This book is hard to rate.
You see, the beginning is wonderful. I read the first chapters and loved them so much I couldn’t wait for the book itself. But the way the author wrote this story bothered me a lot. It’s more a matter of personal taste, but I really hate it when the MC is forced to become a spy to save someone or to get something for themselves (or for anyone really), and this is what happens with Adelina right after she is saved by the Dagger Society. The Inquisition has her sister and then puf!, she’s a spy. I was upset. Really upset.
I don’t even know where this hatred for this kind of plotline came from, but I think I can blame Uglies for a good part of it. Like I said, it’s a matter of personal taste; I disliked The Hunger Games for a similar reason (with so many options of plotlines did Collins really have to use the fake romance? Meh), and these tree books (The Young Elites, Uglies and The Hunger Games) would have been so much better if they had put aside such simplistic and bland plotlines. But, oh well, nothing can be done anymore.
Other things bothered me too. First, I couldn’t connect with Adelina as much as I thought I would, and I blame the writing for that. This book would’ve been so much better if written in third person that I get sad when I think about it. Don’t get me wrong; first person is fine, but I often find myself not taking seriously what the character is thinking or saying when I read books with this kind of narrative. It's like... I don't know, I just don't trust what the character is saying. When Adelina was rambling about the darkness inside of her, for example, I couldn't help but think, uh, really?, because it sounds so, hm, petty when someone says this kind of stuff about themselves. I know it’s not even a good reason, but ugh, I really can’t.
Second, the romance. No, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, when compared to what I usually see in YA novels, Adelina and Enzo’s relationship was amazing. It’s good, really, but I’m too picky when it comes to romance. I have to understand why a character fall in love with another, I have to see what makes the love interest so amazing, and it didn’t happen in The Young Elites. I know, Enzo is a nice guy, but that’s all. They didn’t even interact that much, so yeah, the whole thing didn’t work for me.
Okay, I didn’t like the writing, the spy plotline and the romance, but dang, I really loved everything else.
I loved the relationship between the characters. Adelina and her sister’s, Violetta, was the richest of the book, and it was so interesting to see how Adelina dealt with her feelings for Violetta during the story. I also loved the friendship between Enzo and Rafaelle (my heart aches a little when I think about them, their relationship is so nice) and the one between Rafaelle and Adelina as well (because girls and pretty boys can be friends yo). Ah, really, everyone’s relationship is so heartwarming, and it makes so happy because friendship is usually really fake and bland in YA novels (or in any kind of novel, unfortunately). Aside from Lynn Flewelling’s Luck in the Shadows, I don’t read a book with so well done relationships since C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince and Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice. Kudos to Marie Lu for that.
I also liked the characters. My favorite by far was Raffaele, but I liked Adelina too. She was different from our normal YA female MC; cruel sometimes, full of anger and darkness, and even though she usually felt guilty after doing some bad stuff, she didn’t really hate any of it. Unfortunately, most of the minor characters weren’t as well developed as the main ones. I lost count of how many times I had to go back to the beginning to see which Young Elite did what, and let me tell you, it was really annoying and distracting.
Anyway, what made me like this book was the ending. The ending proved that Marie Lu isn’t writing Adelina and Enzo’s love story, but Adelina’s, and I loved it. I loved it so much that, out of the 29 books I’ve read this year, The Young Elites became the second to make me want to read the sequel right way. I can’t say much, but I really, really loved what happened. Kudos to Marie Lu once more.
Sadly (or not), The Young Elites also became the first book of the year that made me fear for my favorite character’s life in the next volume. Something tells me that not so nice stuff will happen to him eventually. Well.
Anyway, The Young Elites won’t make it to my favorite books list, but it definitely is fighting for its place as my favorite YA novel of all time. Maybe if the spy plotline didn’t exist… But, like I said before, nothing can be done anymore. I’ll be checking Marie Lu’s work in the future; she convinced me as a writer, and I’ll be waiting (not so) patiently for The Young Elites's sequel.3.0 stars.