Monday, December 29, 2014

Elite and Ticked Off

We all carry our scars around, and they affect every decision we make, but what if every scar was on the outside? In Marie Lu's The Young Elites, the malfettos suffer the shame and ridicule and persecution of their entire society thanks to a plague that scarred them but didn't take them. But society isn't ready for those who survived and have become The Young Elites. 

The plague ravaged the world, killing the adults it touched. Many children survived, however, they were left far from unscathed. Many were deeply scarred. They are now called malfettos, the abominations. To make matters worse, some malfettos have developed abilities that rival the supernatural. While Adelina's father was appalled to have a daughter who was a malfetto, he at least would have preferred her if she developed powers and was of any use to him. Instead, she was completely useless and a shame to their entire family on top of that. When she runs away after he sells her as a mistress to a local business man, they are both surprised to discover that she is indeed talented, even though her talent wasn't one that could help him...

Scheduled to be executed by the Inquisition, Adelina isn't going to fight her fate, but when the Young Elite rescue her, she finds out dark secrets she never thought could be true. Enzo, the leader of the Dagger Society (Young Elites) is the malfetto prince the royals said had perished. Now he wanted the throne back from his greedy, cold sister and her malfetto lead Inquisitor. To be part of the Dagger Society, Adelina must prove her worth, but her powers are dark and mysterious. She feels a connection to most of the Elites, but even they are unsure how her powers will play out. As she advances, so does the war on malfettos. Children and harmless women are dragged into the street and executed, but the Daggers have to pick their perfect moment to attack. If they don't, they could lose everything. 

While I really loved Lu's first series, Legend, it had some moments that ran a little slow. After reading the first book in this series, it is clear Lu has gained a little experience under her belt and chose to pick up the pace, because this was one heck of a book! This historical fantasy goes above and beyond to hold a readers attention, and Adelina is the ultimate of anti-hero. She doesn't fully understand her power, but she does know she likes the strength it gives her over others. She isn't a bad person by any means, but after years of torture at the hands of her father, she definitely has a well-deserved dark side. But she is also kind and caring. She loves her sister unconditionally and will go to great lengths to save her, even test her own limits of right and wrong. And her relationships with the different Elites are so different and unique, you see layer and layer of depth within Adelina's character with each page you turn. 

The story itself is also unique while still being familiar. Super powers in young adults? Not terribly original. The way Lu does it? Pretty freakin' great! My only concern was the lack of real world building, which was a problem in her last series as well. If a world is developed on the page in the same level of detail as in the writer's head, I should be able to picture what each scene looks like, but with Lu's books, I often find myself surprised by a piece of the setting because it doesn't fit with other details I have gleaned. That means there are definite gaps in what she is giving us. It is a fine line between too much and too little world-building, and that is one thing Lu should work on for the sequel to Young Elites. Everything else she has in spades!

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