Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Fantasy
Having read Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu, and those books having been so excellent, I was actually a bit wary about picking up The Young Elites. Basically, I thought the Legend trilogy was so good, Lu couldn’t possibly write something as good. I have been mistaken. The Young Elites is a book that I would pick up off the shelf at the book store, read the back, read the first few lines, and put it back, and this happened at least four or five times before I finally decided to pick it up and take it home with me; I have no regrets.
This book was definitely interesting, to say the least. I heard from a fellow reader that Lu had a different character planned as the main character for the novel, but when her publisher or agent (someone like that) read it, they pointed out Adelina as being more interesting and wanting to know more about her. This changed the entire course of the book, but try looking at it through the scope that Adelina is an antagonist, rather than a protagonist.
The main character is Adelina Amouteru, an aristocratic girl who caught the blood fever. Those who were affected and lived were mostly children (this is similar to and reminiscent of the plague). The children who survived ended up having some kind of marking, making them a malfetto, a person marked from the disease. These markings could be scars, strange eye or hair color, or any kind of otherwise strange markings on the body. Adelina’s mark is silver hair and a missing left eye.
Some of the malfettos have powers that arise in them. While some societies praise these abilities, others frown upon these abilities as demonic and not belonging to the Earthly realm. The ones who do have abilities are called Young Elites by the common people, hence the book title.
When Adelina’s ability to make illusions makes its presence known, she is sought by the leader of the Dagger Society, a group of Young Elites seeking to place their leader and prince, Enzo, back on the throne of Kenettra. They seek equality for all malfettos.
When Adelina begins to learn more about her power and how to use it, she also learns how good it feels to see and manipulate illusions based on other peoples fear. Similar to Anakin Skywalker, Adelina is the Darth Vader of this world, enjoying what she can do with her dark powers. She is not sure if she wants to be able to control herself, or just let go.
Of course there is a lot more going on in the novel than that. The prince, Enzo, has the power to manipulate flames, and a budding romance emerges between him and Adelina. He is also faced against his childhood friend and Inquisitor, Teren, who is secretly a malfetto as well, one who instantly heals when wounded, making him unkillable.
Will Enzo get his throne? Will Adelina stay sane enough to save the relationship she has built with the prince? The climax of the novel is intense and well written, and I am ready for book two in the series, The Rose Society.
Speaking of being well written, Lu once again amazes me with her control of the language in the story. Present actions are written in present tense, and past in past, and her segues in between are flawless. I had to go back a few times to check just where the shift was, but Lu is very conscious of what she is doing. I will never doubt any new series she sends our way in the future!