Entertaining, But Still Lacking


Source: Author Website
The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014, 368pp.)

In a fantasized version of Renaissance Italy, those who survive the dreaded blood fever find themselves gifted with magical powers. These young survivors call themselves the Young Elite; everyone else calls them malfettos, the cursed. For young Adelina Amouteru, her power is the ability to create illusions so powerful they can drive people to distraction, or even bring about death. When her untrained powers inadvertently bring about her abusive father’s unsavory (but well-deserved) demise, the malfetto-hating Inquisition Axis arrests her and sentences her to death.
 
Enter the Dagger Society, a group of Young Elites lead by the mysterious youth, Enzo Valenciano. On the day of her scheduled execution, Adelina suddenly finds herself rescued by Enzo, and relocated to the Daggers’ hideout. There, Enzo offers her a chance to join the gang and hone her abilities. She accepts his invitation, but is dismayed to find that many of the Daggers don’t trust her, and actually fear her for her power. As she struggles with her own insecurities and fears—fears that fuel her abilities, and could lead to more death—she finds that the ambitious lead Inquisitor, Teren Santoro, has discovered her whereabouts, and is now threatening to kill Violetta, the sister she left behind, if she does not agree to spy on the Daggers for him.

First, the good: there’s a lot of impressive stuff in here. There’s a splendid fantasy world, lots of adventure, and an ending that will tempt even the most jaded of teens into checking out the sequel. But personally? I think it could have been so much better. 

On her site, the author explains that The Young Elites is the beginning of an origin story for a villainess, which, I have to admit, is a pretty neat idea. However, I’m of the opinion that Adelina (the heroine/villainess in question) gets to her desired destination just a little too quickly. Does she really have to go bad by the end of the first book? Why not the second? Or even the third? As anyone who’s seen Star Wars can tell you, it took Anakin Skywalker three whole movies to go from bright-eyed innocent to menacing villain.

I’ll complete my laundry list of complaints by mentioning the criminally underdeveloped supporting cast, and the obligatory romantic pairing between Adelina and the hot guy, which felt rushed in its development.

So, my opinion? It’s okay. Entertaining, but certainly not spectacular. Recommend for Ages 15-Up, and for fans of Lu’s earlier Legend trilogy; fans of X-Men, and other areas of fantasy.

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