Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Published: October, 2014
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.
Characterization and badassery
Adelina has some cool powers, and she definitely isn’t cursed with the wishy-washy nerves or hand-wringing that too many protagonists suffer when they lay down the law. It’s hard to say too much without spoilers, but her journey definitely includes badassery and some interesting development. The book flap describes her, along with the two male leads of the story, but really, it’s all about Adelina.
Plot and pacing
The pacing was good. No lags, no low points, no flabby bits that didn’t need to be there. The plot is straightforward and not particularly unique – a minority group of people with powers, who are being hunted down by the majority without powers (think X-Men). A non-unique plot is fine as long as the details are unique and the characters drive it all, and I think that’s the case here.
Prose and editing
Good. Professional. What you’d expect from a trade publisher. Yay.
Not really. Everyone’s a bit grim, although the overall tone of the book isn’t. So kudos to Marie Lu for managing to do 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.”
This book is one of those that starts out with a hook. The author knew exactly how to pull me straight into the story and pique my curiosity in a few short paragraphs. Well done. I like doing a book review on that kind of story. It’s a different sort of story, when you get to the end. I did not see where the story was going. I’m not sure I liked everything about where it did go, but I do like a story that offers something unexpected.
The world-build is excellent. There’s no hard drive to figure out what’s what, and no feeling of “But what’s that? Who? What?” while you’re trying to get up to speed. It’s all just effortless, incidental learning while you read about Adelina. The way world-building should be.
One minor quibble I have is that the ending isn’t a solid endpoint. It’s a lead-in to the next book that makes this book more of a serial installment. Some people like that sense of continuity. Personally, I like each entry in a series to have an individual plot arc, while maintaining connecting threads among the other books in the series. I like the payoff of a good ending, and I’d rather not wait through several books to finally get one.