Adelina Amouteru just wants to be normal. She wishes time will go back to when her family was intact and still loved and cared for her. Instead, she’s treated as an abomination and damaged goods. Adelina is far from normal. She’s what is known as a Malfetto, a survivor from a deadly blood fever that plagued and killed off a majority of the youth population in her country. While some would consider surviving a grave illness a blessing, in Adelina’s country, it’s considered a curse. Those who survive are left with strange markings or deformations. For Adelina, half her face was ruined by fever, but it’s not the markings that make others afraid. It’s what the survivors can suddenly do after overcoming the illness, which gives them the name of “the young elites.”
The Young Elites is a new ongoing trilogy by the bestselling author of the Legend series, Marie Lu. It is a high fantasy young adult novel that is reminiscent of the X-Men set in a Renaissance Europe. Stories about powerfully gifted young adults have been a hot topic and theme in young adult novels lately (i.e. Red Queen and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Particular Children), but Marie Lu does something different with her characters and story. The protagonist Adelina is no heroine. She and her fellow Malfettos are given certain powers and gifts from the blood fever, some of which can make them very deadly. The normal populations who have not been affected by the fever fear them and thus the Malfettos are hunted down. Although, there is a secret group of survivors who are fighting back known as the Dagger Society and Adelina wants to find them. Her reasons though aren’t to save her country from its corrupt monarchy or other Malfettos. Adelina just wants to survive and she’ll do anything to make it happen even if it means betraying out her own kind.
The world in The Young Elites is a much darker experience than most YA novels tend to explore. The novel, while mainly told from Adelina’s perspective, is actually also told in the perspectives of a couple other characters. Marie Lu even includes quotes that seem as if they are written by various authors within the world at the top of each chapter that reflect a theme to be expanded in the chapter. This is mostly to give its readers a feel for what each of the characters really think and why they act the way they do in the story, which can probably make some of the Game of Thrones characters proud for their thirst for power. Overall, it also shows that everyone has a bit of darkness within them.
The dark writing style and shifts in perspectives might not be for everyone, but for those looking for something different, unexpected and fast-paced than The Young Elites just might be something worth to pick up. There is a little romance, but in a world full of fear, betrayal and throne-seeking ladies and lords, it serves as only a small piece of something bigger and perhaps not so innocent because no one is truly wholly good in The Young Elites.