Book Review: The Young Elites
ashley | One thing that will make or break a book for me is the characters. It can be an incredible plot, but if I can’t relate to or appreciate the main character, I likely won’t think fondly of the book, but a strong lead can be enough to push me through terribly constructed story plots. That said, I’m always incredibly excited when I find a book that has both an awesome lead character and a killer story that had me chasing it all the way to the end, like The Young Elites by Marie Lu.
I must have been hiding under some rock, because this book has been getting a tremendous amount of fandom and love and I haven’t heard much about it at all. This is the first I’ve ever read of Lu and I only stumbled upon her because of another reviewer I follow on Goodreads, though I have seen her Legend series out and about. That all said, I guarantee this is not the last book of hers I’ll read.
The worlds Lu constructs are a beautiful mix of dark and haunting fantasy with a sense of hopeful realism. And I love the characters. They’re strong and flawed and real. Like Adelina. I’ve mentioned in other reviews how much I love the imagery of wolves and they play a big part here. I couldn’t think of a better symbol to associate with Adelina, she is strong and fierce and thrives on her own as well as in a pack. Her motives and thoughts are rational, a lot of times I feel like a characters insecurities and reasoning stem more from a need to point a story in a certain direction than any actual real feeling, but everything Adelina did and thought seemed completely understandable to me. Her skepticism and caution was entirely justified.
She’s also just a good soul. All of her motives are in the best interest of someone else. She realizes the risks that certain decisions put her well being in, but she always puts herself second if she knows that someone else can be saved as a result. And at the root of everything, Adelina fights for the safety of her sister. Not some guy, not some dream for herself, but for her sister. This is a refreshing change from a lot of the selfish, whiny heroines who grace the pages of a lot of these types of novels. I don’t know where that thin line is that pushes a character to one side or the other, but thankfully Adeline never even straddles it.
I know I’m focusing a lot on Adelina, but it’s because for this entire book, someone is trying to break her, to push her to her limits, play upon her weaknesses until she breaks. But Adelina doesn’t break. She admits her faults and weaknesses, she doesn’t think she is invincible, but she doesn’t break, she keeps pushing, keeps trying to prove herself and that right there is what I love about her and that is what I find lacks in most literary heroines. Even in the worst of scenarios, when she knows she is outnumbered or outwitted or overpowered, Adelina fights until she has nothing left and I applaud her.
While Adelina’s drive isn’t entirely driven by a man, of course there is a man who comes into play. Enzo, one of the Young Elites who takes her under his wing, is that kind of dark and dangerously handsome character. You can tell the chemistry is strong between the two and there are some incredibly sexy scenes… without any graphic sexual details, which takes a talent to weave. You’re strung along through this blossoming relationship and left wanting more, more, more.
What I love about this too is that you have a personal perspective of the enemy. Every few chapters the focus shifts to Teren and we get to see what fuels his actions and reactions and while they aren’t necessarily understandable, this insight does paint a fuller picture of everything, creating a rich and deep story from every angle.
It’s a character rich story, but the story itself is strong and thriving as well. The ending, it hits you like a cannon, unexpected, there is no mercy. The book is full of illusion about who to trust, what people’s motives are, a lot of room to explore fantasy and magical elements. It was an enjoyable, thrilling, exciting read from start to finish and I completely understand what all the hype and buzz was all about.