“Tell me, little wolf. Do you want to hurt those who have wronged you?”
The Young Elites is the first book in Marie Lu’s second trilogy, one intended to chronicle the main character’s transition into becoming a villain. The novel takes place in a world where survivors of a blood fever, also coined malfettos, are looked upon with scorn and fear. All malfettos bear markings left from their illness, but some have also inherited god-like powers. They are called Elites.
Our main character, Adelina Amouteru, discovers she is an Elite and is sought by the Inquisition. After escaping their clutches, she joins the Dagger Society, a group of Elites whose goal is to take back the Kennetran throne.
I really enjoyed this book. It was my second time reading it, and I was pleased to discover that my feelings toward it hadn’t changed over time. I gave The Young Elites a 4 star rating on Goodreads both times. If you enjoy fantasy novels and/or tragic stories, this is for you. It’s certainly a nice change of pace from the usual Young Adult arcs, where you follow “the good guy.”
The tone and atmosphere of this novel are dark from the beginning, and Marie’s dreary imagery provides a lovely backdrop for such a story. From the action scenes to the romantic moments, the descriptions constantly toe the line between gorgeous and dismal. It’s a haunting sort of beauty, and I loved it. Adelina’s dreams and flashbacks are probably my favorite example of this, as they’re so twisted and wonderful.
The writing itself felt a bit simplistic at the beginning, but once you’re absorbed in the story, it becomes much less noticeable. The world building also felt awkward at times, probably due to how fast-paced and plot-driven The Young Elites is. Personally, I would have appreciated more details about the royal family and the political landscape prior to meeting Enzo. My sense of place also felt off while reading, despite the map at the front.
Thankfully, the characters made up for any issues I had with the setting. They offered such a refreshing complexity. Each of them was easy to relate to, but difficult to side with definitively. Raffaele, despite his compassionate nature, has a brutal side beneath the surface. Enzo, cold and deadly, is the most merciful of the Daggers. And Teren, for all his maddening inconsistencies, has his moments of vulnerability.
And of course, Marie handles Adelina’s character perfectly. Following her from scene to scene gives you an understanding of her actions, despite the fact that you aren’t meant to agree with many of them. You can definitely see how Adelina’s mind functions and what has made her who she is. You can see yourself in her shoes, given the right circumstances.
I’d love to hear your opinions on The Young Elites (or theories for The Rose Society) in the comments down below. I’m really excited to see where Marie Lu takes this trilogy. The ending, while concluding this arc rather nicely, opens up a whole realm of possibilities for the sequel. There’s so much potential here.