"Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”
Marie Lu’s "Legend" series is a series I read a little over a year ago and enjoyed very much. I was looking forward to reading another book by Lu and perked up even more when I heard that this book seems to be a little darker than the Legend series. To shorten this ramble: I loved this book! I love Lu’s writing style, I love her stories, and I love how she builds her characters.
"The Young Elites" is about “Adelina Amouteru [who] 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 Elite.” (Goodreads)
The cover fits the book quite well even though I find it boring. I enjoy a cover that shows more than just dark clouds and the title a little bit more but the dark and foreboding feeling, that the cover delivers, mirrors the mood of the book.
The story takes place in a world where malfettos are treated like the lowest of the lowest. Adelina is one of these malfettos. When the day of her execution comes she is saved by the Young Elites – other malfettos with strong gifts. I like this new world. The map looks really interesting and while the first book of this series takes place on an island, the very end of the book promises that the rest of the world is getting involved soon. The physical world that we get to experience in "The Young Elites" is not that fantastical. There are one or two aspects that are new but other than that it could be our world a few centuries back. The culture is different though. There are festivities and traditions and moral codes that have nothing to do with our reality.
Again I like Lu’s characters a lot. Marie Lu likes her main characters to be strong and smart and I love that, too. All the main characters are in some way extraordinary and none of them are whiny, naïve, little chicken. Adelina’s character has a very dark side caused by the physical and mental tortures she experienced as a child. I am fascinated by this inner darkness since it is logical. As a reader I could understand why she feels the need to hurt and destroy. At the same time Adelina is not a bad person. With another childhood she would never have a dark side at all. This inner battle between her natural goodness and experienced darkness leaves a lot of options how her character will develop.
The two male main characters Teren and Enzo are worthy counterparts. They are both strong-minded and powerful even though I got a little bit annoyed with Teren. He is so much under the control of the queen that I wanted to scream “Take off your rose-colored glasses!!!” the whole time. But that is good, too, right? A good book gets your emotion running.
My favorite character is actually Raffaele. This character is so complex and I love his relationship with Adelina. Their platonic friendship is so beautiful but also mirrors the main theme of the book: there is no good or bad, no black and white. Everyone is a little good and a little bad. I wished so bad for Adelina that for once she finds someone who does not disappoint her in some way but that seems impossible.
Marie Lu’s writing style is still easy to read. The pace is on the faster side without being too action-packed or rushed. It flows easily through the story.
"The Young Elites" met all my expectations and even more. It has a great premise, fascinating characters, interesting conflicts, and a promising outlook. I cannot wait for the next book. Marie Lu might become an auto-buy for me. She meets all my criteria for a good book. If you enjoyed the Legend series and do not mind a darker twist to the story this is an absolute must-read!