Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Book One of The Young Elites series
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publisher: October 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Wooaahhh. Marie Lu should write fantasy. I mean, her dystopia series, the Legend trilogy, was excellent, but this FANTASY NOVEL. I am seriously impressed. Not that you shouldn't be impressed anyway, because it's Marie Lu, and the woman a is really talented writer to begin with. 

Adelina murdered someone, and she will be burned on the stake for this. She is one of the malfetto, a survivor of the blood fever, with some sort of marking and strange abilities. Her marking is the scar where her left eye should be - the doctor cut her eye out to save her from the fever. Her abilities - she never found out, until she killed someone. Rescued by the Dagger Society, led by Enzo Valeciano, Adelina must decide if she wants to support this rebellion group, or help the Inquisitor, who has her younger sister.

The synopsis is super creepy, and super spot on. "It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt." That line is PERFECT. It totally fits this book to the T. Adelina is used and hurt. Her own father treats her like less than nothing, because she is a malfetto, imperfect, scarred. He physically hurts her, like breaking her finger, but he also mentally and emotionally hurts her. When Adelina is rescued by Enzo and the Dagger Society (other malfetto with abilities), she does everything she can to learn as much as possible.

And the others in the Dagger Society know this. Raffaele, a beautiful male courtesan, has the ability to sense malfetto energy, and he knows that she is powerful. He urges Enzo (the Dagger leader) to kill Adelina, because he knows that her power is dark and bitter. Raffaele and Adelina become friends, but Raffaele is truly afraid of Adelina. Of course Enzo doesn't kill Adelina. But perhaps he should have...

This book has a seriously dark tone to it. Adelina has a lot of hatred and darkness in her past - as do all of the Young Elites (malfetto with abilities), but she also has raw power and ambition. Enzo wants her to fight with the Dagger Society because she would be a huge asset. If she can hone her abilities. She can create illusions.

I like Adelina. She is twisted and selfless and dark and complex - there is a light and dark side to her, which sounds cliche, but it isn't. The character development of Adelina is excellent. Enzo is already a static character, so I don't see too much character development in him, but I definitely liked him. He reminded me of Rowan in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Enzo has a hard, steely quality to him, with no room for arguments or contradictions. The supporting characters, like Raffaele and Violetta, the Spider, the Windwalker... I love the set of characters that Lu has created. She is a master at character construction and development. 

There is romance in this novel, to an extent. It's not dominant or overwhelming, and honestly, it's quite strange, but it's there. So, for those of you that can't read a YA novel without romance, relax, there's romance in this book. For those of you who like it when the romance isn't the central part of the plot (like me), that's basically how this romance goes.

Lu's world-building is awesomeeee. I felt like I was living in Dalia, experiencing what Adelina was seeing or thinking or doing, etc. Lu is really good at describing a situation without boring readers, or setting up the scene without providing an info-dump. I love the imagery, especially! The Italian influence is awesome. The names, setting, masks, GONDOLAS... love the Italian influence.

This book is written in several points-of-view. Adelina's is in first person. Teren's (I did not mention him on purpose), Raffaele's, and Enzo's are in third person. This is a neat way to switch up things. It keeps you on your toes, so you must follow which character's perspective it is.

To round it all off... the ending was INSANE. Upon finishing the novel, I mentioned on Goodreads that I knocked a star off for one specific aspect of the ending. Trust me, you'll know what I mean. I'm not happy with this one aspect, but I suppose it's an excellent hook so that readers will keep reading. The cliffhangers... they kill me! 

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said before, one specific aspect of the ending knocked this book down to four stars. It was well on its way to five stars until that ONE BIT. But it's an excellent hook. I loved this book and was already extremely excited to read the second book anyway, but even if I had hated this book... I would have wanted to know what happens next. I wonder how Lu will salvage this situation...

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! Totally! Fantasy fan or not, you'll want to catch this one. Marie Lu is an excellent writer, and her books totally live up to the hype. She has a penchant for horribly twisted endings though, so watch out. 


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I cannot wait to read book two! I want to see more from the romance (hehe), and more from the "big picture", the overarching series plot. Here's hoping it'll be even more epic than book one!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. Amazing review Alyssa :D I'm so glad you loved this book. <3 Sigh. I'm just dying to read it. Have been dying for ages, lol. SO EXCITED :D But omg. Ending is bad? Nooo. Now I am worried. Hope I will love it too :)

    1. Thank you!! I wouldn't say the ending is "bad", but a little surprising and worrisome. Hopefully book two resolves things... cliffhangers suck, yo!

      I hope you love this one, Carina!

  2. Wow, this book sounds fantastic, but now I am scared about a horrible cliffhanger, and you know I haaaaate cliffhangerssss!!
    Fantastic review, Alyssa!

    1. NO JOKE THOUGH. I hate cliffhangers about as much as I hate love triangles. And this cliffhanger is brutal O_O However, it is a fabulous book!!

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    1. YAYAYAY!! I remember!! Lu definitely knows how to construct a fantastic story, world, characters, etc. You'll really enjoy this one, Roy, I'm sure of it!

      Thank you very much ^_^

  4. I was so curious to see what you thought of this book! I'm glad that Marie Lu can stray from dystopian so well and I am most definitely the type of person that prefers a book where the romance is not the central part of the plot...Don't get me wrong, I love the romance, but it's not all about falling in love all the time, yeah?? Excellent review. I'll definitely be checking this one out!

    1. I'm the same way! Unless it's contemporary romance, I like more of a story than a romance-based story.

      Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy this one when you read it, Rachel!!

  5. I cannot wait to read this one! I never read her Legend series (my co-blogger loves it!) It sounds like a winner and as you know, I love fantasy :)

    1. Definitely start with this series, especially since I know you love fantasy, lady!!

  6. I just skimmed this since I've started reading it myself. I keep pushing it aside to finish September books but I want to continue reading it so badly! I loved the small portion I've read. Happy to see you liked it!

    1. Totally fine with me! And yuppp, I just finished my September ARC/eARC reviews on Sunday (with As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre). It's almost a relief, but then there are like a billion October releases as well...

      Thank you, Kristen!!

  7. I totally agree that Enzo is a Rowan-type character!

    1. :) Have you read The Rose Society yet? Happy reading! Or, not-so-happy reading... ;D


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