The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
by: Marie Lu
Publication: October 7th, 2014
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Marie Lu is a talented writer. The moment I cracked open The Young Elites, I knew that she has the craft and talent to weave the tale the synopsis above tells of. I haven’t read her Legend trilogy (yet), but I’ve heard amazing things about her books and decided to try her newest release. After reading, I was left with a mix of thoughts, some positive and some negative.
First, on a positive note, Marie Lu effortlessly writes sentences full of beautiful and imaginative adjectives that gave me shivers as I visualized them.
Example: “You could say I am flawed. Marked. A malfetto. While my sister emerged from the fever unscathed, I now have only a scar where my left eye used to be. While my sister’s hair remained a glossy black, the strands of my hair and lashes turned a strange, ever-shifting silver, so that in the sunlight they look close to white, like a winter moon, and in the dark they change to a deep gray, shimmering silk spun from metal.”
If that’s not gorgeous writing, I don’t know what is! As I was saying, this book is full of sentences and quotes like this one above, with Adelina’s memories intertwined to show the reader the pain and afflictions that brought her to the anger and hatred she has locked away, the memories and people that made her run away, and, eventually brought her to the destination of being a person who became trapped in the world of magic and politics, walking the lines between loyalty and independence, unsure of where her true place lies.
On the same note, the memories were also something I stopped enjoying after awhile. Sure, they establish Adelina’s character, her past, and her personal battle of trying to discover where she belongs, but these flashbacks are used too much, and I began to feel that they became more of a bland plot device for the author. The problem with this said plot device is that it completely wipes away any tension or build-up in the writing, thus, I was left with nothing that impacted my emotions and pushed me to continue to read the story.
I didn’t find myself caring what was going on with the characters and even found myself looking ahead (shhh! I’m already feeling guilty enough) just to see if the plot actually got better. The only time I felt anxious to read more was when the ending came, and that’s just because very dramatic things happened.
Another problem I had was the world-building. Before going into this book, I thought it was high fantasy (a completely different world). Now, after reading, I’ve officially labeled it as low fantasy (our world, but with some fantasy elements) Someone correct me if I’m wrong about the types of fantasy levels, but after some research, I’m pretty sure that a high fantasy world wouldn’t be our world with only three moons, weird ray things that fly through the sky, and a blood fever (is this supposed to be similar to the Black Plague?) mentioned around the novel to make it qualify as “high fantasy”. I was confused on what type of world I was reading about. Was it a new world? Or was it our world, but with some new fantastical elements that just somehow happened? If so, what caused all of these cultures, creatures, and the whole world to occur?
Finally, Adelina was a bit of a flip-flop in terms of morals. One moment she’s worried about the darkness inside her, upset that she’s hurt someone, the next moment she’s ravenously killing someone and is delighted to be doing so. I know the darkness inside her is consuming, but, can’t she at least try to fight it? Or say that she’s not intending to hurt someone? Her character development was extensive throughout the novel, but I still couldn’t decide if she was just a ruthless killer or a broken character.
Summing up: A long read written by what I can tell to be is a talented writer, The Young Elites has amazing dialogue and general writing, but fails to have an entertaining plot and a consistent world. I found tiny moments were I really enjoyed The Young Elites, and other moments when I wasn’t as captivated.
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