[456]: The Young Elites by Marie Lu


GOODREADS SUMMARY | Putnam for Young Readers | Hardcover, 355 pages | Published: October 7th, 2014 | Young Adult | Fantasy | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

A decade after  a deadly illness almost wiped the population, children who survived the epidemic have become rejects of society. The fever left them marked; and some time during their adolescent, they will develop incredible powers. Adelina is one of those survivors. She, with the long silver hair, pale lashes, and one eye. One night after she tried to flee the cruelty of her father, those powers presented itself, killing him in the process.

Charged with murder, she was imprisoned. On the day of her execution, she comes face to face with The Reaper: leader of the band of survivors with great powers known as The Young Elites. He saved her, and brought her into the fold. In the compound along with the other members, she trains to harness and control her power. Adelina couldn’t wait until she’s able to join in the missions, but without proper training, her power becomes a liability that could endanger the lives of everyone around her.

When Teren Santoro found her again, he would force her to choose between betraying the only people that had accepted her for who she is, and saving her sister from torture and imminent death.

Marie Lu’s latest venture into fantasy started off marginally well: a disfigured girl sits in her prison cell about to be hanged for the murder of her own father. In less than a couple of pages, Lu managed to whet the reader’s appetite. Adelina mulls through the short life she’d lived, and goes through a series of guilt-ridden acceptance of her fate. This is the reason why many would find  the first half of this book to be quite an absorbing read. I know I did. I wanted to know exactly what her father did that sealed his fate; I wanted to know what kind of powers Adelina possessed. I was also looking forward to meeting The Reaper; and when I did, the book was almost halfway done.

But things took a turn for the worse. Her life at the compound was another story. It soon became tedious for me. Truthfully, her decision to hide a secret from The Young Elites proved to be this book’s downfall. It became frustrating. I knew, heck, she knew hiding a secret from them would be disastrous, and yet she still made the conscious decision to do so.

Though the more I think about it, the more I realized that these poor decision making happens a lot in YA. Characters almost always would choose to hide a secret. Just once I’d like to read about a character who is one step ahead of the villains of the book. That would be such a good twist, wouldn’t it? But hey, that’s just me.

This, being the first, we have a lot yet to learn from the characters at play. I was under the impression that a love triangle was in the offing; I’m glad that it wasn’t the case. Teren and Enzo are equally interesting characters on their own right. I’m not quite convinced, however, that the ending will be left the way it is. Though, this might be just wishful thinking. I also want to see more of Raphaelle, the painfully beautiful man whose power is to seek out other candidates.

Regardless of my mediocre rating, I’m curious to see where this series would go. This book ended brilliantly, heartbreakingly painful. But. There’s hope. And I hope that [spoiler] they find that malfetto who can resurrect the dead. [/spoiler]. Over all, a promising start, but I wasn’t wow’ed by the second half. 

  • I have this book to read and have read mostly mediocre things. I am interested in reading, especially after reading your review. A good ending can add a lot and when it is the first book in a series, sometimes the first book can be a little “eh” or just okay. I definitely need to get on reading this book soon so I can join the conversations about it!

  • Christy

    The secret keeping … ugh. I see that in all genres, but it runs rampant in YA. I’ve kind of stepped back from YA, except a few here and there.

  • Kind of worried about this one. Not many have been wow’ed by it, in contrast to my expectations. Thank for your review though, I’ll make sure to read it with an open mind and see how it goes 🙂

  • I definitely had mixed feelings about this too. The beginning was really strong — I loved the idea of a not-conventionally-beautiful, accidental-father-murdering heroine, and I thought the Italy-inspired fantasy world was interesting. But the middle got muddled for me too — I didn’t end up finding Adelina quite as intriguing as I hoped, and I had trouble connecting with many of the characters. I question the way multiple POV was used — I didn’t think that the POV switching added very much to the story. And I completely agree with the secret she was keeping. That seemed contrived to me.

    The end was stronger and the epilogue suggests that the next book will incorporate a new setting and completely new characters, so I’m willing to read another installment and see what develops.

    Jen @ YA Romantics

  • Yep yep this is the fifth mixed review I’ve read. I haven’t read anything about Marie Lu yet, so I might have to start with her Legend series before going into this one. Haha and wouldn’t it be great if we had a hero that was always one step ahead of the villain. BUT THEN ONE DAY THE VILLAIN WON. (Isn’t this just Megamind? Hahahah)

  • It’s frustrating when a series or book start out so well, and they fall short. I’ve heard a LOT of mixed reviews. Not sure this series is for me, unfortunately!

  • Amazing review Joy. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this book, though sorry you didn't love it : I did, but I also had some small issues, hih. I did NOT like that she kept a secret. I didn't like that at all. Sigh. And I agree with you; wishing for that in books too 🙂 Anyway. Your review is awesome. <3 and I'm glad you didn't hate this book, lol 🙂 Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

    BUT WAIT. Also. SPOOOOOOOILERS. Did you not also realize that the girl in the epilogue is the one who can bring back people from the dead? (Or was it her brother that brought himself back?) Don't think so. Think I remember it being the girl. And she is coming to them. So I am crossing my fingers too, for that, hih 🙂

  • Oh such a shame with how she had to hide a secret and that kind of took away from the awesome beginning of the book. Sounds really frustrating in that sense! And she actually takes longer to meet the Reaper than anticipated. I’ll still give it a go though, cos I love Marie Lu. Great review Joy!

  • YES! THIS! Why can’t our heroes and heroines stay ahead of the villains! I have a copy of this one, but have pushed it back a little. I love that the MC isn’t the perfect traditionally beautiful character who has it all. But it sounds like the second half is just padding for a big secret reveal and she loses that identity sadly.
    Fabulous review and hopefully your next read i much more engaging <3

  • It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by this author. I tried years ago her adult ones and they were fun but never YA. Maybe one day, I heard a lot about them.

  • I’ve heard that this book gets extremely dark, but I did love her Legend series, so I’m conflicted about reading this one. I’m glad all the characters and their stories are interesting, though. Great review! 🙂

  • When I read a book where the MC is keeping a secret that will have bad effects when revealed I read with a looming sense of dread and that stress diminishes my enjoyment for sure. I can see why that would kind of ruin the second half of the book. This doesn’t sound like a book I’d pick up, but I do know a few friends who loved this. I think this is something my husband would like. He read her last series and loved it, and I left off after the 2nd book. Wonderful review, Joy! I hope there is someone with that power in the next book! Sounds like it’s desperately needed! 🙂

  • I’ve read some very mixed reviews for this book, and it seems a lot darker than her Legend trilogy. To be honest, I find it very appealing that Marie Lu is branching out and creating these dark characters despite what is usually offered on the YA playing field. I totally understand why you’d be frustrated, I find that so stupid as well and have a discussion on the blog coming up about the exact same thing. These characters need to communicate!!!

  • I was also frustrated with Adelina’s secret keeping, and I was surprised at how the book turned out (I didn’t realize when I read it that it was a villain origin story). I’m curious to see what will happen next with the malfetto you mentioned and with Maeve. Lovely review!

  • I’m halfway through the book! It’s so good! I agree with you on the Secret Syndrome. Don’t worry I’ll write that book where the character is a step ahead of the villain. Haha. Though I commend Lu for creating a unique fantasy world. Raphaelle is an interesting character too. He sounds like a Magnus Bane to me. But that’s just me. I’ve read in an interview with Marie Lu that Raphaelle was supposed to be the MC. I don’t know but I’ll still stick with mi Adelinetta on this matter. Okay, I have to go and finish the book!

  • I’ve yet to read a book by Lu (I know I’m so behind), but this book actually appeals to me more than her other series for some reason. I’m glad that despite the impression this book left with you, you’re still willing to give the rest of this series a go!

  • I liked this one a bit more than you did, but I am really excited for the next book, because like you said, the ending was painful and where can it go from there?

  • You’re completely right about secret keeping in YA, it’s a trope I absolutely despise. I’m sorry Lu chose to take that route. I just ordered this days ago and I don’t regret it, but I have a feeling I’ll feel lukewarm about it, just like you did.
    Ah well, can’t win them all.

  • I’ve seen quite a few of mediocre reviews for this one so I think I’m going to wait a little to read it. At least until closer to the release date of the next book. But I definitely still want to read it cause it’s Marie Lu and I love fantasy!! 😀

  • I’ve been hesitant to start this one since I’ve heard mixed things but overall I’m still interested in it enough to want to start it. I do hate when characters harbour secrets when they shouldn’t be (it’s aggravating to a reader) so I feel your pain.

  • I am sorry that you didn’t enjoy this book more. I have it on my wishlist, but after I read few mixed reviews, I’m not sure if I will read it anytime soon.

  • I actually don’t see this one as a love triangle. If Marie Lu pulls a Warner on us, I’m so going to rage for days. >_< I'm interested in Raphaelle too–I think his character has a lot of depth, and I'm having a lot of theories about how things will turn out for him. For the spoiler–me too! But not for obvious reasons. I just think this person would make an interesting addition to the cast. I wasn't wowed either, Joy. I hope the sequel turns out better for the both of us.

  • This book sort of petered out for me in the middle. And I didn’t feel like I got to know any of the characters that well. But the ending shocked me (Although, now I have hope after reading your spoiler because i forgot they mentioned a malfetto that could do that) and I do like the potential that this story has…. and it’s Marie Lu. But yea, my rating was mediocre too.

  • The Secret syndrome does seem to happen a lot in YA and can be very frustrating, but it sounds like Lu pulled off a brilliant ending that has you curious and excited for the next series!

  • Even if you didn’t love this, I think it still says a lot about the author that you are curious enough to want to pick up book two and see where it goes from there.

  • I totally agree with you that it’s frustrating when the conflict of a story revolves around the fact that the main character is keeping something secret (when it’s obvious that they shouldn’t be). I’m still interested in reading this one, but it’s good to know that Adelina does that going into it.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  • I am not a big reader of dystopia but this one does sound interesting. The murder, prison drama, and all that are things that I usually like in my adventure books and As you mentioned, I too am curious what her father did. The bastard!

  • sarabara081

    I totally see what you are saying about secrets. It can drive me insane! In this particular case I don’t think it bothered me as much as it did you because I think Adelina is supposed to almost be the bad guy in this book and series in a way. I do have the same hopes you mentioned above!