Not Worth The Hype | 2.5 Stars
During the summer of 2018, I stumbled into my campus’s Barnes & Nobles, looking for the book recommended because I wanted to find a story written in multiple POVs. I spent $11 on The Young Elites.
However, my friend told me that she couldn’t get past a good 1/3 of the story because of the MC’s narration. I ignored her comments and dove right into this book.
It took 4 months. 4 long months for me to finish this story. Two DNFs. I finished reading the Young Elites.
Young Elites is one of those Young Adult stories with the “Chosen One” tropes. The main character, Adelina, is the only one in her family with the remnants of a blood fever that took her mother. Her sister, Violetta, contracted the disease as well, but she did not have the markings like Adelina. After discovering her powers, she is taken on a journey.
A lot of Goodreads reviews hyped this story up. I was excited to read from the point of view from a darker character and she’s a girl? she’s a POC? and she’s a badass?
However, it took me 4 months to finish the first chapter. Not only from the story itself, but I’m in college and I have a tough time getting past the first chapter of a story.
What I Like:
- Multiple POVs
I truly believe in diversity in literature because when I was younger I would read stories where the characters looked the same, acted the same, and were the same. One of the reasons I write is because I want to create diverse characters.
Marie Lu is phenomenal at creating diverse characters. I was not expecting that much diversity, so I was surprised. I think most of the characters are not straight. Most are of various skin tones.
When I first bought The Young Elites, I was rewriting one of my stories and needed to read up on multiple points of views. It’s not easy. Trust me, I spent many nights, scratching my head, trying to figure it out. Marie Lu tied the story together cohesively with her use of multiple POVs. I especially liked Teren’s narrative.
I’m a sucker for creative names. Names ending in A’s are on the top of my list. Adelina, Violetta, Giulietta, but Raffaele is my favorite. It’s so unique.
Beyond this point, there are a lot of spoilers.
What I Was Disappointed About:
However, The Young Elites disappointed me. I found that the story was unemotional. The characters lack personality and the story became confusing with the lack of world building. The pacing of the story was like a turtle race, but once the turtles both reached about 2-3 inches from the finish line, someone kicked them. The ending happened too fast.
- Adelina IS NOT a villain or anti-hero. She’s an impulsive teenager who does not know how to conceal her powers or emotions. I don’t blame her on either because when I was a teenager, I was the same. Everyone said how dark she was. Adelina, herself, kept saying how dark she was. She repetitively told us how dark she was. Though she did kill a person, it was out of self-defense and to protect her sister.
This is also another pet peeve of mine with YA Fantasy MCs going on and on about how they saying how much they regret hurting or killing someone out of self-defense, yet at the same time they want to be powerful and strong. Sure, it takes time to become strong, but it sounds so whiny. They’re supposed to be these strong female leads yet they can’t put their emotions aside for a moment and get the job done. Just once.
(I’m looking at you, Mare. You too, Alina. Don’t worry, I’m coming for you, too.)
- Another problem I have with Adelina is that she justifies her actions because of her past. Though she is mentally unstable, it doesn’t justify some of the things she does. She blames it on the voice of her father and rolls with it.
It wasn’t as dark as everyone said.
I think is the most disappointing part of the story. Maybe I wanted the story to be darker because of other YA fantasy’s darkness. I was expecting a morally gray character who acted smartly and manipulative. Adelina was not like that. The cover was dark, but the plotline wasn’t as dark as it.
Again, it’s the narration of Adelina and how she tells us how dark she is. It’s hard to believe it when I can see it. I was waiting and waiting, yet nothing happens. The closest to Adelina’s darkness was her past and how she liked her powers.
Lack of Worldbuilding and Chemistry Between Characters
Where is Fortuna Court?
Seriously. I had the hardest time grasping the whole step up of Kenettra and the court. I did not understand how the tunnels worked. While reading, I envisioned the court next to the kingdom. How did the Inquisition Axis and Teren not find the tunnels
Also, the malfettos are seen as abominations in Kenettra, right?
But, every single person in the Dagger Society has scars and marks, but everyone’s beautiful. The malfettos are supposed to look ugly and looked down upon, but everyone in the Dagger Society is good-looking.
When Adelina was in Fortuna Court, she was taken back by Raffaele’s beauty (I mean, I was too), but every single person can’t be drop dead gorgeous. The blood fever left marks on those affected. By Kenettra’s standards, they wouldn’t be beautiful. The way Adelina described people they were stunning.
There was also a lack of character chemistry, mainly between Enzo and Adelina. I did not ship them at all. I honestly did not them to end up together at all. Adelina, I guess, developed feelings for him. She ignored them, so I did, too. Enzo seemed more like a brotherly figured and like a guy who would friend zone her if she had the guts to tell him about the feelings she had for him.
All they did was train, talk, and eat together. I cringed when they kissed. My body reacted so much while reading over their kissing scene that I cringed. I felt bad, but they had no chemistry together. Raffaele and Adelina had more chemistry together.
The Dagger Society Needs a PR department.
First off, I’m not saying this because I am a PR major. The Dagger Society really needs a Public Relations department.
They are known as the bad guys by the kingdom, yet want to be the good guys. Amazing! That’s a great, realistic goal. But if you don’t work for that goal, then how do you expect it to happen?
They ignored the deaths of malfettos, who weren’t on their level. One, that was pretentious and lazy of them. The Inquisition Axis is literally killing young people just like them, yet the Dagger Society ignores them. But no, they allow the most unstable, dangerous ones in.
I’m looking full at Enzo at this point.
Also, Enzo’s word should not be the last one for decisions. His heart took over the mission. No one watches over Adelina for days when she first arrived. Raffaele and Dante told him to be cautious of this newcomer. They warned him a couple times about Adelina (I guess that her little darkness there). He ignored his partners of years for a newcomer, an unstable one better yet. He trains her quicker and even falls in love with her.
Some small things don’t add up.
Teren wanted a secret meeting with Adelina so she can snitch on the Dagger Society, right? But why the hell are you going to meet at the castle, an hour away from where she is, and make her pass the guards? Dude, are you that high up in your job, again? At least meet halfway. C’mon.
Violetta has powers! Wow. (Note my sarcasm.) She allows all her father to abuse her sister all these years and simply apologizes to Adelina for suppressing her powers all these years. I understand her point because of how their father was, but Adelina went all out for Violetta. She was the most important thing to Adelina.
Also, Lu somewhat gave us a spoiler, so the impact of someone’s death wasn’t that deep. I was hurt for a while, then realized ‘Oh, they’re just going to come back anyway.”
Adelina has no sense at all. <spoiler> She accidentally kills Enzo at the end. Adelina really thinks that the Dagger Society will let her back in after sneaking out to snitch on them to Teren, who threatens her, doesn’t tell the Dagger Society about the threat, and runs away again to rescue her sister, then kills one of them, then finally allows their leader, Enzo, to get killed. She really thinks they’ll let her in after all of that. Now, she wants to start her own society. Why?! You can barely take care of yourself. She had the audacity to get mad at the Dagger Society after all she did to them.
So, I was left with no interest after reflecting this story for a while after reading it. The epilogue didn’t pull me into continuing the series. I considered DNFing this book several times. I’ve gone ahead and read some spoilers to interest me for the next book, but I highly doubt that I’ll buy it or check it out at a library. This book left me with a lot of confusion and disappointment.