Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites, #1
When the blood fever swept through the lands, the loss was alarming. Though children survived when adults perished, the fever changed them, altering their appearance. To most, these survivors, called malfettos, are considered inferior, unfit for normal society. To others, malfettos are meant to be feared, even revered, for some have acquired strange and fantastic abilities. They are known as the Young Elites.
Adelina Amouteru is a malfetto, but no ordinary one. Forsaken by her father, she has no choice but to escape before she is sold. Adelina’s abilities are made manifest during her escape, resulting in death. At her sentencing she is rescued by members of the Dagger Society, a group of Young Elites, bent on taking the crown. Now Adelina must prove her abilities make her an asset, but the darkness inside her may put everyone around her in danger.
“The world around me froze, and then, as if my mind has crept out of my body and into the ground, an illusion of towering black shapes surged from the earth, their bodies crooked and jolting, their eyes bloody…”
The strongest feature in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites is its protagonist Adelina. She has grown up with a father who regards her with nothing but contempt. Continually pitted against her sister, Violetta, Adelina harbors thoughts of resentment and distrust. Her emotions are often contradictory; consequently, there are two versions of the protagonist fighting for control. Adelina is a dichotomy of altruism and malevolence, of strength and fear. Her gift is a personification of the darkness hiding inside her, which makes her both powerful and unpredictable.
Adelina is not the only flawed character in this novel. Teren, the Lead Inquisitor, tasked with hunting down the Young Elites, has very twisted motivations. And though he is presented as the main antagonist, I cannot help but view him as a puppet in another villain’s scheme. I do wish Lu had spent more time developing Enzo’s character. As leader of the Dagger Society, he is fierce and skilled, but I found his stoic attitude to be a little cliché. I don’t mind brooding characters as long as I, the reader, have insight into his or her psyche. I puzzle over the fact that though The Young Elites is told from several different perspectives, Enzo’s own is largely unexplored.
The Young Elites is full of action and explores the consequences of emotional abuse in an unforgiving world. Without giving anything away, the ending to this one does make me curious about the direction Marie Lu will take her characters in the next installment, so I will be checking out the sequel.