Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 was warned that this book was dark, and that I'd need a giant box of tissues and lots of ice cream to get through it.
I was told that getting into the head-space of an antihero would be intense and heartbreaking because you can see the darkness but you can't stop wanting her to turn towards the light.
I was told that this book was an amazing dark fantasy.
All of the above is true.
This book is definitely dark, and I felt cold and numb reading most of it. It also has some very warm and touching moments as well. There are multiple points of view, and you get to know a lot of very broken and complicated characters. Adelina is the main character, who has a lot of darkness in her heart after a traumatic childhood. When she is about to be executed, she is rescued by a mysterious band of other blood-fever survivors, each with special powers. I don't want to spoil anything, but all the characters, no matter how minor, had so much complexity and I couldn't even hate the antagonist(s) because they were broken people who believed they were doing the right thing.
There's something both terrible and wonderful with reading a story from an antihero's perspective. You see Adelina slipping, but you also empathize because you know what set her on that slippery slope. It's so easy to get caught up in her violent emotions and forget for an instant that she's going to give in to her darkness, but then you'll remember and it'll break your heart.
Raffaele was my favorite character. There is something just so charming about him and his gentleness in a world full of so much brutality and prejudice. He is Adelina's first real friend, and yet despite his kindness, he too is a broken soul. Raffaele broke my heart at the end of this book, and I need to know that things will be forgiven and everything will be okay even though I know that isn't likely.
A few (very very small) annoyances. One is just an aesthetic thing, which has nothing to do with the author. I guess I'm used to reading giant fantasy books that have been compressed into a reasonable number of pages with tiny font, because I felt like the font of this book was glaringly huge. It kind of screamed Young Adult to me, which was annoying because this book has a lot of crossover potential, and content-wise it could easily have been just plain fantasy instead of YA fantasy. I know a lot of people refuse to read YA books because of all the cliches (and a whole host of other issues) but THIS BOOK IS WORTH READING. So the branding thing bugged me a little. Another issue was that Marie Lu's writing style in Legend was very tight and clean, which fits the dystopian theme very well; at first I felt like this book had a similar style but it didn't quite fit the fantasy world. Either the writing style grew on me or it changed as the book progressed, because this didn't bother me at all by the end.
Thank you to my OTSP secret sister for sending this book to me! I really enjoyed this book and I want to continue to share the love, so Giveaway time (US only)! The giveaway goes until midnight (PST) Friday, November 14.
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