Review : The Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Young Elites (Book 1) by Marie Lu. 9780545135719. October 7, 2014. Gr 9-12.
Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy is one of my favorites, so when an advance copy of the first book in her new series came across my desk, I squealed a bit. (Not too professional, I know, but in our department, we all do it. We also struggle not to fight over books, and to restrain our jealousy when someone else gets first shot at a manuscript or ARC.)
I really wanted Lu’s new story to captivate me as much as her debut did, but how could I like Adelina and Enzo from The Young Elites as much as I do June and Day from Legend? (Am I the only who worries about things like this?)
Thirteen years ago, when Adelina and Enzo were still children, a devastating plague swept through their world. Every adult who caught it died, as did many of the children. Of those that survived, many ended up scarred or marked in some way. These malfettos are scorned by society, beaten, and even killed, and most are shunned even by their family.
In some of these marked ones, the plague has brought forth special powers. Most of these malfettos hide their powers, knowing that if they are discovered, they will be turned in to the Inquisition—and executed by burning. But others, though small in number, are determined to fight back—against their families, against the Inquisition, and against the king, who blames the malfettos for the problems of the kingdom. They are known as the Young Elites.
Adelina is a malfetto, and though she has never exhibited any special powers, her father has never stopped hoping that she will, so that he can use them to gain power and riches for himself. She overhears his plans for her and tries to escape, but when he chases her down, something happens—and her father is killed. Adelina is convicted of murder and sentenced to burn.
Of course, she doesn’t die—or the book would be only 35 pages long. And, of course, she ends up meeting a group of Young Elites who discover her powers and train her to use and control them.
Earning the trust of others and learning to accept one’s self are two of the main themes in this book. Do the Young Elites really trust Adelina? And can she trust them…or herself?
This book is very different from the Legend series. The first series was set in the future, with a science fiction feel to it, while the world of The Young Elites is earlier, more primitive. June and Day’s world is familiar—despite the changes, we recognize California, Colorado, and the rest; Adelina and Enzo, however, live in a world with magical powers and even a fantastical beast in it. The Young Elites feels darker, its bad guys more barbarous than the ruthless and greedy villains in Legend.
But the tales are similar, too, with compelling protagonists and secondary characters, a fascinating world, and a gripping story.
So which do I like better? It’s really not fair to compare the beginning title in a series to a completed trilogy, but Lu’s new series confirms that she is more than a one-hit wonder. The first book of The Young Elites series will not be out until October 7, but I am eagerly awaiting book #2!