Hello humans! Welcome to the beginning of quite a journey! Think back with me to December 2017, it was a wonderful time. Christmas had just past and I was free from the book buying ban (which honestly, I was failing at anyway) and I happened to walk into The Works. Some might call this a mistake, I called it a triumph. In this treasure trove, I found copies of two series I had been meaning to read for as little as £2 per book! Those books were Marie Lu’s The Young Elites series and the Legend books. It may have taken me almost four months to read them but I’m finally ready! So over six or so reviews in the next few weeks join me as I read these well-known stories.
Kicking things off with The Young Elites.
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 rumoured 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.
I’ve shelved this under ‘so YA it hurts’ on Goodreads because in many ways I would describe it as a ‘classic’ YA novel with a female protagonist. We have a girl who has been mistreated as a child with a demure and innocent sister who needs protecting. She develops powers that mark her out as unique in society and must learn how to use them to be part of overthrowing the oppressive power. There are a lot of books like that. I don’t use my ‘so YA it hurts’ shelf as an insult. I think there is something comfortable and powerful about stories like this one. They were the books I first fell in love with in this genre and I still enjoy reading them. However, if that’s an immediate turn off for you then I wouldn’t pick this up.
I thought that this was a strong start to a series, with potential for a lot of growth in various directions. I liked the setting, I thought the ‘magic’ system was well conceived and not overly complicated. I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t ‘lower class’ characters suddenly interacting with the monarch, that the King’s dirty work was being carried out by a go-between, it made the whole scenario a little more believable (as believable as fantasy novels can be).
I thought the characters in this story were also very believable, with real motivations and depths to their personalities which I hope are teased out a bit more in the sequels. There were a couple of moments where it felt like some of Adelina’s internal dialogue was put there simply to explain away a plot hole or some weaker motivation. For the most part, it didn’t bother me but there were moments where this felt quite clunky, I understand why she is going to protect her sister, I’m ok to not have a page of explanation. I have a soft spot in my heart for a villain/morally ambiguous character so I hope that Marie Lu continues to develop those aspects of her personality!
Fair warning: there is romance in this book and it is cliché YA forbidden love kind of romance. Do not read if that’s going to make you hate the entire book. Once again, for me, it has that familiarity but I know some people really aren’t fans.
This was a fun, quick read with a lot of familiarities (despite having only read Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker previously) and, as I say, I think this has a lot of different directions to move into in later books. I’m looking forward to reading them!
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? Have you read this series – if so what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!