Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood plague: marked by a jagged scar, snow-white hair, and lashes. Cast out by her family, Adelina has finally found a place to belong within the secret society of Young Elites. To some, the Elites are heroes, here to save innocents in desperate situations. But to the Inquisition Axis, the white-robed soldiers of Kenettra, they are monsters with demonic powers who must be brought to justice. As Adelina learns more about this perilous world where politics and magic clash, she soon realizes that her own powers may be in danger of bringing on an era of panic such as the world has never seen.
©2014 Xiwei Lu (P)2014 Penguin Audio
The Young Elites started with a premise that should have been wonderfully distinct: disfigured heroine on an alternate universe planet, lack of soppy romance, and some political intrigue thrown into the mix. However, what we ended up with are a lot of character/setting cliches, safe rather than daring plot decisions, and a lot of logic holes that Lu didn't write herself out of before publishing. The result was a disappointment that failed to grab my interest at any point.
Story: On a world very similar to Renaissance Italy, a fever strikes the country for one year, killing many adults and maiming the young who survive. Those survivors are often left with physical scarring and are shunned by society as malfettos. But some survivors have found strange powers awakening within - they call themselves the young elites. When downtrodden Adelina, a survivor who lost her eye and found her appearance changed after the fever many years previous, is sold into sexual slavery by her father, she runs. The Young Elites save her - recognizing that she has a power. But she catches the attention of the lead Inquisitor - and he will use Adelina against the Young Elites in order to do away with their menace once and for all.
My first disappointment with the Young Elites was the very safe choices made by Lu with this very illogical world. It is based on Renaissance Italy but on another planet (e.g., descriptions of 3 moons rising). There are inquisitors and nearly everything else is fairly close to the renaissance, including names and other Italian conventions. So it doesn't make sense to me that they are speaking English but using Italian language conventions - e.g., "Mi Adelinita" Either they speak English or they speak Italian - not both. Also problematic for me is that we have inquisitors and Italian Renaissance but not Catholicism. It really feels like Lu took the safe/easy way out so as not to offend Catholics (Is anyone going to say the Borgias weren't wicked?).
Characters also had issues for me. Adelina is fairly broad as a character - either underreacting or overreacting to every situation so that I never really understood her character. Of course, the boys are all wickedly beautiful so nothing new there. Lu tries to give them some depth (they aren't quite prince charming perfect) but we never really get to see any depth or nuances in them.
Logic holes (such as the language melange) were frustrating. E.g., a story that relies on our main character being hunted but going about in plain sight doesn't make sense when you have a girl noticeable by having only one eye and white hair. I find it hard to believe ANYONE thought she would blend into society anywhere without being recognized immediately. Even more so in an upscale brothel that catered to the people she was supposed to be hiding from. But when you combine that issue with an x-men type of story where people develop strange powers, you have to make them really different and interesting. There's so much that can be done or imagined in this scenario and The Young Elites was such a let down in this regard. At one point, after the elaborate plot at the ending, there was such an easier "Indiana Jones just shoots the sword wielding guy and walks off" type of answer with those superpowersthat the whole ending was silly. A Wil E Coyote answer to the roadrunner.
Most problematic for me were the cliches. How many times do we have to have the 'character overhears her love interest saying he doesn't love her to someone else' misunderstanding before someone questions an author's writing chops? And during that scene, as I was listening to the Audible version, it became so hackneyed that I said out loud every give straight sentences of dialogue only to have the characters say the exact same thing. If I can predict dialogue, it's been done too often.
So while not a terrible book by any means, there wasn't a lot here for me to love and I pretty much went on autopilot while listening. Something to do the dishes or yardwork by since I wasn't going to miss anything important (or if I did, I've probably read it in another book anyway). Wasted superpowers and honestly a wasted setting (so much political intrigue from the Italian Renaissance completely wasted or never used in any depth).
Reviewed from the Audible version. The narrator tended to sound a bit too young American and really stumbled over the Italian names.
I've been avoiding hit titles because I'm always worried they'll disappoint. This did not. Lu crafts story deliciously. Also, she's super mean to feels, which I appreciate in an author.
I enjoy paranormal-action books with a tint of romance. I hang out in the YA section, but often venture into adult novels.
The premise of the story had the potential to be amazing. It's packed with action and adventure and could be cool. The issue is that the main character comes off as a crying little girl who constantly complains about the troubles she's gone through.
No. The author is great and I like this type of story. But I will not waste my time with a sequel. I wish I hadn't bought this nor finished it.
They were great. The story wasn't.
Every single one of the scenes where she whined about her past other than the first scene where it was necessary. After a while, it seemed like all the character could do is whine about how she never had it easy in her life. I found myself telling her to suck it up and attempt to control your future rather than just whining about how her childhood was so bad.
This one was hard for me to get through. A complete lack of character development made it hard to care about what happened to them. Not what I was expecting after loving the Legend series so much...
high school English teacher
The story kept me engaged with enough twists to keep it interesting and the main character has depth but the hoped for redemption never comes and while it may eventually come in a subsequent novel, there wasn't enough goodness here to keep me reading. Ultimately I just felt the heroine should stop agonizing internally so very often and find a deeper strength than just one of mystical power and manipulation. I wanted her to choose the good and yet most of what is offered here is just further darkness. Not as hopeful as her previous series and therefore ultimately not as compelling. Very well read by the narrator(s), however.
This was an accidental purchase, I had intended to purchase the other series and while listening to the first chapter or so I was thinking what the heck is going on then I stopped and looked up the title to realize and gotten the books mixed up . . My bad.
First off the narrator wasn't half bad, I really dislike the title chars haters name and the mixing accent Mia and extra it's just seemed natural. The story was also so so, I like premise, and the dark side of it which made Adelina a unique title character, I really enjoyed the Enzo plots and toward the end I became very concerned with the stories direction and began to think I didn't like but right at the end it took a turn. I could see the direction in the epilogue and now I can say I will want to see what happens next. I hope to see better character development in the next book.
Marie Lu is a fantastic author, and the young man reading does very well with his small parts, they steal the show, but the main narrator makes every awesome action scene and tense interaction sound like a pop Sarah-Dessen-esque contemporary novel. It did nto fit the mood of the book at all.
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