The Young Elites (Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu (2014)
YA Fiction | Historical Fantasy | Villain’s Story
“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.” -Goodreads
pooled ink Review:
Alrighty so whilst I was taking a casual stroll about the internet I heard a little bird mention that The Young Elites is like a Darth Vader story (it might have been Leigh Bardugo but I won’t bet the farm on it). Anyhow, as I’m a definite Star Wars fan I had to check this book out. I looked it up on Goodreads, read the blurb, scrolled through a few reviews and while it was all drawing me in closer what really sunk its claws into me convincing me to part with some money meant for food was that little thought that this was supposedly a bit like a Darth Vader story…in other words it’s a story that shows how a villain is made. I was bought, processed, and sold.
I’ve mentioned before (most recently in my review of Josie Angelini’s Firewalker) how much I love to understand the how’s and why’s behind heroes and villains. So needless to say I was hesitantly bouncing off the walls with anticipation for this book. I am here to report that it did not disappoint. Is it Star Wars? No, but it’s still epic in its own right.
The whole set-up is vaguely familiar and definitely in the vain of popular YA fantasy stories. But then it stumbles and slips and slides and slithers until you realize that this is something else entirely.
Fair warning, this is not about a downtrodden lass who is saved by a suave but mysterious man whom then fall madly in love as they save the world. I mean it definitely could have been, it tried to be, it wanted to be. But the fates had something much darker planned and the fates will out.
Everyone has a touch of darkness somewhere inside of them and sometimes it is fed by the injustice in the world. All Adelina wanted was kindness without strings and yet that is a luxury that this bloody world cannot afford her as it teeters on the edge of war. We all want kindness without strings attached but sometimes we have to take it where we can find it and hope for more later. But sometimes that isn’t enough and poor Adelina has had enough of it. Her family used her, her enemies used her, her heroes used her, everyone has betrayed and shied away from her when she only ever tried to help and tip-toe through the tangled hoops of what is right. So fine. Everyone can go to Hell. But she’s going to do something and she’s not going to hide it with false kindness or righteousness.
Yoda knew it, Raffaele knows it, Elphaba understands it: Passion is burdened with fear and…
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” –Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
“You cannot love without fear. The two coexist. In you, your alignment with passion instead fed your fear and fury. It made you darker.” -Raffaele, The Young Elites
“Sure, I meant well – Well look at what well-meant did: All right, enough – so be it, then: Let all Oz be agreed I’m wicked through and through…” -Elphaba, “No Good Deed”, Wicked (the Musical)
Join up with The Young Elites, swear an oath, train, commit, fall into the pulse-racing lure of what Marie Lu has to offer. But if you’re seeking a sweet rosy-cheeked story of a sad girl coming into her own then be prepared to only get half of that. Adelina comes into her own but it won’t be sweet or rosy-cheeked. Not for long anyway.
Set in a world reminiscent of Europe in its renaissance era and filled with gods, powers, and royals The Young Elites will hold a blade at your throat and drag you through the blood of justice from page one to the end leaving you gasping for breath and terrified for what will come next but you’ll notice that you’re also hiding a grin because that little strand of darkness within you is actually hungry for the chaos that is brewing.
P.S. So in a way I definitely see the comparison to the basic Darth Vader story but gender-swapped (Adelina is Vader). Or (or perhaps and) Adelina is reminiscent of Elphaba from Wicked.
Purchase here: The Young Elites
Meet Marie Lu!
I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. 🙂
I graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.