Book Reviews 2014 · Fantasy Books · Young Adult Book Reviews

‘The Young Elites’ by Marie Lu

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through the nation. Many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. But some of the survivors are rumoured 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.

4.25 Stars (Rounded to 4)

After prolonged internet connection issues, I can finally get back to business with my reviews! And what better book to start with than Marie Lu’s ‘The Young Elites’? (I will be posting reviews that I have written in my absence soon). *SPOILER FREE*

I have previously read and enjoyed Lu’s ‘Legend’, although I have yet to continue past the first book of the trilogy. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, so when I heard that Marie Lu had a fantasy book coming out, I was desperate to read it, and ordered it almost immediately. Upon finishing, my immediate reaction was one of conflicting emotions. On one hand, I feel like it should be one of my favourite books. On the other, I feel slightly let down, for reasons I cannot quite put my finger on. In hindsight, this book may well rise from 4 stars to 5, but for the moment I am sticking with four.

Of course, I have been comparing this book to Lu’s other book, ‘Legend’. After the first 100 pages, my first opinion was that I loved this book a lot more than ‘Legend’. This book was fantasy, whereas ‘Legend’ was dystopian. While I actively read both genres, I tend to prefer fantasy. It may be down to this fact that ‘The Young Elites’ had a lot more impact on me in its first half, and I found it easier to read. In both cases, Lu’s writing is solid and enticing (although not by any means perfect). As I enjoyed this book a lot more than ‘Legend’, I feel bad giving it a star less. The reason for this is that by the end of ‘The Young Elites’, the plot was heading in a direction that I wish it had not, and while I will continue with this series with a lot more conviction than the ‘Legend’ trilogy (which I am still yet to read book two of), ‘Legend’ stuck to where I wanted the story to go more than this did, even if I was a lot less invested in it. This is why ‘The Young Elites’ received a star less, despite the fact that I found this to be a far superior book overall.

Comparisons aside now. ‘The Young Elites’ felt like a very fast read, and I was drawn in from page one. I finished it in under four hours and I never once contemplated putting it down (and I switch between books a lot, so that is a large compliment). The characters in this book were fantastic. Adelina’s choices annoyed me, but she is a character of whom I get the impression that at this stage of the story, you are meant to see her glaring faults. She is by no means a perfect protagonist, and the author doesn’t for a minute try to convince us otherwise, as they usually do in YA books. She was the kind of character that you can analyse and see the reasoning behind. I also got the impression that she was developing, and hope that by the end of the series (which I believe will be a trilogy) there will be a satisfying character arc in Adelina’s character, as there was so much potential for Lu to work on. Enzo was highly fascinating to me. In the beginning he felt very mysterious, and I loved slowly chipping away at layers of his character. I also liked how he was the main male, and yet it was not him, but Raffaele, who was described as stunningly attractive (of course, Enzo was probably still very good-looking, given the character’s nature, but it is Raffaele described as the heartthrob). It was beginning to annoy me that the central males in this kind of book are always the most gorgeous men imaginable, and it felt slightly more realistic that Adelina did not fall for the best looking guy, falling for Enzo and befriended Raffaele instead. On the topic of Raffaele, he was definitely my favourite character. He was almost endearing in a way, and I really wanted to find out a bit more about him. His friendship with Adelina was perfect for me (by that I mean that it had suitable faults, and was not literally a perfect friendship). I liked that I didn’t get the sense of their friendship being anything more than platonic as well. In too many books, the girl falls for her best friend, so given that the pair had a good friendship, I hope that Lu does not take the romance route in later books. Gemma, Michel, Lucent and Dante were all different and had distinct personalities, which I was very happy about, as sometimes when there is a group of background characters, they all merge into one, but these four all had identifiable features and worked as individual characters as well as a group. Teren fitted the role of confused villain very well. He was suitably repulsive and despicable, but still a worthwhile character whose approach did not wear thin. I did not hate him so much that I found his presence aggravating, as I often do with baddies. The great thing about all of the characters is that none of them were purely good or evil in a stereotypical way. Every single person was multi-layered and had sufficient reasons to behave the way they did. It frustrates me to find a book where bad characterisation ruins a fantastic plot, but in this case, Lu gets each and every character spot on for me.

The story started off brilliantly, and I was truly loving it. Around 3/4 of the way through, however, I felt that it tailed off, and I was not hugely impressed with how the book ended. It was not they way I wanted the story to go, and I felt that what was intended to be a shock event was really quite predictable. It is for this reason that I have docked a star from its review. But I do have a lot of hope for the rest of this series, and if the sequels get back onto the route that I hope it will, then it’s possible that the later instalments may become favourites, so fingers crossed for that, and may the wait for book two commence.

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