November 19, 2014

Book Review: THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu

Book:  The Young Elites
Author:  Marie Lu
Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile
Genre:  Science Fiction & Fantasy;  Action & Adventure

The Blurb:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

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.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

My Review:

I thought this was simply a YA love story with science fiction thrown in.  I was wrong.  This is so much more than that.

This is a story of sisters, of a boy and a girl, of hate, love, revenge, of friends and enemies, of power, manipulation, of royalty, loyalty and everything else in between.

Adelina is an anomaly.  A scarred, once beautiful, Malfetto.  An abomination whose physical deformities brand her as someone to be feared.   Malfettos are survivors of the Blood Fever that killed thousand of people.  The survivors are mostly children who were left with scars and markings that made them vulnerable to others.  A few Malfettos were also left with powers that when wielded, can be deadly to everyone else.  

Adelina’s father has abused her for many years while clearly favoring her perfect, beautiful sister Violetta.  On the night that her father promises her hand to a man who wants to make her his mistress, she runs away.

But she doesn’t get far.  Her father catches her.  And for the first time her powers manifest itself with tragic results.  Adelina is to be executed publicly for murder only to be saved by other Malfettos like herself who are tagged by the Inquisitors as The Young Elites.  

These young elites are members of The Dagger Society, all of whom have power people fear and are in hiding, biding their time, for in their midst is the rightful owner of the throne.  The Prince of the realm whose only fault was to have changed because of the Fever and who now has the power to manipulate fire.  Enzo the Reaper.

A most beautiful male consort Rafaelle becomes Adelina’s lifeline.  He is the messenger.  One who can assess one’s power and manipulate feelings.  He senses dark power in Adelina, such that he hasn’t seen because it is tainted by fury and hate brought about by Adelina’s own twisted father.

She begins her training with the Elites, with Enzo pushing her more than everyone else because he not only believes in her power, he needs her.  They also form a bond that Adelina has never before felt: Love.  

Teren, the powerful Lead Inquisitor, hunts and tracks down Adelina, forcing her to work with him for he has a pawn in her sister Violetta.

Adelina now has two choices.  Betray the Elites and save Violetta or Save the Elites and let Violetta die.  Which one can she choose to live with?

This book is painfully dark, with Adelina questioning herself at every turn.  She doesn’t know herself how truly powerful she is until it is too late.  She does have good intentions, as we all, but fate works against her at every turn it seems.

As a reader, I feared for the other Elites.  I didn’t know who would die and who should live.  Such is the power of Marie Lu’s writing.  Her story telling is impeccable.  I could not put her book down.  I couldn’t eat or go anywhere until I finished The Young Elites.  The story isn’t pretty.  It isn’t tied with pretty pink bows.  Instead it is filled with hate, such that I haven’t read in a long time.  And I loved it.

The ending left me emotionally battered.  But then came the epilogue which makes me hope the tide can still turn, and that it isn’t too late…. Not for Adelina, and certainly not for HIM.  

It is certainly quite a read when the protagonist turns out to be the antagonist as well but that’s the beauty of Adelina and The Young Elites, you can’t quite tell if they’re good or bad.  Are they heroes or are they villains?  Should they be eliminated or celebrated?  These are questions you can answer yourself once you pick up The Young Elites.  As for my answers to these questions, I will suspend my judgment until the 2nd book comes out.  Till then, Happy Reading.

Meet Marie Lu on her Philippine Book Signing Tour this weekend courtesy of The National Book Store.  Here is her tour schedule:
November 22 at 1 p.m. in The Gallery, Ayala Center Cebu
November 23 at 2 p.m. in National Book Store, Glorietta 1 
Registration starts at 10 a.m. for both events.
Also watch out for my interview with Marie to be posted next week.

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