Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Published by the Penguin Group
Publication Date: October 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
What a wonderful introduction to Marie Lu. The Young Elites is the first of her books that I’ve read and I couldn’t be more pleased to find a new author whose series I will await in restless anticipation! The Young Elites is the first YA series that I’ve been excited about since Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. The story reminds me of a Game of Thrones for the young reader with a bit more magic and supernatural thrown in there for good measure. It’s a story that casts aside the conventional romance, happy ending, and good girl protagonist for a strong female protagonist who is both physically and mentally scared, crippled into not knowing who to trust or where to turn. It challenges the notion of good and evil and pushes us to accept unfortunate plot twists that we may vehemently oppose.
Adelina’s world is not a pleasant one. Thousands of people are left scarred, malfettos, by a blood fever that took down their nation. The malfettos are completely dehumanized by the unmarked. They are stalked, hunted, and killed. They are forced out of the city and used as tools in order for the unmarked citizens to gain control and establish a city of fear. The elites are fighting for a world in which malfettos walk free, but we cannot be entire sure how “pure” these elite are. They too are filled with fear and darkness, Adelina more so than the rest of them.
I love Adelina’s story. She gains our devoted sympathy and compassion throughout her upbringing, the oppressed at the hands of the oppressor. She shocks us with her powers and is full of surprises. What I loved most about her was that she is flawed. She is not perfect and the mastery of her powers does not come to her easily. She struggles and fails and is absolutely real. She has always been fearful and that fear is not something that she easily discards, if it ever leaves her completely at all (I’d argue not.). She loves and she hates, but her story is one of self-discovery and personal understanding. Sure, she wants to save the world, but she is trying to know who she is and what her capacity for power is.
Everyone in this story has secrets. Deception is the name of the game. Perhaps that’s why it is such an exciting tale. Even as the reader, you can’t trust the characters. You cannot know who is good and who is evil. I can’t even begin to fathom where book two is going to take us. I’ve been swept off my feat. HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE THE WAIT FOR BOOK 2?!?!?!?!?!