It's time for a Fall Into Fantasy review! Today, we're talking about our Faves & Flaws for the The Young Elites. Instead of doing a traditional review, Alexa and I are each sharing three things that we really enjoyed and three things that just didn't quite work. So, how was my first experience with Marie Lu?
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Penguin | G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Series: The Young Elites #1
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
(1) a diverse cast of characters
There is a large, diverse cast of characters in The Young Elites. The protagonist is Adelina Amouteru, a survivor of the blood fever who may possess more than just scars... There's also Teren Santoro who works for the king and is the leader of the Inquisition Axis - the hunt to find all of the malfettos (survivors of the blood fever who have been marked) belonging to the Young Elites, a group of malfettos who have powerful gifts. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society, a secret sect of Young Elites who tries to find malfettos with powers before the Inquisition Axis can. You'll meet Adelina's father, her sister, Violetta, and the all of the other members of the Dagger Society. It's a large group of characters, and I found them all so interesting!
(2) an intriguing mythology
The world and mythology in The Young Elites still needs a bit of development, but I expect that to happen more as the series progresses. But what we learn of it in the first book is very intriguing! A blood fever has ravaged this world - killing many and forever marking its survivors. Some of these survivors (malfettos) possess unique powers: creating fire, controlling the wind, crafting realistic illusions, manipulating emotions, etc. There is a political angle to the story, too, which I think will develop even more in the next books and will become a very interesting aspect of the book. While I didn't understand everything about the world or the way it worked, I liked what we got to see in The Young Elites!
(3) the birth of a villain
This isn't your typical young adult story! I found it a lot darker than what I normally read in YA, which made it feel very different. Adelina has had a rough upbringing, filled with pain and abuse. Other characters also have their own secret hurts and private problems. There didn't seem to be a lot of light or goodness in this world. In fact, The Young Elites is supposed to be the story of a villain. While I didn't think it totally went there, I can see the stage being set for an epic showdown. Either way, I love the idea of depicting the birth of a villain!
(1) too many POVs
Most of the chapters focus on Adelina, but there are also chapters other points of view. Instead of focusing solely on the main character, readers also get to hear directly from Enzo, Teren and a character named Raffaele. While I enjoyed all of the characters, I didn't like having chapters from each of them. I didn't feel like it was necessary, and the POV change sometimes felt abrupt or off-putting. It made some elements of the book feel a little undeveloped - like there was so much focus on the characters that there wasn't enough of the plot or setting. I'm hoping that there will be fewer POVs in the next book, which would improve the book for me!
(2) issues with pacing
So, I struggled a bit with the pacing in The Young Elites. It wasn't as exciting as I expected it to be! There are a few moments where things really pick up, but a lot of the book is Adelina's internal monologue and angst over how she should handle certain situations, how she feels about things and what happened to her in the past. It's a lot of laying the groundwork instead of actually jumping into the action. I flew through certain chapters... and then sort of slogged through others. I wanted there to be a bit more conflict driving the narrative, but the epilogue definitely gave me hope that I'll get more of what I want in the second book!
(3) connection to characters
I found the characters fascinating, but I didn't necessarily feel anything for them. I think this may be due to the sheer number of characters you meet and who seem to play in the events of the first book. For being so dark, I expected the book to be more emotional or tense. But overall, I felt a little disconnected from the entire story. It was good - and I liked reading it - but I don't feel passionate about what I read. I want to continue the series though because I'm hoping that will change as the pace picks up and I get to know the characters better!