The Rose Society (Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu (2015)
YA Fiction | Historical Fantasy | Villain’s Story
“Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.
Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.
But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?”
Book One: THE YOUNG ELITES
pooled ink Review:
I would just like to take a moment to high-five The Rose Society on kicking dust in the face of MBS (Middle Book Syndrome) and totally rocking my life.
Marie Lu has only fed and grown my insatiable intrigue for villains. I’ll always cheer on the heroes, obviously, but a part of me yearns to understand the villains. If I’ve said this before I’ve said it a hundred times. Good versus Evil doesn’t exist, at least not that simply. It’s not a divide but rather something closer to a Venn diagram perhaps. Obviously there are sick and twisted super evil people out there but I don’t believe they were born that way. I believe people are born a blank slate, a Tabula Rasa as the Greeks would say. So yeah, I’m fascinated by a good story that unravels and taps into the transformation of a character for better or for worse.
Anyway, back to the book.
Adelina’s character continues to progress in more ways than one. You are constantly tossed about and torn between cheering her on and wagging your finger disapprovingly. She’s a wounded girl plagued by cruelty, chance, and injustice. Does this excuse her tactics and path down the dark side? No. I cheer her on as she learns to stand on her own two feet and go after what she wants but that’s where things get sticky. Sometimes her tactics are cruel and brutish. I cringe and silence my cheers.
The key to this series, in my opinion, is the stark truth that there are no clear-cut heroes.
It would be far more difficult to sway a reader into sympathizing with President Snow as opposed to Katniss. It wouldn’t work. That’s why The Hunger Games is a hero’s story and not a villain’s, unlike The Young Elites.
In The Young Elites trilogy you see how Adelina evolves into a “villain” but you’re also exposed to the reality of the “heroes.” Both sides have ultimately the same goal: fair/equal treatment of the malfettos. And in fact both take rather violet actions to secure this goal (although that’s not surprising considering it’s all but war…at first).
The Daggers only save the elite malfettos, they burn supplies, they murder Inquisitors, all as they plot to assassinate the King and Queen. They’re not all loving teddy bears. They’re trained and lethal warriors hell-bent on getting Prince Enzo on the throne and they are willing to allow Kenettra to be conquered by Beldain to do so.
The Roses try to save all malfettos, they burn ships, they murder Inquisitors and Beldish soldiers, and of course they plot to assassinate the Queen. They do perhaps have more selfish motivators on the side: treasure, power, etc. But their main goal remains the same: eradicate the injustice against malfettos. (Besides don’t even try to deny that Beldain isn’t largely seeking power and opportunity more than justice).
So who is right? Why are they fighting? Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys? In the end, how much does it really matter? (Once you’ve read to the end of the book you’ll get what I’m saying. Hint: they’re all strapped to a ticking clock). This isn’t a battle of Good versus Evil after all. No this is a clash of enemies.
This book is filled with action, difficult choices, fierce determination, blood, sweat, and tears.
One thing I didn’t agree with, and which I think the rest of the characters are beginning to see as well, is raising people from the dead. It’s just never a good idea.
Other than that I love the new characters introduced, I love the evolving turmoil within Adelina and the others, I love the revelation Violetta discovers at the end which Adelina refuses to believe – I’m endlessly intrigued to see how this will affect what happens next. The whole book spurs you on a stormy unpredictable sea of events. You can never see too far ahead through the thick sheets of rain.
I don’t know what lucky stick smacked Marie Lu but she found a goldmine of a story. The Young Elites whets your appetite and The Rose Society leaves you ravenous for more. I can’t even begin to guess at what will occur in the series conclusion.
One more thing, it kills me (in a good way) when a book can end with a killer ending line or moment. You know, when you’re reading, reading, reading, then BOOM. YES. That last line leaves you breathless and jittery for more. Well thank you Marie Lu for clearly having a gift for this. Her endings really speak volumes about where Adelina is at in her life simultaneously reflecting on all she has endured and foreshadowing to her path ahead. It’s awesome and I was particularly struck by the ending of this book. (I’ll add it to the bottom of the review in case you don’t want to read it before you read the book…because you will read the book.)
The Rose Society grabs you roughly by the collar dragging you along on a request for revenge. Either join forces or be tossed aside and left for dead on this whirlwind of chaos, bloodshed, heartbreak, and fight for justice. Tickling your dark side and teasing your light this book will haunt you with an insatiable craving for the trilogy’s epic conclusion. I can’t wait.
Purchase here: The Rose Society
Check out the rest of the series: The Young Elites (Young Elites #1) and The Midnight Star (Young Elites #3)
SPOILER ALERT – “Book Endings”
The Young Elites:
“Neither of us speaks.
Tomorrow morning I will lead us out of Estenzia. I will find others like ourselves. I will turn against Teren with such fury that he will beg for forgiveness. Tomorrow, I will take on all of these things. I will be unstoppable.
But tonight, we stay where we are, holding on, lost in the dark.”
The Rose Society:
“This is what I have fought so hard for, what I sacrificed and bled so much for. This is everything I ever wanted – revenge against my enemies for what they’ve done to me. And I’ve achieved it. My revenge is complete.
I force a smile onto my face. In the silence, I sit alone on my throne and wait eagerly for all the satisfaction and triumph to hit me. I wait, and wait, and wait.
But it doesn’t come.”