This is a spoiler-free review 🙂
By the ever awesome geek queen, Marie Lu
* I do not make any money from the above links *
I’ll be real – I was meant to post this AGES ago and just completely forgot about it until I decided to clean my bookshelf today and found these. Doh! Man, am I behind.
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.
The Young Elites trilogy is a fantasy dystopian YA in which after a widespread plague known as the blood fever, several, children are unique abilities and are branded as Malfettos. Amongst the Malfettos is a group of young elites (ha! name drop) who have trained to have a stronger hold on their powers in order to extinguish the governments suppression of their kind. The concept behind this series feels very much like young X-men, right? Super cool.
The defining characteristic of this series is the main character, Adelina Amoteru. She’s 100% bad-ass and if this were any other book, she’d be the bad guy. Growing up, Adelina was mostly shunned by her father after she was marked by the blood fever. Children affected by the blood fever typically have some kind of physical brand – in Adelina’s case, she is missing an eye and her hair is an unnatural colour. Adelina’s father believed that she wouldn’t be able to attract a decent dowry because of her markings, and proceeded to physically and emotionally abuse her. This abuse contorts Adelina’s moral compass, and while most of the time she tries to do the right thing, she is often so overwhelmed by her emotions that she snaps to the point where she draws strength from causing others pain.
“No one ever gives me their kindness without hoping for something in exchange.
Are they any different? Are they all the same? They all want to use you, use you, use you until they get what they want, then they will toss you aside.”
So if it wasn’t already obvious, this book is dark, a lot darker than what I would’ve expected from a series marked as YA. Even though there’s a pretty long list of things I don’t like about this series, I think that the way that it strays away from your stock standard dystopian-YA-special-butterfly-syndrome is incredibly refreshing (looking at you, Red Rising, Divergent, Hunger Games, Red Queen, etc.). Adelina is seriously awesome, and I never thought I’d love a character who was obviously so insane!
…Which leads me to my next point.
As much as I love Adelina’s character, I do think her execution could have been done much better. I think I can attribute this to the fact that every book in this series is really damn short. I wish Lu had spent a little more time delving into Adelina’s history, making her bad actions feel more justified.
“I belong to no one. 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.”
Further to this point, the writing is a little shallow. There’s a lot of telling and not a lot of showing, there were some parts where I felt like Lu’s intention was meant to provoke some kind of emotional response and I just didn’t feel it, and even despite the low page count, there were some parts that were definitely kind of slow. One thing to note though, I’m a passionate epic fantasy reader and anything that doesn’t world build for at least 500 pages is kind of tough for me to get immersed in. I also think that the writing does make it accessible for those who are newbie readers, or new to the genre.
Overall, yes. I really liked this series. The bad-ass factor is more than enough to carry you through, and the language simple enough to keep up a decent pace. Some of the plot twists are incredibly different to those you’d typically find in this genre, and the further you get into the series, the further it strays from those nasty tropey-tropes. That’s always a good thing in my books, and I sincerely hope that we see more of this in dystopian YA to come.