The Young Elites by Marie Lu is a novel set in a different time and possibly different dimension. (It never states what dimension it is but they have 3 moons, so I assume it is different.) It follows Adelina, a girl struggling to live a life of a cursed one with special powers. The “blood fever,” an illness that swept through the land killing all adults and many children it touched. Most children that did not die became marked with physical deformities. And for a select group of children, the blood fever bestowed upon them special abilities. These children became know as the Young Elites. Adelina lost her eye to the fever and became the target of her abusive father’s tirades. Her younger sister survived the illness but remained un-marked. The darkness consuming Adelina feeds her powers but also sets off a chain of events that change her life forever. She is taken in by the Young Elites and strives to become an equal amongst them. The kingdom becomes increasingly fearful of all malfettos, marked children, and a battle between the kingdom’s army and the Young Elites escalates.
When I read the Legend series by Marie Lu, I was quite impressed. So I have been pretty anxious to begin her latest series, The Young Elites. I wish I could say that I am just as enthusiastic about this series, but I cannot. There are many things I did like about the series and overall, I do still rate it favorably. But it just did not resonate with me the same way that Legend did. The concept is pretty interesting albeit quite dark. Part of me is always torn when a book or movie invokes the harm of children. And this novel definitely does not shy away from the topic. I connected to Adelina, although I struggled to really be able to like her throughout the entire book. I had high hopes for her but she just did not make very good decisions. Many things that she dealt with could have been handled in a much more efficient way. I do cut her some slack since she had such a terrible upbringing which led to extreme self-esteem and trust issues.
In fact, I was conflicted in my opinion of all of the characters. Some are just completely unlikeable and evil. However, most are a mix. The lines between good and evil are blurred in this novel. Kudos to Lu for being able to write a story that is not cut and dry. Even though I was rooting for the Young Elites, I also could not help but acknowledge the carnage and destruction that they also created. Death is a common theme throughout this story. But each Young Elite is considered tainted and treated as “lower than a dog,” which means that you can’t help by sympathize with why they are the way they are and do the things they do.
I definitely do appreciate the world that Lu created. She did a great job of being descriptive enough to portray the scenery while still allowing the reader’s imagination to fill in the rest. She also touches on topics that many would deem taboo. Homosexuality, prostitution, death of children, and more are all addressed in this story. It was almost refreshing to find an author willing to step outside of the box and be controversial. Honestly, I could see this book being sold in the adult section due to certain themes and images. But in other ways such as the inner dialogue and actions of Adeline really highlight the book’s youthfulness.
Overall, I am looking forward to reading the next novel in the series, The Rose Society. Be sure to check back here next week for my review of it!
My SisterGeeks Shield Rating: 3.5 Shields
Have you read The Young Elites? What did you think? If you haven’t read it, do you plan to give it a shot?