Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Faves & Flaws: The Young Elites


Today's Fall Into Fantasy post is a Faves & Flaws post focused specifically on The Young Elites. Instead of doing a traditional review, Hannah and I will both be sharing what we really liked about the book, as well as what we thought didn't work for each of us.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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. Adelina Amouteru

Marie Lu has managed to successfully craft a complicated main character. Adelina has desires and emotions that many readers will relate to, and a core of good running through her that manifests in her actions time and again. But Adelina also demonstrates flashes of a flawed, fearful, conflicted girl, one who revels in the power of her abilities and the desire to get back at those who dared to hurt or malign her. Trying to keep up with her is definitely something that will keep readers on their toes!

2. Secret society

The Young Elites are a band of malfettos, young people who endured a terrible fever and have the marks (and powerful abilities) to prove it. They develop their abilities and recruit new members, but they’ve really just got one major goal (and you’ll need to read this to find out what it is). Secret societies are always fascinating to read about, particularly if they’re as skilled, well-funded and well-organized as The Young Elites are. They also give characters, like Adelina, a cause to fight for and allies to work with. What sets The Young Elites apart, however, is how much they stay in a gray area when it comes to certain things.

3. Supernatural abilities

Malfettos, in the world of The Young Elites, occasionally manifest special, powerful abilities. It’s fascinating to see the scope of abilities that Lu has chosen to include in this world, and how there are never two that are very alike. Readers will be really intrigued by the endless possibilities for malfetto abilities here, and perhaps will even be prompted into thinking about the pros and cons of the abilities certain characters have.

1. Pacing

The pacing shifts a lot, picking up and slowing down in various bursts. It doesn’t necessarily take too much away from the story, really, particularly since curiosity about Adelina and what she will do next is definitely a compelling reason to keep turning pages. But it does make for a slightly awkward feel during some transitional chapters, which might throw off readers who notice that sort of thing.

2. Recognizable tropes

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: almost all books have character or plot tropes we can recognize. That they are a part of this novel is not a flaw in The Young Elites. It’s the fact that the reader may occasionally find themselves pulled out of the story to think, “So, so-and-so is that kind of character” or “Ah, this is what that twist in the plot might mean”. Tropes are alright, but the fact that identifying them could possibly break the reader’s engagement with the story at times is slightly bothersome.

3. The “romance”

Clearly, the romantic aspect of The Young Elites did not have the intended effect on this reader. While it’s not at all difficult to see initially what draws Adelina to that person, the speed with which everything intensifies and the level of involvement is slightly off-putting. There are readers who will almost certainly feel differently, but personally, it just never felt like a relationship I could believe in.

-o-o-o-o-o-

Overall, The Young Elites is pretty enjoyable, quick read. Adelina is the most fascinating element, as she's a character that really just pops off the page after you first meet her. It's not a series I'm particularly invested in right now, honestly. But I'm a little curious curious about where Marie Lu is going to choose to take this story next, which means I'm likely to try the second book at some point.

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