The Friday 56: The Midnight Star

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“You look well enough,” I say. I tilt my head slightly at him. “Less filthy than the last time I visited. You’ve been eating and drinking.” There were several weeks when he refused all food, when I thought he might intentionally starve himself to death. But he is still here.

The Midnight Star is the final book in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites trilogy about a girl pushed to the brink, who gives into the darkness inside her, becoming a villain for what she believes are all the right reasons. Read my full review hereCover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.”

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The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

the-midnight-star-by-marie-lu Title: The Midnight Star
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites, #3
Pages: 316
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 11th 2016

      “There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.
      Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.
      Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.”

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“The woman’s eyes bulge. She lets out a choked scream as she falls to the ground and claws at the dirt. Behind her, the entire crowd flinches in unison as eyes and heads turn away from the sight. The terror flowing from her feeds directly into me, and the voices in my head explode into shouts, filling my ears with their delight.”

The Midnight Star, the final book in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites series, brings Adelina’s story to a close as she’s finally faced with the choice between darkness and light. Over the course of two books, we’ve seen Adelina transition from a very frightened girl to a ruthless queen. Her journey has largely been defined by the cruel treatment done to her and those like her. As a malfetto, Adelina has been defined as an abomination, her unnatural abilities a dangerous effect caused by a terrible plague. Rejected by her father and society, Adelina has learned how far those in power will go to rid the world of those like her. When Adelina loses someone close to her and is betrayed by her friends, she gives in to her grief and the seething hatred that gnaws at her day after day. Now as queen, Adelina is determined to conquer the known world by any means necessary.

Adelina’s transformation into this unmovable and vicious ruler is almost understandable. As much fun as it is reading about villains, having a backstory always helps in creating a dynamic character instead of a stagnant one. Lu was able to give us this backstory, to show the steps that led Adelina down this dark path, but she was also able to make us continue to care for a character who at times can only be described as blood-thirsty. Many of Adelina’s actions are motivated by her desire to right a wrong done to those like her. To reverse a system that treated malfettos as abnormalities. But her methods are cruel, she leaves little room for mercy and sees every unmarked person as an enemy meant to be punished.

While I do think that Adelina makes a really interesting character study, I’ve always wanted more from the other characters in this series. Most of the story is told from Adelina’s perspective with a few chapters here and there featuring Raffaele. His perspective is really important as his character acts as an antithesis to Adelina, though he’s endured unspeakable abuse, he does not give in to hatred. But it is characters like Violetta, Adelina’s sister, and Magiano, the thief who stays by her side, who I wanted to hear more from. Both are close to Adelina and have different reactions to her growing cruelty and especially with Magiano, I wanted to get more of a backstory from him because it would help to understand why he stays so loyal to Adelina despite her terrible actions.

It was really interesting to see Adelina interact with her former friends whom she now considers enemies, for them to find a common ground despite their differences, and for Adelina to finally face the darkness inside her head on, but ultimately, I felt underwhelmed by this conclusion and this may be because of the higher expectations I placed on it after the second book The Rose Society impressed me so much.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

The Friday 56, #94: The Rose Society

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’re been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“The illusion breaks without warning. The brightly lit temple, the steaming water and statues–all disappear in an instant, leaving us back in the dark recesses of the broken bathhouse and its overgrown shell. Spots of light still float across my vision. I have to adjust to the darkness, almost as if I’d been blinded by something real.”

You know when you read a sophomore novel and it doesn’t live up to the first? It’s a huge disappointment. I’m happy to say that Marie Lu’s The Rose Society, the second book in her Young Elites series, was not disappointing. In fact, I found myself liking this second novel more than the first. You can read my review of The Young Elites here and my review of this one here.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Title: The Rose Society
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites, #2
Pages: 395
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 13th, 2015

       “Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.
       But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?”

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“I have never known the mind of a wolf hunting a deer, but I imagine it must feel a little like this: the twisted excitement of seeing the weak and wounded cowering before you, the knowledge that, in this instant, you have the power to end its life or grant it mercy. In this moment, I am a god.”

Marie Lu’s The Rose Society, the sequel to The Young Elites, follows Adelina as she walks further down a dark path that’s fed by loss, guilt, betrayal, and the thirst for revenge. This series is unique in that it gives insight into a protagonist who will eventually become a villain. In The Young Elites, Adelina first discovers her power, but is then cast out by those she once regarded as friends. In The Rose Society, Adelina begins to discover just how powerful she truly is and how far she is willing to go for vengeance. Though Adelina’s desire to stop the Inquisition is justified in their mistreatment of malfettos, the darkness within her tempts her to go to further extremes in abolishing those who have wronged those like her.

The Rose Society introduces several new characters including Magiano, the first Elite Adelina attempts to recruit. An infamous Elite known for his uncanny ability at thievery, Magiano was by far my favorite character. He brought lightness and mischief to Adelina’s dark world. We also get more acquainted with Queen Maeve of Beldain, whose unusual ability plays a key role in the novel. The most interesting relationship was the one between Adelina and her sister Violetta. It is Violetta’s presence that functions as a constant for Adelina, but it’s also a relationship that exposes the protagonist’s inability to trust completely. I’d really like more insight into Violetta’s mindset and am hoping to see more of her in the next book.

The Rose Society is an excellent sequel which explores the often volatile psyche of its protagonist. Adelina constantly struggles between darkness and light, illusion and reality, friend and foe. I’m eagerly awaiting the final book to see how her Adelina’s story ends.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
Editor: April Genevieve Tucholke
Authors: Various
Series: N/A

Ghosts, murderers, and death bring plenty of frights in this horror anthology. Inspired by various mediums from films to classic horror novels to music, these fourteen short stories are filled with thrills, twists, and trepidation. And just when you think you have a story figured out, the surprises are fierce yet strangely satisfying.

“After a while, Richard started getting the distinct impression that someone was watching him sleep. There was a strange weight in his room, as if the furniture or the walls weren’t aligned quite right, and sometimes he would feel that weight press against his chest like a stone.”

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a great collection of horror stories perfect for October. I’m familiar with most of the authors in this anthology, having read books by a large majority of them. Authors like Nova Ren Suma and Jonathan Maberry are sure to bring their personal brand of the strange and thrilling, but I was most impressed by authors like Marie Lu. Best known for her Legend series, Lu weaves together one of my favorite short stories in this book. The Girl Without a Face takes something as simple as a closet that won’t open and turns it into a tale that had me glancing at my own several times, hoping it was empty. April Genevieve Tucholke’s The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh takes you for a ride where you end up rooting against key characters. This is my first reading experience with this author and it won’t be my last.

There were several stories in this anthology which were so good at introducing intriguing characters and exciting storylines that I found myself wanting the authors to turn them into full-length novels. Jonathan Maberry’s Fat Girl with a Knife would make a perfect introduction to a novel about an unlikely heroine battling for survival.  Jay Kristoff’s Sleepless starts off like a cheesy horror-movie where you’re screaming at one of the characters to be smarter, but ends up pulling the rug out from under you and begging for more in the end.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is fantastic for those looking for a quick scare during this Halloween season. While ghosts and killers may be the obvious choice for a horror story, many of these authors select more unconventional characters and what results is a really diverse blend of frightful tales that will surely delight horror fans.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Title: The Young Elites
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.

Rating: 3/5

★★★