After reading her previous series and the synopsis of this book, I thought that Marie Lu’s newest work, The Young Elites, was going to completely blow me away. Much to my dismay, I was greatly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the book wasn’t absolutely horrible. It just didn’t live up to the expectations that I set for it since I loved her Legend series so much.
When she was young, a terrible blood fever spread all over the country, leaving some of the survivors marked with strange otherworldly powers and physical imperfections. These were called the malfetto and they were persecuted and killed when they showed signs of supernatural powers, and Adelina was one of the unlucky ones. Treated as an abomination for her entire life, she grew up estranged from her father and unmarked sister. One day, her father decides to sell her to a wealthy merchant, but she runs away before that can happen and accidently gets her father killed when her powers of illusion finally emerge for the first time and spook some horses. She is about to be burned at the stake when a group of malfettos, the Young Elites, saves her. This group opposes the government and seeks to create a world where malfettos can live in peace. Their leader just so happens to be the crown prince, and when they test Adelina for the powers that she aligns with, they are all dark and sinister. Meanwhile, she is haunted by the ghost of her father as her powers grow stronger and stronger, as do her dark alignments with them. Will Adelina be the hero of the story? Or will she end up being the villain instead?
So first let’s talk about the “heroine” Adelina. Honestly, she’s more like the anti-heroine. She was not the best-developed character I’ve ever seen, and she felt very two-dimensional. Her character was created with little emotion behind it, and it was quite obvious; I didn’t become attached to her in the slightest, nor did I really root for her, which is typically the type of reaction that a main character should evoke. I understand that this book is actually meant to portray the story of the villain, but it was extremely difficult to feel any empathy for her; she created all of her own problems and she was repetitive, complaining about situations nearly of her own creation. Honestly, the one of the only good things about this entire book was Raffaele. He was sweet, kind, and pretty much the only good person in this story. Another thing that was completely flat was the romance. She’s supposed to have a romance with the prince, and love him so dearly, yet it seemed shallow and completely superficial; it wasn’t a satisfying love story in the least. That is a good word to describe this book: unsatisfying.
That being said, there were also some very interesting aspects, like the different powers that each of the characters had. Some were a bit cliché, like the prince’s ability to control fire, but Adelina’s power of illusion was a more unique power that I don’t think I have ever read about in a book before (that is not to say they don’t exist, I just have never read any). The ending of the story also intrigued me, but not the part that dealt with the main character; it was the afterword that really interested me, the part that talked about an entirely different character. I found her far more interesting than the main and I only read about her for a few pages. So, she is the only reason that I will read the next book when it comes out, and I really hope that Marie Lu steps it up in this next one and blows me away!