{Review Redux} THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu

The final book in The Young Elites trilogy came out last month and let me tell you--I was counting down the days. And you know what? It was SO good. So, so good. Beyond what I imagined it could be.

I'm still formulating thoughts for how I want to talk about it, so in the meantime, I'm brushing off last year's review for those of you who never read the series...because you really, really should!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

  I'M GOING TO DIE tomorrow morning.
  That's what the Inquisitors tell me, anyway, when they visit my cell. I've been in here for weeks--I know this only because I've been counting the number of times my meals come.
  One day. Two days.
  Four days. A week.
  Two weeks.
  I stopped counting after that. The hours run together, an endless train of nothingness, filled with different slants of light and the shiver of cold, wet stone, the pieces of my sanity, the disjointed whispers of my thoughts.
  But tomorrow, my time ends. They're going to burn me at the stake in the central market square, for all to see. The Inquisitors tell me a crowd has already begun to gather outside. 

(page 1, US hardcover edition)

This review was first posted at A Backwards Story on September 18, 2015.

“I am Adelina Amouteru... I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.”
~Adelina Amouteru, THE YOUNG ELITES

I've been a fan of Marie Lu ever since I read an ARC of her debut novel LEGEND a few years ago back when dystopian was the be all and end all of YA fantasy. But now the tides are turning and fantasy is darker, weightier, full of magic and political intrigue and wars of a different sort. THE YOUNG ELITES is the first book in a new trilogy from Lu, and it's the best thing she's written to date. Told from multiple perspectives in a fashion recently made popular again by fantasy mega-hit series such as George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones and Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass, a new world of magic and deceit has come into being. Even better? The main story revolves around Adelina Amouteru, an antihero who just may be the villain of the story. She wants to be good, but she has so much darkness inhabiting her body. How did Elphaba turn in Gregory Maguire's WICKED? How did Dr. Horrible become truly evil and soulless in Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? By the end of THE YOUNG ELITES, you won't know if you're rooting for Adelina to be the hero or the villain of her own story. Luckily, the rest of the series is now available, so readers will have all the answers soon.

Adelina Amouteru was one of the children who survived the fever and was marked, a malfetto. In her kingdom, the malfetto are considered dangerous because many of they exhibit special powers. A group of them band together as The Young Elites, and society talks about them in terrified whispers. The night Adelina discovers she has dark, twisted powers, she accidentally murders her father with them. She's taken in by the Inquisitors and set to be executed, but at the last minute, is saved by The Young Elites. She must now decide if she wants to learn to control her powers and help the malfetto Crown Prince in hiding take back his throne, or betray her new friends to the Inquisitors in order to save her younger sister.

I love that there are so many gray lines in this novel. What is good? What is evil? Which is Adelina? I love that we're left to figure that out, and think it's a huge highlight of the series. I also love the perspective switches that get us into the heads of other characters, even the evil Teren, a villain who didn't have to be one. It's amazing to see the way our upbringing can twist and change characters such as Teren and Adelina and turn them into something they might not have otherwise become. I really enjoyed the way Lu pokes at such things and makes readers think in new ways. She also isn't afraid to mold the story in ways no one could anticipate and keeps readers on their toes. The minute I finished this one, I was immediately ready for the sequel. Luckily, you won't have to wait long: the final book in the trilogy, THE MIDNIGHT STAR, just came out, so you can binge this fantastic series in one greedy gulp!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( intense kissing scenes; some innuendo )
Language:  PG ( I saw a couple of words in there, but nothing too major, mostly "damn." )
Violence: PG13 ( Depiction of murder; deaths from an uprising. Most scenes aren't graphic or described, but there was a scene with torture that squicked me out a bit )
Other:  PG13 ( Innuendo because one of the Young Elites is a consort, but nothing is ever explicitly described )
C O V E R   D E S I G N: 

I was attracted to this cover the moment I saw it. Put a sword on the cover and I'll want to know more! 

I also like the atmosphere of the book: Stormy clouds and darkness.

This is fantasy, and it isn't clean and pretty. The cover depicts this well!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers // Penguin
Received: Purchased

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.