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.
Somewhat Italian in flavor, the Young Elites was a delightfully different experience. I was pleased with the structure and outcome of the story, mostly due to continual surprises that Lu threw at unsuspecting readers. Perhaps not all of the plot twists should have been so surprising, given that the title of the sequel is the Rose Society and early on Adelina joins the Dagger Society. Clearly a paradigm shift of some sort was going to occur, though whether or not it would involve the same set of characters present in the Young Elites was still undetermined.
Marie Lu’s development of Adelina Amouteru was brilliantly executed. She is a surprisingly dark and flawed main character, which I think is atypical for a Young Adult genre book. Like most YA heroines she is strong of will, but she has a cruel nature about her that makes Adelina unique among her fictional peers. Lu is almost bridging a gap between stories saturated with teenage love triangles and a more mature, well-developed, and darker class of novels. As someone who stopped reading YA for a very long time because it became predictable and disappointing, I can appreciate this transition into something more mature.
I definitely appreciated the unsuspected twist in the trajectory of the story in the last quarter of the book. I was utterly surprised, though I could immediately see where the story would likely lead. I do look forward to seeing how exactly the plot will play out in the Rose Society, which will be released in October.