- Release Date: October 9, 2014
- Genre: Historical Fantasy
- Narrators: Carla Corvo, Lannon Killea
- Length: 10 hours 9 minutes
- Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
I don’t fangirl for many authors, but if there is one author I will consider flailing over it’s Marie Lu. Her Legend series is one we’ve been talking about on this blog since day one. The series has great story building, action and interesting female characters. Needless to say when I heard about The Young Elites I was excited to get back into Lu’s head.
The Young Elites takes place in an alternate (vaguely Italian) 14th century where children who survived a fatal blood fever are known as malfettos and are seen as abominations, particularly by the governing monarchy. However some malfettos have developed special abilities and are known as the Young Elites; and they are fighting back.When 16-year-old Adelina Amoutero escapes from her abusive father, a series of events finds her among a group of these Young Elites who live in a brothel while they plan to overthrow the government.
At first this book felt very derivative, it has a lot of the fantasy hallmarks; people with special powers as a vague metaphor for racism/homphobia, evil monarchs, crazy colored hair and eyes along with the typical YAJerk Dad, and No Capable Adults. But the more I listened the more I noticed how this book also subverts a lot of the YA conventions. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but a couple of moves surprised me. This world is a little crueler than most and Adelina is a little more rougher around the edges. There were a couple of scenes in this book that shocked me.
The writing and worldbuilding fit exactly with what I like about Lu. She’s building a lot of cultures and societies here, but I could see everything she was describing. Lu is strongest when she is writing action scenes and the action scene in the end of this was all kinds of craziness.
The format of this book is interesting because we mostly have Adelina’s first-person, but we occasionally get the third person POV of two male characters which I think added an interesting depth to the story.
I highly suggest this on audio, the narrators are both amazing, but especially Carla Corvo who does a bulk of the book. She does really solid acting and her voices were awesome. I liked her version of the male characters better than the male narrators version. Her narration bumps this review from a 3.5 to a 4 for me. The audiobook also helps with some of the name pronunciations, although they did go into this weird Giada De Laurentis thing where she would randomly use a strong Italian accent for some words like AdeLEEENA or malFET-TOE,
This book does have its faults.The plot does feels a little clunky at times and Adelina can get a little Too Stupid To Live with the things she keeps from the Young Elites. Also there are these epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter from “in world” books or stories that felt like too much.
I’m still in a bit of a media hangover from the Nickelodeon’s Avatar series and this book had some of those elements I liked about that series with it’s horde of ambiguously brown characters battling a young ruler for people with abilities.
The Young Elites created a complex and large world I can’t wait to get back into. I haven’t read an epilogue that had me pandering for the sequel like this since The Raven Boys.
Okay, off to scroll through the 488 pins on Marie Lu’s Young Elites’ Inspiration Pinterest Board.
It seems to me like the name of this sequel is minor spoiler for what happens in this book.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.