The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Preview (from GoodReads):
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.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After reading this book, I read an interview with Marie Lu about writing this book in which she discussed how her editor inspired her to scrap an earlier version of the book in which Enzo was the main character in favor of focusing on a villainous side character, Adelina. It was not until I read this that I realized that this — the fact the Adelina is a villain — was what had been bugging me about the book all along and keeping me from truly enjoying it. Which was very disappointing to me, because I loved Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy and was really looking forward to this book.
Although the reasons for her villainy are developed reasonably well (including the violence, manipulation and rejection of her father, being sold as a mistress to some oogie old guy by said father, and then almost being burned at the stake), I found the rest of her character development, and the character development of the novel in general, to be pretty shallow. And because of this, certain elements of the book didn’t really ring true to me, like Adelina as a love interest. It seemed to be based pretty much entirely on the way she looked, because it couldn’t have been about her personality, which seemed to be derived almost entirely from anger and self-pity.
That said, I found the premise of the novel to be engaging, and the ending, with the introduction of a few new characters and a surprising plot twist, promises an interesting, at the very least, sequel.