Series: The Young Elites #1
Published by Putnam Books for Young Children
Published on October 7th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Suspense, Young Adult
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.
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.
It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.
At first, The Young Elites seemed like a mish mash of everything I’ve already seen in young adult fiction. There’s so many similarities we can draw on:
It resembles An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (yes, I realize that this book has a later release date, but I read it before TYE) because it involves a lot of spying, behind the back rendez-vous, and secret betrayals.
It resembles The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen in the way that some of the main characters have a secret connection to the royal bloodline.
It resembles The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken in that a disease has obliterated the young population and the remaining children are marked with special powers, leaving the rest of the population in fear.
There’s nothing wrong with having similarities to other successful books, but there was nothing really all that original about The Young Elites. And you know what? Even that’s not a problem with me, as long as the book is entertaining and engrossing. The problem with The Young Elites early on was the fact that the plotting was slow– not much happened in the first half of the book. Much like Lu’s dystopian hit, Legend, The Young Elites features a slowly moving first half, all building to more climactic, suspenseful scenes near the end of the book. But the early slow plotting meant that I couldn’t get hooked; I couldn’t help but focus on the lack of originality in the concept.
About halfway in, The Young Elites started getting interesting- the suspense, the plot, the mystery, and the tension all started building, and the book became more engrossing and easier to fly through. The initially dull characters started to change and develop, and the story became unpredictable and turbulent. The latter half of the book was very entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I was able to forget about the lack of originality because the storyline was picking up.
So why only three stars? After I read the book, I realized I hated the main character. Adelina moans all the time about the fact that “she is tired of being used and forgotten.” I felt bad for her at the beginning, because she hadn’t chosen this awful life, but as the book went on, I lost respect for her. She continued to make mistake after mistake. The Young Elites could have been named “The Chronicles of Adelina Amouteru’s Fuck Ups”, and no one would have said anything. There’s screw up after screw up, and each time she screws up, she gets mad. AT OTHER PEOPLE. She makes her biggest mistake near the end of the book, one that throws the entire world out of balance, and when she gets rejected by her peers, she has the audacity to be pissed off at them for not forgiving her. Look Adelina, it’s not their problem you’re an incompetent child. I dislike the fact that she villainizes other people RAFFAELE WHO I LOVE SO MUCH who I happen to like, because they’re making logical decisions. I get it Adelina, you’ve been used and abandoned and all that crap, but you have to earn a place in society. You had a chance to do that in this book, and you couldn’t. You have no one to be mad at but yourself.
Look, I realize that Adelina is not supposed to be the hero. She’s apparently supposed to be the villain. I personally find her to be neither. She certainly isn’t a hero, but she’s not a real villain- her moral compass is far too strong, and her soul is far from villainous. She’ll fantasize about killing someone, and then when she actually does it, she shows incredible regret and remorse. She’s neither a hero nor a real villain, just a useless, confused asshole. As an author, it’s one thing to write a story from an anti-hero’s perspective, but it’s another thing to write from the perspective of an incompetent putz who I couldn’t give two shits about.
It’s frustrating, because I was definitely planning on reading the sequel until I realized how much I despised the main character- I’m not so sure now. I want to find out what happens, but I don’t know if I can stand another book of Adelina’s narration- especially if she’s going to portray characters I loved far more than her as villains, only because she holds an unwarranted grudge against them. The Young Elites was in general a very engaging novel, but it was essentially ruined by a terrible main character who I couldn’t generate an ounce of sympathy for. What a shame.