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.
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Young Elites, #1
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Younger Readers
Let me just start off by saying that I wanted nothing more than to love this book. I’ve seen it all over the place for years, and it’s been sitting on my shelf calling me for the past few months. I even mentioned it in my post about the top five series I was most excited to read this year. Also, as somebody that doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands, the mere fact that I bought this book knowing I would have to wait until my July break to read it says a lot.
I mean, come on. A high fantasy book about a mutant breed of humans that are essentially superheroes? Yes please. But a high fantasy mutant-superhero book intertwined with a villain’s origin story? Literally all I’ve ever wanted in my life. Sign me up for ten copies.
And yet I couldn’t help but feel monumentally disappointed before I even hit the halfway mark. Where I’d been promised a dark and dangerous demise of a badass soon-to-be villain, I got a flimsy plotline littered with tropes. Where I’d expected a complex, charismatic protagonist, I got a whiny, immature little girl whose frankly dim-witted nature and inability to reason pushed her into way more trouble than the flickering shadows inside her ever could.
I can’t pin my disappointment entirely on Adelina’s failures as a protagonist to engage me with her story and make me feel even a slither of sympathy for her. Actually, yes I can. The entire point of providing a villain with an origin story is to complicate the positioning of the readers. We’re supposed to empathize with the villain, even if we don’t completely understand all of her decisions or her descent into darkness. But in this case, I was hardly even aware that Adelina was supposed to be the emerging villain of the story. By nature, villains are (or rather, villains should be) fascinating, convoluted characters. The only depth to Adelina’s character was her temper, which was more irritating than it was entertaining.
Moreover, for such a highly acclaimed author, Marie Lu’s writing style throughout The Young Elites just wasn’t cutting it for me. I couldn’t pinpoint a specific instance when I felt that she was writing badly, but it was undeniably bland at its worst and simply mediocre at its best. Her world building and pacing, however, were impressive.
Overall, The Young Elites wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was far from the best. Its protagonist, Adelina, is in dire need of a serum that could jumpstart her personality, or at the very least enable her to use her brain. But for those looking for an interesting take on high fantasy, one that blurs and often erases the lines between good and evil, it’s worth a try. Just don’t make my mistake and get your hopes up too much.
Recommended to: People who thought Loki should’ve been nicer to the Avengers.
The Last Word
This book has inspired a rant on villains and origin stories, which I’ll link here if I ever decide to haul myself out of my writing slump and do something about the state of my blog.