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.
Years ago, I tried to watch (and understand the appeal of) the show, The Sopranos. Everyone I knew was raving about it. I didn't have a subscription to HBO, so I had to wait until the DVDs came out. After watching it, I did like it, but I was not super enthusiastic about it. While I thought the story and the acting were brilliant, there was one basic truth to the characters that I couldn't get around: these were bad people! I feel the same way about the book The Young Elites. While I understand why she has such a black heart, I found it a challenge to root for the main character, Adelina.
What I Liked:Setting:
Although this is a fantasy world, it seems based on Renaissance Italy. From the names of the characters, to the food and rich clothing, the reader gets the sense that this is set in that time. There are sponsors to the Dagger Society, and a royal court system that seems like the city-state structure of Southern Europe. I loved all the details that brought this setting to life, especially the vivid horse racing scene. There is a real-life event in Siena, Italy that this may be based on.
Characters:In it's core, this is a story of abuse and how it affects each person differently. Some of the characters were easy to like, such as Enzo, Rafaele and Lucent. While they each had much tragedy in their lives, they still retained the ability to be kind. They also continued to be humble, despite their awesome powers.
I even liked Teren Santoro, the leader of the inquisition. Okay, liked is not exactly what I mean. What I mean to say is I appreciated how author, Marie Lu has grown as a writer.
One of my main complaints about her other book series, Legend, was that I felt the villain was two-dimensional. In this book we get to see exactly why Teren is motivated to exterminate all the Malfettos (those who survived the blood fever). His self-loathing is heartbreaking and terrifying.
What I Was Mixed About:Adelina:
Adelina's character was harder to embrace. Adelina had been horribly abused by her father. This caused her to hate and become actually excited by violence and fear (Apparently, her powers became stronger when this happened). The one thing anchoring Adelina to humanity was her younger sister, Violetta. Violetta was the one person she really cared about, but this was also her undoing. While I came to care about Adelina (particularly because of her love for her sister), I felt terrible for her and found it hard to see her embrace the darkness in her heart. I wanted to yell at her to stop her own abusive tendencies.
It was also hard to see if she really cared for Enzo, or if she really just wanted to use him (as perhaps he was using her, too). Again, I am conflicted about this. Why did this bother me so much in the female character but not as much in the male character? I can't really say. I think it may have to do with motivation. As a leader, Enzo did have to make many tough decisions in order to follow through with his plans to become the king. With Adelina, I felt that she just had a wish for personal power, not a wish to govern for the benefit of others (as I think Enzo did).
This was a very good start to a series that is well worth your reading time.
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Public Library
Format: Audio Book
Recommendation: An entertaining book with imaginative world-building. If you like Fantasy, you will probably love this.