Warning: If you have not read “The Young Elites” by Marie Lu, do not read this review if you wish to avoid spoilers. However, if you’ve read the book or you don’t mind spoilers, feel free to read this!
I’m back with another book review! This time, I’m taking a look at “The Young Elites” by Marie Lu. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“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.”
The worldbuilding for this book was incredibly impressive. The terminology used in this book such as malfetto (a term for those who were marked by the blood fever, essentially) was well-explained, and the way said worldbuilding impacted the characters’ situations was well written and nicely detailed. At the same time, however, none of it ever felt like info-dumping, which is really hard to pull off and yet the book managed it so well.
The characters were also well-written overall. Raffaele quickly became a favourite of mine for his gentle and wise personality, and I’m grateful that he survived the events of this book despite the danger he got thrown into. Adelina, the protagonist, was also well-written. She didn’t hesitate to defend herself when she needed to, and the sisterly relationship she has with Violetta was very sweet and truly caring, unlike what I’d seen in Caraval between sisters. Adelina does not go without her darker side, however—it’s obvious she has a sadistic streak to her, something that the other characters also notice other than the protagonist herself, and it affects her relationships with the others throughout the whole book.
Despite the strong protagonists, the main antagonist Teren was also well-developed. It’s obvious that he’s one the reader should love to hate and hate to love, given that his motivations for why he seeks to destroy all the malfettos despite being one himself are well explained. He’s cunning, clever, and despite early failures to take down the Dagger Society, he does actually outsmart the protagonists at the end of the book. This makes it both frustrating and really exciting to see what will happen next with Adelina and the surviving characters, given that Teren will be a tough opponent to defeat.
Enzo, one of the other characters in this book who is both Adelina’s love interest and a main character despite not having any chapters in his point of view, gets killed off by Teren late in the book. I was really surprised by that plot twist, given that he was decently written with Adelina and I thought he would survive because he was her love interest, like other books have done with their main pairings. Regarding Adelina and Enzo’s romance itself, I thought it was decently written. The way they got together felt a little too spontaneous, but after that they seemed okay, at least until Enzo actually died.
The plot itself was quite good, and the characters all seriously drove the plot. Some of the plot twists were also quite surprising, especially near the end of the book. I also like how the author made it clear that Adelina was the protagonist despite the changing point of views between Adelina, Teren and Raffaele by making only Adelina’s point of view in first person while Teren and Raffaele stayed in third person.
Overall, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars for the well-written characters, plot, and great worldbuiliding. I eagerly look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy once I get my hands on it!