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.
I fell in love with Marie Lu’s fast-paced and thrilling writing style in the Legend trilogy. So when I heard she was writing a new series from the point of view of a VILLAIN I was beyond excited. And when I finally got my hands on this novel, I was not disappointed.
The Young Elites is told mainly from our main character Adelina’s perspective, with chapters from Enzo and Teren inserted sporadically throughout. Adelina is a teenage girl with special powers due to the disease that sweeped her nation when she was a child. Because she is considered “damaged goods,” her dad agrees to sell her to a creepy married man who wants to use her as his whore. Having no desire to become an enslaved prostitute (surprising right?), Adelina runs away from home. Unfortunately, she is almost immediately captured by the royal Inquisition and sentenced to death. She is timely rescued by the Dagger Society, an elite sect of Young Elites (everyone with powers) that is actively trying to dismantle the corrupt monarchy. That’s where the story takes off and I don’t want to say anymore for fear of spoiling you!
I really liked this book. Really, really, really liked it. It was very unpredictable for me because I’ve read few to no books written from the POV of a villain. And what made this book even more intriguing and complex is that I didn’t always think Adelina was a villain. In fact, I wasn’t convinced until the very end. She’s suffered immense pain and abuse, and deep down she is incredibly wounded. She aspires to be good, despite her deficiencies. Like all humans, she has good and bad in her and her choices are what make her good or evil. It was absolutely fantastic to watch her character development (or should I say downward spiral) and she was like no other character I’d read before. I found her relatable and refreshing, and I really enjoyed her narration. Plus, she has an awesome name!
The other two POVs, Teren and Enzo, were excellent additions to the novel’s storyline because the reader gets to see each of their true motives that otherwise may have remained hidden. There are subplots, there’s mystery, there’s corruption and these male perspectives allow the reader to dig deeper into this world. Speaking of el mundo, the world-building in this novel was effective and well done. Another tidbit I’d like to throw in is that WHILE THE PREMISE MAY LEAD SOME READERS TO THINK THERE IS A LOVE TRIANGLE, THERE. IS. NOT. I REPEAT: THERE IS NOT. There is hardly any romance in this novel; it is mostly kick-ass and wonderfully evil. Adelina and Enzo do share some angst for each other but it is short-lived and I respected that. Also, there are several expected and several unexpected plot twists in this novel that will result in the following scenario: your book will be across the room because you threw it in shock, your tear ducts will kick into action, and you will have to bend over to pick your jaw up off the floor. Not that any of that happened to me…
Marie Lu really didn’t do anything by the books here. A young adult novel told from a rising female villain’s POV and two non-love interest male POVs with barely any romance and a storyline that deals with real life issues set in a dystopian fantasy world that contains TONS AND TONS OF PLOT TWISTS? I want more! In each character, Marie Lu shows us that every human has a mix of good and bad within them, no matter how they appear to be externally. Character development- or perhaps character “uncovering” is a more appropriate term- was huge. The characters are like onions and as you read, you peel them layer by layer. The plot of the book was also interesting; I’d say the story is led by individual characters but is also, to an extent, plot-driven.
I truly loved and admired The Young Elites. It was one of my favorite 2014 books and I anxiously await the release of its sequel! Hop on this bandwagon now… You’ll never look back!