Review: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

The Midnight Star Marie Lu
The Midnight Star Marie Lu cover the young elites

Title: The Midnight Star 
Author: Marie Lu 
Series: The Young Elites #3 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: October 11, 2016 
Rating: ★★★½ 

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen. Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved. Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

“Not invincible after all, little wolf?” 

I have always been one of this series’ biggest supporters. I still am. The way Marie Lu crafted Adelina’s story is remarkable. It's so refreshing to read a book from a villain’s point of view for a change. Adelina, an outcast girl who changes the world. Not for the better, but for the worse. Betrayed by everyone she ever held dear, lost in anger, fear and loneliness. Beyond redemption, but searching for more and more power in a waisted attempt at filling the emptiness inside of her. This is not a happy story and if you’re looking for happy endings, you better turn away while you still can.

Sometimes I can't tell if my madness is what's conjuring these images, twisting my confidence. So I try to ignore them, as always. What does it matter if I'm mad? I have a hundred ships. Twenty thousand soldiers. My Roses at my side. I am a queen.

An endless amount of love for this series, but I have to say that The Midnight Star left me mostly underwhelmed and unimpressed. It’s a decent wrap-up of the story, but I think it could have been more. I feel like a lot is left out. It’s too short. It focuses on the main story and the main story alone. A lot of side plots and characters fell flat. They merely skimmed the surface. I’m talking Maeve/Lucent, Raffaele, Enzo, Magiano… It was all there, but not developed enough and that is a terrible waste. 

“We are doomed to be forever young.”

Another waste is that I didn’t really like the way it all went down. Not because it wasn’t well written. I just didn’t like it. When there was the whole “We are doomed to be forever young”, foreshadowing in the previous book I was like: ‘HELL YEAH!” It seemed so interesting, a completely new turn that would make a great addition to the original story. And for a while it did, but then it turned out they needed to visit the ancient gods in the underworld to save the fate of humankind and… I felt like I was in the last season of Once Upon A Time all over again. I just don’t like it when gods take over. With the exception of Greek/Roman mythology and Percy Jackson, I can’t stand the presence of divine entities in books. It’s too easy a solution. So that was a bummer. 

Spoiler: I did agree with the ending. Adelina had to die, there was never any other way out for her. She had been past saving for a long, long time. There was no possible way for her to redeem herself. Not anymore, she was too far gone. So it made total sense that she didn’t leave the underworld. I even thought it was beautiful that she gave up her own life, that she realised the only way of being free, was leaving it all behind. So you can imagine my disappointment when she wasn’t all that dead after all. A star in the sky that changes into a girl during the nights? Really? I mean, it’s not a bad idea, but this is ADELINA we are talking about. Give the girl some peace already. It is also completely unfair to Magiano who is now doomed to chase a ghost for the rest of his life. 

And I still miss Enzo. It was a brilliant move to kill him off in book one. I wan’t entirely in favour of his resurrection in book two, but actually learned to appreciate it when it turned out bringing him back came with a lot of complications. But now I feel like (emotionally wise, not story wise) having a shell of Enzo is worse than not having Enzo at all. Which is exactly what they all have to realise of course, but… he was such a force in that first book. And I have missed him ever since. :( I did learn to love Magiano. He was one of those characters that really should have been developed more, but while I could never bring myself to give him a chance in The Rose Society, I realised this time around that he is actually a really great guy.

One of the most remarkable things in this book is the relationship between Adelina and her sister Violetta. Things have never been easy between them and the struggles, but also the growing understanding, felt very honest and true. There is only one tiny little problem here: I absolutely loathe Violetta. I always have. I know I don’t have any reason to. That Violetta is not the bad guy here. Adelina is. But I felt like Adelina was never treated fairly by her sister. Always the prodigy, always the angel, the one everyone loved and cherished. She made a lot of wrong choices and in the end I couldn’t help but feel that she was the one who betrayed Adelina, not the other way around. I know it’s not rational, but I have hated her since day 1 and I still do. 

None of us are saints. We can all do better.

It also bothers me that none of Adelina’s former friends acknowledged that they also made mistakes. They all hated Adelina for the terrible things she has done, and they have reason to, but they all seemed to have conveniently forgotten that they were the ones that pushed her over the edge. Raffaele especially. They betrayed her, they were completely unfair to her and that’s what drove her mad. She has been hurt over and over again. When she was desperate for love, they cast her out. And none of them owns up to that, all they do is judge. No, none of it justifies her actions. I just wish there had been a scene, just one, were everything was out on the table and they could talk about everything that had happened. Where the others admitted that yes, they had indeed wronged her and that they regretted it.

You cannot harden your heart to the future just because of your past. You cannot use cruelty against yourself to justify cruelty to others.

It’s funny how a book like this gets your morality all mixed up. I blame Raffaele and Violetta a lot more than I have ever blamed Adelina even though I fully realise that her retaliation was a thousand times worse. I’m biased and I’m a hypocrite when it comes to my little wolf. But that’s what makes this series so brilliant.

All in all this series should have been as good as Legend, but The Midnight Star was nowhere near as good as Champion, so I feel a little incomplete now. But - I will repeat this once more: Marie Lu is one hell of a story crafter and I’m grateful she gave me Adelina to cry over.

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