Review–The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
by Marie Lu
Summary: 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.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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The Young Elites was awesome. I did enjoy the book quite a bit and there’s no doubt it was a well written and amazing book. At the same time, Adelina Amouteru made me want to claw my eyes out. Here is this “strong” and dark character who is full of nothing but potential, finally included in something and given the opportunity to be MORE than who she could be and she decides to be dumb and terrible, while simultaneously being badass and awesome. I wanted to slap her so many times.

Adelina’s entire issue with the world is cruelty and lack of acceptance. Her father treated her terribly, the world looked down upon her because she was malfetto, and she never belonged anywhere. In contrast, she got to watch her sister get the attention, the love, and the opportunities that would never belong to her. So when her powers made themselves known and the Dagger Society of Young Elites rescued her from her execution, I expected more from her character. Instead, she chose to keep herself separate and be untrusting of them in general.

Adelina could have come clean with the Dagger Society about the Lead Inquisitor’s blackmail and they could have come up with a plan together and she could have used that opportunity to include herself in their world. And as I’m saying this, I realize it sounds like maybe I’m mad about the end or the lives lost due to the miscommunication, but I was shouting at Adelina from day one, when Teren took her aside and threatened the life of her sister. She chose to further separate herself from the Elites and basically spy as terribly as she could so she wasn’t being super horrible to the people who took her in. What kind of decision is that? Why wouldn’t she use the opportunity to give the Elites information and be useful and therefore allow herself to be included in the plans? Maybe I just didn't think Teren would actually hurt her sister. Maybe I don't think he's as bad as he seems? I JUST DON'T KNOW.
Honestly, I’m shocked by how many reviewers put Adelina in the strong category. To me, she was weak and cowardly, using her fears and well intentioned selfishness to destroy everything. I realize that she struggled with her power, but it’s her fault no one in the Dagger society trusted her. They had good reason. I’m hoping that she’ll turn into the villain somehow, but I don’t know if I would buy that because so many of her actions are based on terrible decision making with somewhat good intentions and that’s not really ingredients for a badass villain, either. Maybe she's just growing up and I need to just wait for the other books before forming an opinion.

Aside from Adelina’s character, I really liked The Young Elites. It was an intriguing concept with a ton of dark elements and power. I will continue the story and I’m hoping that Adelina will redeem herself in some way. I wouldn’t care if she was the hero or the villian, so long as she develops a better decision making process for her life.

The Young Elites was a unique fantasy world. I liked how the people with powers were also people that were looked down upon for surviving a sickness and becoming disfigured in some way. I thought the way the society was set up left a ton of room for conflict and I could see how the tensions got to be as bad as they were. I highly recommend the book because Marie Lu certainly delivered a well written fantasy that wasn’t predictable at all. I thought it was a huge step up from her Legend series. I wish she could have made a heroine who wasn’t TSTL so often, but I know that’s a lot to ask for in YA fiction, so I am trying not to fault the series for it. And also, I'm kind of hoping that this will be story about how not everything is black and white. I think the Lead Inquisitor will redeem himself and not be the villain, and I think perhaps it will take a character like Adelina, who will dabble in darkness, in order to understand that things aren't clear and not all actions are good or evil.

Despite my issues with the book, I feel so many strong opinions and emotions about the events and the characters. I love it when books challenge me like this and make me love and hate them at the same time, so I'm eager for the sequel to see how the story will evolve.


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