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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

An explosive new series from New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, Marie Lu “By permitting her characters some grand failures, she raises the stakes in the best way possible…There is clearly more to know, and I look forward to it. This is a world worth revisiting.”—The New York Times Book Review Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the d…

The Young Elites

by Marie Lu

Overall Book Review:

Bestselling author of Legend trilogy, Marie Lu, creates an eerily provocative and alluring read with her latest work, The Young Elites. Also predicated to be a trilogy, the first book in the series abandons the dystopian framework that Lu begat in Legend, in lieu of a fantasy interpretation of a Renaissance-like era.

Inciting readers into this juncture is ominous protagonist Adelina Amouteru. A young woman whose only nurturing came when fury erupted and darkness dominated–a curious character to be sure. Those who like a cut and dry good guy/bad guy dynamic will have a puzzling time and conflicting feelings about Adelina. Though Adelina’s story is told through first person point of view, secondary characters have insights every few chapters that are narrated as third person, adding a well-rounded perspective to the novel.

Magical elements embrace readers who are fond of fantasy, and the reinterpretation of a Renaissance-like era is a fun spin for those who enjoy period pieces that are not accurate and contain flair. The magical component plays out as unusual powers possessed by young people and feels akin to a TV show, Heroes, that is regaining popularity lately. It was as if Tim Kring (prominent writer and producer of said show) decided to take the concept and instead of Heroes Reborn, it would be Heroes Renaissance.

Marie Lu has said herself that this series is about Adalina’s journey towards villainy, so don’t expect any humor or go-lucky moments. This is a very gloomy read, and although beautifully written, it takes on a dark tone. If the epilogue is any indication of what to expect in the next novel, The Rose Society, then it will only get bleaker.

 “‘You have goodness in your heart,’ he says. ‘But your darkness overwhelms it all; your desire to hurt, destroy, and avenge is more powerful than your desire to love, help, and light the way.’”

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name.

Violence/Gore:  Character awaits death by execution; somewhat gory detail of character’s eye being removed; mention of parent breaking child’s finger; secondhand report of gruesome deaths; character is tackled, arm held aggressively, hair pulled, and slapped by parent; character threatens to kill another character; ghostly apparition terrorizes character; minor detail of violent death, character’s skull is crushed; mob throws objects at character; extended violent somewhat gory scene about 1 page characters fight with swords and daggers; extended violent scene about 1 page character remembers as a child parent forcing them to hurt a creature, then parent breaks child’s finger; mention of character’s injuries; secondhand report of violent deaths; character assesses their injuries; secondhand report of violent killing; character recalls hurting themselves on thorny plant, blood mentioned; character has murderous thoughts; secondhand report of violence; threat of being killed; character feels threatened and desires to kill another character; injured prostitute reveals he/she was hurt by a client; report of violent death; extended scene about 1 page character has creepy dream; extended fantasy violence scene about 8 pages character is attacked with other characters’ magical powers inflicting minor injuries; secondhand report of violent murders; character enjoys harming themselves, character whips themselves; character threatens to hurt/kill character’s friend/loved one about 6x; characters spar with weapons; character threatens another character, character has violent thoughts towards another character; character is shoved; rock is thrown at character; character is threatened with being beheaded; character attacks with arrows; character is threatened 2x; extended violent fantasy scene about 3 pages character is attacked with magic and weapons causing injuries; brief non-descriptive scene character watches others being burned at the stake; character threatens a group of people; extended scene 1 page characters duel with weapons; character uses magic to kill, blood mentioned; extended scene about 1 page non graphic violent death; explosion causes destruction of property; forceful shove; extended scene about 1 page characters fight using magic and weapons; mocking threat; secondhand report of killing; character kills another character, somewhat descriptive; exchange of threats; character witnesses violent carnage, non-explicit detail of violent death (2x); character attacks another character with violent actions and threats causing injury; extended scene about 1 page character causes another character to be in pain by using magic; secondhand report of murder; character threatens character with death and threatens a group of people; characters make plans to use violence in attack; extended scene about 10 pages characters fight using magic and weapons, injuries mentioned throughout, bloody death, death and destruction in crowd; mention of character’s injuries; in fury character inflicts injuries upon themselves, acknowledgment that executioner has killed multiple people that day; prisoner admits to murder and adultery; extended somewhat gory scene character maims another character then allows animal to eat injured character in front of crowd.

Sex/Nudity:  Parent is offered money in exchange for underage daughter becoming another man’s mistress; extended scene about 2 pages married character is flirtatious with another character kissing, encouraging them to come to their bedroom later, man notices females breasts; wife mentions husbands infidelities, implications that she is also unfaithful; character is hid in a brothel, referred to as pleasure center; character sees a picture of man and woman embracing intimately; character revealed to be a prostitute, exchanges sexual acts for money and gifts; implication of homosexual activities as character sees another man in male prostitute’s bed; character recalls having to flirt with potential suitors, seeing lust in their eyes, knowing they wanted her as a mistress not a wife; injured prostitute reveals he was hurt by a male client; character briefly thinks about what it would be like to be intimate (implied sexual activity) with another character; prostitute reveals how much he/she’s paid an hour; character acknowledges who won the winning bid for their virginity; implication that a character was sexually intimate with another character; few times in which character kisses another character on cheek in greeting or departure; kiss on cheek; extended scene about 1 page character feels romantic/passionate about another character; memory of the witnessing of a proposal and kiss; kiss on cheek; kiss on lips; playful flirtatious behavior among group; kiss; extended scene about 1.5 pages descriptive kissing, touching/caressing; characters kiss, caress, and share a bed (non-sexual); character admits to adultery; implication of lesbian behavior as female character fondly remembers kissing another female character, implication of relationship.

Mature Subject Matter:

Parent abusing (mental/emotional/physical) child, prejudice, murder, civil unrest, prostitution, homosexuality, secret society.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Use of brandy for illness; adults drink wine; mention of drunk character; acknowledgment of drunks; wine served at party, 16-year-old character gets tipsy; alcohol can be smelled on character.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.