Book Review: THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu

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I guess Marie Lu just isn’t my thing. As with Legend, the blurb made this series sound like something I’d love. The opening chapters of the book (sometimes the worst part of a YA series) were intriguing, and I rushed to read the rest only to find myself slowing down halfway through. By the end of the story, I found that I didn’t really care about any of the characters and didn’t have enough curiosity to pick up the next book.

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         The publisher synopsis for this book (above) is ridiculously long but doesn’t actually give you a great idea of what the book’s about. Here’s the deal: our heroine, Adelina Amouteru survived this fantasy childhood image that makes you a malformed outcast but possibly gives you magical powers. She falls in with the “young elites,” the resident rag-tag group of extraordinary misfit teens led by an exiled prince. As Adelina tries to figure out who is using her and who she can trust (hint: it’s no one) her power grows and she starts spending a lot of time thinking about romance and very little thinking about the little sister she’s supposed to be saving.

         It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what fell short for me besides the fact that none of it felt real. Obviously fantasy is fantasy, but I could never buy into the world of The Young Elites as anything other than a fabrication meant to create a Dashing, Wounded Cinnamon Roll romantic interest. The characters felt flimsy and once I started anticipating the story beats, I couldn’t stop.

         Usually, when I find myself turned off by YA fantasy, it’s because the protagonist was bland or brittle, but I actually liked Adelina a fair amount. The “blood fever” idea makes for an interesting backstory for Adelina as a character and the world as whole, and I appreciate the fact that her appearance was actually as extraordinary and off-putting as so many YA protagonists think theirs is. Teren has the makings of an engaging character as well, though he didn’t really seem to go anywhere, even as the narration revealed supposed “twists” in his backstory.

         I’ve seen, of course, plenty of five-star rave reviews for this book, so it certainly has its readers. I’m sure the right reader would enjoy the romantic tension and dramatic training sequences. This book just isn’t for me.

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