Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Teen Review: Fantasy

The Young Elites, by Marie Lu, is a YA fantasy book consisting of 355 pages (including the epilogue at the end). It is the first book of a series. The main character is a 16-year-old girl named Adelina. She is a survivor of a fatal illness known as the blood fever that put an end to many lives across her nation, including her mother's. Although most who were infected by the illness perished, some survived. The survivors of the blood fever are referred to as malfettos. Malfettos are easily recognized in the society due to markings the blood fever left on their bodies affecting their physical appearance. However, the minority of survivors were left with more than just physical changes, they also inhabited extraordinary powers. Malfettos with powers are known as "The Young Elites."

Adelina inherits both of these side effects from the blood fever. She now has silver glimmering hair replacing her once black, coarse hair, as well as scars, a missing eye, and powers. The government in this society looks down upon malfettos, blaming them for poverty and disorder in the nation, and accusing them of being demonic for surviving such a horrid illness, so there are attempts to kill off every living malfetto. Consequently, the Young Elites become involved with "The Dagger Society," members of which strive to overthrow the tyrannical government.

In a series of events, Adelina escapes her abusive father and becomes involved with the Dagger Society, but must prove herself worthy before she is given approval to fight alongside highly skilled elites. Soon after, the mission of saving their society becomes urgent and crucial. Throughout her journey, Adelina must overcome her agonizing past, self-loathing, and all the hurt her father previously inflicted on her, in order to save what she truly loves. The unanswered question is, Will the lingering darkness from her harrowing childhood that is growing in her heart prevent Adelina from reaching her full potential? 

Although this was Marie Lu's first YA fantasy book, it did not disappoint at all. This book takes the average insecurities and the developing self-confidence of a teenager to the next level by adding high stakes and extraordinary powers to the story. Every obstacle that presented itself, as well as the ending, was completely unpredictable. Adelina, the protagonist, is not your usual hero, she has darkness in her too and the desire to dominate. In reality, not everyone is transformed into a wholeheartedly good person after overcoming an obstacle, or becomes a flawless hero, and it was a breathe of fresh air to see this different perspective demonstrated in the book. This made it a lot easier to relate to her, as she is very complex. Adelina has easily become one of my favorite characters I've encountered in a book. The world building could have been further developed for the reader as well as some characters who were somewhat flat. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars and I believe it would be most enjoyed by mature teens, as there is a bit of violence. Over all, it was an entertaining and exciting book with coherent writing. It is definitely worth reading!

Reviewed by Melody, grade 11

Editor's note: I believe that Marie Lu herself did this cool drawing of Adelina; I searched and searched for an attribution and couldn't find one. She did say that she had done some drawings, so hopefully this is one. If it's by someone else and you know who, please email me so I can properly attribute it! As an artist myself, I hate it when people "borrow" my work and neglect to mention that I made it!

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