Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review + Villain Squad + Giveaway: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites #1
Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Publication.Date:October 7, 2014
Pages:384 (paperback)
Published By:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Website:Marie Lu 

The Young Elites on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

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 rumored 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.


Enzo laughs along, his low, velvet voice mixing with my higher one. I don't think I've ever heard him laugh before. It's a soothing sound, both tender and unsure, reminiscent of someone who used to laugh more. His arm stays wrapped securely around my waist. My lips tingle. Even if he's just trying to continue our disguise, he's doing an excellent job.
"You're here because you know you don't belong," he replies coolly. "Let me tell you something, Adeline. There's no shame in turning your back on a group of criminals who want nothing more than to burn this entire nation to the ground. Do you think they'd protect you if you were in danger?" He turns, his gaze sidelong.

I think back to how malfettos have burned at the stake, and how the Daggers chose not to save them. Because they weren't Elites.

It took me a while to get into the story and I feel the first half was a bit on the slow side. I was expecting more of a fast-paced novel, given the nature of the synopsis, but I was given something more slow and detailed. At least in the first half, the second half took off like a rocket! Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn't what I expected so it took me a bit to be excited about this story.

Adelina is an exceptional character and I liked her from the beginning. She lost her left eye, and her mother, due to the blood fever and her father is a cruel man attempting to find out what her power is and profit from it. Adelina doesn't start out a strong character and it takes a while for her to completely find her footing. I love her character development because you can see her slowly coming into not just her powers, but also becoming more herself. She changes from someone who was terrified of her father and becomes a force to be reckoned with. I know that sounds cliche, but that's really what happens.

The other Daggers fear her. Not because she's evil and is out to get them, but because her power comes from fear and anger. Dangerous combinations for anybody, but more so when that person can kill you with merely an illusion.

Teren is a great character, even if he's considered the villain of the story. He has a dark secret - secrets really - and is on a mission to rid Kenettra of malfettos. The thing I really like about Teren is that he's not a crazed villain out on a mission to destroy / take over the world. He believes he is doing good by ridding the world of these "demons." In his eyes, he's not the bad guy, he's the good guy.

And in Enzo's eyes Teren is the bad guy, and the Daggers the good guys.

I love stories where the good vs. bad isn't clear cut. Both sides have points and both sides aren't technically wrong. That's what I feel from Young Elites. Yes, killing the malfettos in cold blood isn't great and maybe there's some compromise to be met, but at the same time some of the malfettos are dangerous - see Adelina killing you with her mind - and unknown.

Couldn't rest.
While it did take me sometime to get into The Young Elites I am so glad I hung on and stuck it out. Lu's writing is excellent and perfectly detailed. We're not overwhelmed by facts - something I find can happen in first books a series - but gently entered into this world. The Young Elites is a great start to what I'm hoping will be an amazing series. I didn't read Lu's Legend series, but given the love I've seen for it I have high hopes for The Rose Society and Book 3.

Villain Squad (or Duo, if you will)
Things are happening in today's world. Good and evil is no longer a black and white issue, but an issue of who is telling the story. We are all the hero of our own story.

Magneto's ultimate goal is to protect the mutants from the humans that wish to destroy them. According to one Reddit user, the Joker is the real hero of The Dark Knight as he helped united the citizen of Gotham (you seriously need to read his theory because it makes so much sense!). And along that vein, take a look at DC's newest movie Suicide Squad. The villains are recruited to help the government in exchange for clemency. So right there . . . bad guys are now the good guys, but they're still bad guys. And of course, The Young Elites's Aelina.

None of these characters are the quintessential hero, but nor are they a strict example of a villain.

In honor of all these anti-heroes, Evie and I created our own villain identities, complete with backgrounds and some serious badass abilities.

Additional Squad Members

However, no villain squad of ours would be complete without the following members:

Red Diamond (Steph In Wonderland). A casino hustler, Red Diamond spends her days at the casinos playing poker and hustling all she can using her X-Ray Vision.

Harley Quinn (DC Comics). I've always been a fan of Harley Quinn. She's nuts, but so fun. She's comes of as ditzy, but really this woman is a straight up genius. First off, she's a doctor and began working at Arkham Asylum and a young age. She gives in her all, is beyond brave and can kick some serious ass. 


The Darkling (The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo). I mean. Leigh knew how to write The Darkling and write him in a way that even if he is the villain of the story, you don't care. I mean, you care on some level, but it's the Darkling so you're also willing to overlook it. 


Catastrophe (aka Taylor Swift). She can kick ass. She can sing (we would need our own theme song). And she comes with her own squad. Can't really argue anything about this, can you?


Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead). The guy is good with a cross bow and still has a strong set of morals - even during a zombie apocalypse. If he can survive all that he has throughout The Walking Dead, we definitely need him on our squad! Plus, we know he has a soft side given the way he took care of Baby Judith.


Phoenix (The Violet Eden Chapters by Jessica Shirvington). He states it perfectly: “Not everything is black and white, Violet. Don’t believe everything you’ve been told.” Violet can have Lincoln, I want this guy. He's tortured, passionate, and protective. Want.


Sponsored by Penguin Teen

So tell me . . . who would be your super villain alter-ego? And which characters would you put on your villain squad?

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