“The Young Elites” Trilogy by Marie Lu

Star Rating:  4 Out Of 5 Stars ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis: 10 years ago, the blood fever swept through the lands.  It killed every adult infected, but some of the children survived.  Children who survived this plague were “marked” with a permanent and usually obvious change to their appearance.  In some countries, these children would come to be known as malfettos, or abominations.  Many believed malfettos caused their families misfortune and were treated with disdain at best, violence at worst.

A small number of malfetto children developed supernatural abilities.  These children became known as the Young Elites.  A rebel group known as The Daggers rose from the ashes of those malfettos found by the King’s men and burnt at the stake for being abominations.  This group actively seeks out malfettos with special abilities, trains them, and protects them from further harm.

Adelina is a malfetto.  She has spent her life being physically and emotionally abused by her father, while her non-malfetto sister was doted on and treated with love and kindness.  When Adelina’s father finds a way to rid himself of his malfetto daughter, he takes the opportunity, selling Adelina as a mistress.

In her grief and rage at being sold as a sex slave by her own father, Adelina finds that she has the supernatural ability to create illusions.  In this discovery, her father is accidentally killed and she is sentenced to die for being a dangerous malfetto.  The Daggers save Adelina and decide to train her to help others in need.  But, is Adelina too damaged from her childhood to be of any help?

Opinion:  In many ways, this is your typical YA Fantasy series.  It is an easy read, a flowing story, and fits the basic outlines and structures of YA books. So, if you are a person who enjoys YA Fantasy, then you’d enjoy this overall.

What makes this series stand out, and what impressed me most, was the lack of a clear hero and villain.  Almost every story has this!  But, especially YA fantasy novels. There is a hero – usually a stereotypical female that is similar to every other YA heroine in every other YA book.  Not this book. Oh, no.

This book tricks you into thinking this is the case. It tricks you into thinking that Adelina is your heroine. You are incorrect, and you are made aware of this relatively quickly.  So, does this mean Adelina is actually the villain? No. It doesn’t. Adelina is both the heroine and the villain. The good and the evil.  But, so is every other character.

That’s right. There is no clearly defined hero and villain. In fact, every single character in this series could, with absolute certainty, be classified as both.  None are perfectly aligned into either category.  Every character is both good and evil and behaves in both ways.  The only exception to this would likely be Adelina’s sister, Violetta – the only purely good character in the series.

I found this incredibly interesting.  You don’t often get to read from the perspective of the villain of a story, and Adelina spends quite a bit of her time as the primary antagonist – and you read 90 percent of the series from her point of view.  It is an utterly refreshing change of pace for a YA book, and although I fully expect to never see such a change again, I am certainly holding out for it.  Flawed characters are far more interesting to read than clearly defined heroes and villains.  Bravo, Marie Lu!

Goodreads Link: “The Young Elites” Trilogy by Marie Lu

Amazon.com Link: “The Young Elites” Trilogy by Marie Lu