain wrong. Some of them have magical powers. Some others are just redeemed as useless. But everyone is afraid of them for sure. Basically, that’s the blurb, and a whole lot of other things are happening as we follow Adelina, our main character, through a crazy, dark, complex adventure in this world filled with magic, treason and more.
The Young Elites, as any fantasy and dystopian story, relies a lot of world-building and pacing to work. Right from the first pages, I found myself engrossed in the story, intrigued by the complexity of this world that feels a bit medieval. However, the strong suit here didn’t lie in the way the world was built or complex, even if it existed: it was the characters and their particular abilities that gave it three dimensions and really made it live in my mind.
EMOTIONS AND CHARACTERS AT THE HEART OF THE STORY
“To love is to be afraid. You are frightened, deathly terrified, that something will happen to those you love. Think of the possibilities. Does your heart clench with each thought? That, my friend, is love. And love enslaves us all, for you cannot have love without fear.”
You know me: I love my books filled with emotions. As emotions were roots to make powers grow in this story, I was HAPPY. I felt immersed in the story, in the characters’ emotions and dilemmas and managed to grow fond of many characters thanks to this connection I felt. Especially towards the main character, Adelina. From what I had heard, The Young Elites was, and is supposed to be a villain’s story. However, I found myself relating, feeling, hearing Adelina’s struggles through the book as her dark side takes over, as she loses herself in power, treason and as she tried and fights her inner demons…or not. From the beginning to the end of this book, Adelina grew, changed, gained power and strength a little more everyday. It was a journey I loved following right from the beginning.
The secondary characters aren’t left out, which I appreciated a lot. If the story is told mainly from Adelina’s point of view, I was glad to get a glimpse of some of the other characters’ minds, understand their trail of thoughts, their motives and everything else thanks to the diverse point of views. If I still enjoyed and looked forward to Adelina’s rest of the story, I was good and even satisfied, at times, to get some background from the other characters, to have a whole picture of the story and of what was really happening here.
“How many times have you been called an abomination?” he whispers. “A monster? Worthless?”
Too many times.”
Adelina’s group of “friends”, let’s call them that way?! Were just as well fleshed-out as she was, even if I could have used more of them on page. I really liked how different they all felt, how, with simple descriptions, they stood off the page and left an imprint on my mind, something that doesn’t necessarily happens with secondary characters, so, yes.
Did I mention that there are sisters in this book?! NO? Well, I should have started by this. If there is something I love in all of my books, it’s siblings relationships and in The Young Elites, I’m getting one. It’s complex, it’s not necessarily a happy relationship at all times, but it’s strong and it jumps off the page and gave me emotions, which I LOVED.
Strong character, strong world-building and interesting writing that certainly made me feel things: The Young Elites had tons of potential for sure and was a strong beginning to a series I’m looking forward to discover more. I’m not really used to this kind of darkness in books and it’s not usually my scene, which is why I’m not really rating this 5 stars. If I loved the characters, the darkness, the setting and everything else, it was still…dark. And from what I’m getting – and the excerpt I read-, the second book is even darker. But there’s no way I’m giving up on this promising series now.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Do you want to read The Young Elites? Did you read the whole series? I heard it was DEVASTATING??? Share your thoughts in comments!
Marie Lu, The Young Elites, Published by G.P Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers, October 7th, 2014.
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.