the young elites

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This book was not made to comfort or reassure the reader.

It´s dark, gruesome and honest. But that´s exactly what makes it nearly impossible to set the book down. Everything is written in a very straightforward manner, without embellishments of the truth or sugarcoating anything. The characters aren´t likable and it seems they were not made to appeal to the reader, but it shows this universe´s reality. It´s harsh and molds even the kindest people into rough versions of themselves.

We have our main character, Adelina, who is very much an anti-hero and an unreliable narrator. Her mind leans toward the dark and the twisted, because she thrives in fear and chaos. She is constantly trying to do the right thing, but her powers made her into someone who´s strongest amidst ruin, and when the situation is at its worse, she´s at her best. She suffers through a lot, from losing an eye to losing her mother, from being abused to being betrayed… and she just keeps it all in. Adelina thinks very little of herself, but as the story goes on, she becomes strong and confident, even if she doesn´t feel it. But, she´s been bottling in all her darkness and wicked thoughts for a very long while, something that leads to terrible consequences…

Everyone tends to be a little creepy in this story, but that´s alright, because it just sets the mood for all the overly creepy things that keep happening. While reading this book, I was constantly surprised by the wickedness of the world and its people. There´s Enzo with his blood-red hair and mysterious aura, stunning Raffaele and his uneasiness around Adelina, “righteous” Teren who´s just downright psychotic and delicate Violetta with all her secrets. This book is just like a box of Bertie Bott´s Every Flavour Beans; completely diverse and you never know what flavor you´re going to get (you might think you´re getting a lemon-flavored one but oops, no, it´s earwax).

I love, love, love how most of the characters had brown and olive skin, and how each of them had some kind of unique feature (Adelina with her one eye and silver hair, Enzo is a mighty red head, Gemma and her purple markings, etc). The cool thing is that it all feels very Italian-y, from the vocabulary to the scenery. But at the same time, it´s a completely different world, not just because people have powers, but because it really is a different universe with three moons and strange creatures that definitely do not exist in our world. The cities are so exotic and mystic, with dome towers and marble temples, water canals and enormous waterfalls…it´s gorgeous.

I´m always up for the whole master-trainee relationship, since it always leads to cool scenes with character development and a whole lot of butt kicking, but I really wish we could´ve seen more of Adelina training with the other Young Elites, not just Enzo and Raffaele. I loved how the others started growing fond of Adelina and she of them, even if none of them actually trusted her (I mean, she didn´t trust them either, so…). To be honest, I think most of the Elites were scared of her and her dark powers.

I didn´t quite like her relationship with Enzo. I mean, while reading it, it felt right, but at the same time, I could never pinpoint him. Was he attracted to her because of her body? Her darkness? Her powers? Her award-winning personality? Who knows? It could be any of them or all of them and I wouldn´t be able to tell. I think the two of them would have to have spent a little more time together without hitting each other for us readers to (somewhat) understand them.

Despite the fact that Adelina´s relationship with her father and her love/hate relationship with Violetta shaped her into becoming the unreliable narrator we all know and love, her interactions with the Young Elites (especially Enzo and Raffaelle) made her into the badass anti-hero we learned to respect and applaud. She lived through the mockery and the prejudice and the sneers, something not all malfettos can say.

It took me a while to really get into this book, mostly because I was just getting out of a mighty reading slump, but THEN, things got really, really interesting. And by the end of the story, everything we thought we knew about it was flipped upside down. It´s crazy! And although I think it´s already a given, I should say that tears were shed and my delicate heart could not handle it. Suffice to say that I expect Adelina to do a whole lot of butt-kicking in the next book.