The Young Elites is the origin story of a villain. It is set in an alternate fantasy version of Renaissance Italy. After the equivalent of the Black Death sweeps through the world, a few survivors come out of the illness with supernatural powers. The [story of the] main character, Adelina, chronicles her downfall into darkness (from Marie Lu’s tumblr).
Raised eyebrows was my response when hearing that The Young Elites was the story of a villain. After all, I like to root for my heroes to slay the villain from the beginning of the story to the end.
On the other hand, I’m fascinated by the complexity of humanity. The ferocity we use to protect ourselves, and sometimes those we love.
Protecting herself is in part, if not in entirety, what Adelina is trying to do. From her overbearing father who wants rid of her. The government who wants to kill her. The people who want to use her. From herself.
The story’s multiple viewpoints reveal what drives many of the characters, showing that the line between strong leadership and deceitful manipulation can be too easily crossed.
A harrowing quote: I will find you all. I will use everything in my power to save your souls. I was born to destroy you (p 119).
Though I found the writing awkward in a handful of places, with phrases that sounded thoroughly too modern for a “fantasy version of Renaissance Italy,” the the complicated characters and storyline made it a worthwhile read. Twisted love, a yearning to be accepted, and a power too strong to control collide in Adelina.
As much as I love stories of redemption, I’m unsure if The Young Elites will ultimately be one of them. Regardless, I can’t wait to find out a bit more in The Rose Society, The Young Elites #2.