Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin imprint)
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.
The Young Elites is darkly magical, mysterious, and extremely dangerous. This is a book all about heroes and villains, about what pushes them, destroys them, what turns them into heroes and villains, and the actions they take in order to reach their goals.
Adelina. Teren. Enzo. Each of the Young Elites have a past, a dark past, filled with dark secrets and fueled by dark and dangerous motives. All have been hurt, shunned, beaten down. Those pasts have formed them into the people we meet here. The one-eyed girl hated by her father. The young Inquisitor hunting down those with dangerous abilities. The leader of the rebellion who tries to save lives while fighting back. The three of them coming together, meeting, is what sets off what is sure to be an even more deadly and dangerous trilogy.
I found the title to be an intriguing contradiction. In no way are those who were affected by the blood fever 'the young elites.' If they were, people would revere them, worship them, lavish them with praise and gold and jewels. Instead, they are feared, reviled, hated. Murdered. It's very much a name that they've come up with for themselves. They have impossible abilities. Dangerous abilities. They are the elite. They should be in control.
In some ways, Adelina's story is all about fear. What does fear to do us? What does fear create in us? What does fear turn us into? What if we embrace our fear, let it fuel us? Do we stay the same, or do we become different people? In the end, what does Adelina become? Will the darkness take hold of her and refuse to let go?
I found this story to be compelling and deadly. Adelina's part certainly feels like the main story, there are more chapters told from her point of view, but the other chapters do give the impression that there's more going on that just her journey. There's more than one story, more than one plot to change the world as they know it, and more than a few unspoken secrets circling. After I read this I read that Marie wanted to focus on what makes a villain and what makes a hero with this book/trilogy, what makes someone fall to the dark side. How intriguing. After reading the book and knowing that, I'm greatly anticipating the next two books, curious as to how far into heroism and villainy certain characters will fall.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Canada.)