books / writing

Book Review – The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I went to a Young Adult Literature conference thing last year (yeah, I said thing, cause I have no idea how to explain it really) where someone shares recent publications for children and young adults that are good for librarians and teachers. Teaching high school as I do, I can’t assign the books because they aren’t advanced enough for what curriculum requires, but it does give me ideas for recommendations and well, I am a writer, so it fuels my love for the age group.

The Young Elites was mentioned at this conference thing and the concept appealed to me, as did the fact I knew the author was well known for her other series: Legend.

Blurb from 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.

Cool idea, right? Powers that require our main character to dig into the unhealthy emotions, destructive choices, etc. That’s not something I’ve really seen before and the closest I can think is X-men (the movies, not the comics because I’m not that cool).

The world was great. Very realized and thought out. The world of those good and those bad was not clear and often I did wonder who would come out on top. I give kudos to Lu for excellent world-building.

Some spoilers below:

But I didn’t love the characters. They felt a little flat, a little archetype, especially the secondary characters who could have been fleshed out in ways that could surprise and delight the reader. Enzo, the romantic interest, other than being a redhead (YAY) is typical YA hero. Brooding, seems to not like our heroine, but actually falls for her. Teren is interesting in the fact that he fights against the very thing he is. Adelina is interesting, but I’m not sure I like her. And she drove me crazy when she kept not telling those she should have trusted what was going on with her and the blackmail. I know why she didn’t, but it bugged me all the same because I feel like that always happens in YA novels with paranormal elements. The girl never goes to the people who could help her, but nearly gets herself killed being ‘heroic/martyr-like.’

The romance itself was typical. Heat and kissing, some things in common maybe, but really it’s all hotness and perfect making out. It doesn’t end like you expect it (cheers for that), but I wasn’t invested in the romance or the characters.

I imagine many will love this, but for me, it just didn’t suck me in like I was hoping.

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