Review: The Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu
Publication Date: October 7 2014
Pages: 355
Source: Library ebook

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'm surprised Marie Lu's latest hasn't received that much fanfare because I thought it was great. The story was entertaining with so many nice aspects to it, and the overall plot was engrossing. Marie Lu wrote a story that is full of potential to be great, and I'm really happy with it.

I would categorize The Young Elites as light fantasy. It doesn't have the details some other fantasies might have, but one does get the impression Lu has spectacular ideas planned and this world will eventually be explored. Still, it has little background yet this does not bother me much because I so enjoyed the characters.

I love Adelina. Adelina is scarred after a fever when she was younger and she was raised by a monster: her father. Adelina's father is cruel and sees his daughter as a commodity he often attempts to sell and use. He's abusive and Adelina suffers from the trauma of her past. Her only other remaining relative is her sister, Violetta, whom she loves and hates. Violetta is not scarred. She is beautiful and doted upon by her father. It leaves Adelina jealous and angry, but in that complex sibling way where the darker emotions are mixed with love.

Adelina has a rough life. She is treated as deficient because of her lack of an eye and the scars, and she is known as a malfetto, which are considered demonic children by the common folk. My heart broke for Adelina because she so clearly craved some sort of unconditional love and companionship, and she was isolated for various reasons. Adelina makes her mistakes and does terrible things. She loses control of herself and she's truly no saint, but I couldn't help but love her and root for her, all the same. I want to know more about Adelina and her story. I think her voice is compelling and the internal conflict she possesses with her powers are definitely intriguing. This sort of story always appeals to me.

Now, my second favourite character is Enzo and I adore him. I adored him from the first scene, and loved him more in every single scene that followed. He is ambitious, he is vicious, he is ruthless. He is wholly committed to his mission and I guess I have always appreciated this kind of ambition. It's intense, and exciting, because you just know this kind of character is morally ambiguous. And The Young Elites should really be renamed, "The Elite Young and Gorgeous Morally Ambiguous Yet Lovable Characters". Because alllll the moral ambiguity! YAY! Now, back to Enzo. In reality, Enzo is a mystery. He does not actually reveal too much about himself, and yet I was totally excited whenever he showed up in a scene. He's just so charismatic and his relationship with Adelina is fascinating. He is instrumental to her knowledge of her powers, and I can't wait to see the consequences of their relationship as the series progresses.

All of the powers of the Young Elites were fun and cool. The Dagger society members weren't all incredibly fleshed out, because this really was Adelina's story, but they were fascinating. I think there are definite improvements Marie Lu could make to this book by developing more than just a few characters. Even in the Legend series, I felt like we knew all about June and Day, but everyone else was fuzzy. For this kind of story, I'd like to know more about the other characters and more about the world. Right now, the world does seem a bit flat. I mean, there are Inquisitors that hate the malfetto and there is some sort of explanation about this, but it's a little too simple. Learning more about the other Daggers and the other Elites is something I'm looking for in future reads.

Something I was really happy about were the little unique spins in Lu's story. For example, Adelina and her sister have olive skin and dark hair. As someone that is not white, this was so awesome. I remember every single olive-skinned person I read about because it's like, yay representation in YA, especially by deliciously dark characters like Adelina. Further, Adelina and her sister's relationship stood on its own. Their relationship does have issues, but they care for each other and I love seeing that. It's almost a Cruel Beauty-ish relationship! By virtue of having a sibling, I'm a huge fan of siblings and reading about their complex relationships in YA. Marie Lu, in general, writes really diverse stories and it's like a breath of fresh air.

In general, I was enthralled by this story. I read it at midnight and woke up and finished it the next day. I remember staying awake and thinking about Adelina and her story. This morning, I was still thinking about certain twists in the story (this review is not very spoilery because if it was, I would be freaking out and dead right now) and contemplating possible future plot points. I don't think technically, this was a perfect read. Still, the story just appealed to me so immensely and I thought it was so much fun. The ending was pretty explosive too, and I am desperately, hungrily, deeply craving The Rose Society. This series has monster potential and I'm just really happy that Marie Lu seems to be writing the kind of dark story I've always loved.


  1. I felt like something was lacking for me. I loved the Legend series and had such high hopes for this one. I am still going to read the rest of the series.
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. I know a lot of people felt this way (like my co-blogger), but for me it just worked. I hope the sequqles appeal more to you.


  2. This sounds like a good book, I may have to add it to be TBR!

  3. Great review! I loved this book and I immediately pre-ordered the sequel when I finished it. I love nearly everything about it but my favorite part was the darkness in Adelina. She's the protagonist and also the hero, of a sort, but she's definitely got a dark side. She could go either way by the end of the story and that was really intriguing.

    Vicarious Caytastrophe

    1. I'm starting to think we may have very similar taste because I loved that too! Adelina was someone I was totally cheering for, and yet I felt like she was on the brink of being totally evil. I love that conflict and I'm curious to see where Marie Lu will take it. (And (REALLY BIG SPOILER ALERT******) I can't believe she killed Enzo. Like, my heart broke.)



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