The Young Elites started with a premise that should have been wonderfully distinct: disfigured heroine on an alternate universe planet, lack of soppy ..Show More »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.
A Guide to break down a YA Protagonist in One Book
The surmise is basically similar to X-Men. But in this case, some sort of disease left children with extraordinary powers. The people of Adelina's cou..Show More »ntry, however, see these children as cursed and have actively hunted them down.
But to be honest, it isn't the plot or the summary that attracted me to this book.
If you've read a LOT of YA novels and you find yourself unable to relate to the heroes and heroines who rise above the pain and prejudice directed at them their whole life, then I believe this book is for you.
The main draw of this book is Adelina and how her story progresses throughout the novel. She starts off the way a lot of YA characters start out. Being in a world wherein she's a hated minority, she still has people she cares about and still longs for a deep and lasting connection with people. Halfway into the book though, we find out just how unique Adelina is from other YA protagonists..
So if you want an exploration into the hows and whys someone (especially a YA heroine) could make very morally ambiguous choices, then give this YA book a try.