The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites Marie Lu
The Young Elites Marie Lu cover

Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #1
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever, marked by a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Branded as a malfetto – an abomination – she is cast out from all she has ever known and loved. Adelina finds sanctuary with other malfettos and discovers that the disease has left her with more than just a scar – she has a mysterious and powerful gift. She is a Young Elite. But Adelina’s ability is stronger than any Young Elite before her. Unless she can control the vengeful darkness growing in her heart, Adelina could be a danger to them all.

I read this book while I was on a trip in London. Maybe not the best time to read a book like this, because I was never alone and I mostly read in public places. So I couldn’t really deal with my emotions the way I would have wanted to. And there were emotions. Oh my, the feels.

Be true to yourself. But that’s something everyone says and no one means. No one wants you to be yourself. They want you to be the version of yourself that they like.

I think it’s fair to say I have never felt so much sympathy for such a deeply unsympathetic character. Adelina is messed up. There’s really no other way to put it. She’s been hated and used by her father for her entire life, just for being a marked survivor of the blood fever, a malfetto. She’s always been a disgrace to her family. This has made her the distrusting, introverted, scarred, but most of all the angry person she is today. There is a lot of darkness in her heart. It is consumed by anger and pain. She tries not to let herself feel hurt, she fends it all off with vengeance. Adelina is strong. Her power is huge and almost beyond control, but all she really wants, is to feel acknowledged and to feel loved. Under all of the rage, there’s fear. Fear that runs so deeply it only fuels her anger more. She’s afraid to be cast aside, to be left out, to fail. So when she feels she’s being used, again and again, she doesn’t give herself the chance to feel bad about it. She sets out to destroy everything and everyone that gets in her way. And although this probably sounds terrible, I understood why she acted this way. She’s not actually evil. I usually didn’t agree with the way she chose to resolve her problems, but I truly couldn’t blame her.

The only way to clamp down on my energy is to erase my emotions, and so I fold them each away, one by one. My sorrow turns to anger, then to ice-cold fury. My soul curls in one itself in defense. I am gone. I am truly gone. I am not sorry. I am Adelina Amouteru. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again. I am tired of being used, hurt and cast aside. It’s my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I enjoyed the other characters in this book almost equally although none of them (with the exception of Violetta, Adelina’s sister) were entirely good either. This is a grey world. This is a world of anti-heroes, cast out people, fighting for their right to live. I enjoyed Raffaele immensely and I really cared about Enzo. Aside from Adelina, they were definitely my favourites. Partly, but not mainly, because they were the most broken ones. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but their darkness, ambition and pain was very compelling.

There is romance in this book, but it’s not the main theme, which is how I like this kind of book best. It felt real and passionate and I liked the way Adelina handled it. And I wish, oh god, I just wish…

Passion is bright and warm... But passion has a dark side too. It links with fear. Our hearts fill with terror at the thought of harm coming to our loved ones, don't they?

The ending was terrifying, hurtful and pretty damn brilliant. Marie Lu is not afraid to do what needs to be done. I can’t really say too much about it, because I would give away more than I should, but let’s say Adelina’s emotions may have pushed her too far. Oh, the pain.

This book had its flaws, it wasn’t entirely perfect. Some things were hurried, some maybe a bit obvious and I couldn’t help but feel this book could have been even more. In the middle there was definitely some room for an extra layer. I also didn’t really like the Italian words like e.g. "malfetto". But despite these remarks, I felt so much love for this book that I had no choice but to give it a five star ranking.

Marie Lu is my new heroine. I loved her Legend series and this has the potential to become just as good. I hereby solemnly swear to read everything she will ever write. Also, I’m afraid I’m developing a disturbing fascination with dark and broken characters. The more ruined they are, the stronger my feelings for them. I’m not sure what this says about me.

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