I received this book as an ARC at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas (and it’s signed yay!). There is no synopsis on the back of the book, just praise for Lu’s other series: Legend (which I could also heap praise upon all day). So, here is my attempt on a synopsis. If you don’t like mine, you can look up the synopsis on Goodreads.
The Young Elites follows Adelina Amouteru through the fantasy world of Kenettra. It is years after a plague has passed. Those who survived the plague are usually marked by some physical flaw. They call these people malfettos. Adelina is a malfetto. This story follows her fleeing her home to end up in the clutches of The Young Elites, a group of young people with supernatural powers. There is a war being waged on the Elites as well as any malfetto within Kenettra. (I don’t know how to give you more without spoilers, so I’m going to leave it at this).
1. The main character is hard to like.
Adelina has a darkness swirling within her that has her toeing the line between good and evil. Throughout her narration, there is so much darkness, but also some good. She is a dark character with dark thoughts and a dark ability. She has a younger sister, Violetta, who she struggles to love. Adelina’s father was always cruel, but only to her. Violetta had a doting father who loved her and showed it. This darkness that lives within her father also lives within her, making it difficult for her to see anything good in anyone. She believes any kindness comes with strings attached – but is she wrong? She is amazing as a main character, because she is more like a real person than any YA heroine I’ve seen in awhile. She’s almost an anti-hero, and I always adore those.
2. The world building is fantastic! It is hard for me to get into fantasy, so this was amazing for me.
I don’t have problems with fantasy worlds in general. I have problems with fantasy worlds that don’t stay true to their own rules. Some fantasy worlds leave too much out or make their creatures or citizens transcend any rules set forth by the author when building their world. Since I fell in love with Marie Lu while reading her Legend series, I was hesitant about this since I know her as a dystopian story teller. But, she did it perfectly. Nothing was out of place and I was able to create this world in my own head.
3. There is no love triangle!
There are three main dudes in this book, and one of them is insanely evil. Two are close to Adelina. Those two close to her are super hunky, but there is only one that wins her. Rafaelle is a male prostitute within the court, but he is essential to the story and to Adelina’s training and success. Enzo is the leader of the Elites and he is super awesome. He’s difficult and stubborn when he needs to be, but he is also just a young man living in a scary, scary world. This was so refreshing for me, especially in a fantasy. As you know, I loathe love triangles in any literature, but especially YA because they are just too much and too overdone.
4. Marie Lu’s writing is so engrossing, it honestly made me forget where I was at some points.
As I said, I adored Lu’s Legend series. I was so engrossed in that, so I am so glad that her fantasy world was awesome. I knew she had it in her! Honestly, there were parts of this book that lagged. I was so unimpressed with Adelina about a third of the way through that I thought about mentally stabbing her. Then, she kind of redeemed herself to me. (I’m really trying not to give any spoilers, since this book has yet to be released). Just trust me on this: stick with it. Shit gets bananas and you will be so glad you did.
5. The ending ripped my heart out.
It is not often that I leak tears when I read books. However, this ending is so heart wrenching that it was just too much for my fragile emotions to handle at that moment. I finished this while I was at work, and it was just like the floodgates opened and I just couldn’t stop. It is not how you would expect anything to turn out (we’re not talking Allegiant style, but pretty close). The epilogue is so bad ass that I can’t even begin to describe it without telling you anything, so I’m just going to stop there.
6. This was social commentary on those who look different.
Even if it was unintentional, this book was a good social commentary on how our society values looks over everything. Adelina only has one eye because of the fever and her hair is silver. All of the Young Elites have physical deformities and they are hunted for them. Not all who are deformed have powers, but all who have powers are deformed (except for one). Our society is so caught up in looks and filters and angles and selfies that it is hard to imagine a world where almost half of the population walks around comfortable in their own skin with noticeable deformities. It is a glaring look at how our society fears what they do not know. Kenettra fears what they do not know, and they take steps to ensure they eliminate anyone who does not fit their standards of conformity. Sound like anyone else you know?
Overall: FOUR STARS!! I’m only taking a star away because of the bit of lagging (even though it was SO necessary for the story). I love Marie Lu, and she was so nice when I met her at her signing, so I am super glad I was able to read this and do this review for her. This book enters the world on October 7, 2014 so clicky clicky on the link to pre-order!