The Young Elites by Marie Lu
★★★ — 55%
Hahahahah WHAT WAS THIS.
If I wanted a book about a bitter, sadistic, traumatized Revenge Chick, a bitter, less-obviously freaky, just-as-traumatized Revenge Dude, and a REALLY OBVIOUSLY VENGEFUL Dude 2, I probably would’ve been climbing bookcases to get to this book but I would also probably need counseling and a really good doctor/psychiatrist/general HELP.
Oh, and also my favorite character was MURDERED, but as long as I don’t name names, that’s not a spoiler, right????
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.
“So. Tell me, little wolf. Do you want to punish those who have wronged you?”
These characters were some of the strangest I’ve ever read about. I wanted to hug them and run them through with a knife. They felt more like villains than heroes, which is totally cool, but??? S T R A N G E ??? Adelina’s mind wasn’t and isn’t a fun place to be, and reading from her perspective felt troubling. Anyway. Even though the characters were high-key wEIRD, they were still well drawn. Unfortunately, their development was no less weird. Innocent girl → let’s suck dad’s blood!!! Murder!! Fun!! I’m thinking what you’re thinking. The side characters were less murderous, though, so good for them. (They didn’t have personality either, come to think of it??)
The world-building was done well, though not brilliantly. I enjoyed the Venetian feel and all the Italian sounding names (have you ever read bloody, Italian fantasy??? Neither had I) but I wish it could’ve been explored more. So much could’ve been done with the culture. I want poisonous pasta and secret-spy gondola singers. (Jk this is why I don’t write books.) The plot was super cool and wacky, though, and I was reluctantly glued to the story like the weakling I am.
I’m a fan of the overarching concept in The Young Elites, but I don’t know how much longer I can take these characters. [nervous laughter, stage right] Let me hide until I can find an excuse to recommend it or burn it.
Language: Infrequent cursing (one or two uses of d—n, h—l, and b—t—d).
Violence: Murder Girl murders and so does Murder Boy 2 and pretty much anyone with a personal vendetta. Action scenes aren’t overly descriptive, though, so don’t worry.
Sensuality: One make-out scene and InnuendoOoooo. Also, some characters who are employed in a trade that’s not entirely legal and shouldn’t be, though details are (thankfully) never given. NO SWEATING TODAY, FOLKS.
Substances: Some drinking.