The Young Elites

Last year I read Marie Lu’s debut, Legend, and the following two novels in that trilogy, Prodigy and Champion. Learning she had a new book coming out, with the name The Young Elites, made me interested to say the least since I really liked both her distinct writing and the stories she created. I hoped, but wondered, if this new story could be as good as the one involving Day and June. I was both slightly surprised and satisfied when I opened this one up.

Ten years ago the Blood fever swept down the land and many people got sick and died. Of the children who survived, a lot was scarred one way or the other. They’re called malfetto’s and no one in the society likes them. Both Adelina, her sister Violetta and their mother got sick. Out of the three, their mother was the only one who died. Violetta didn’t get any scars at all, but Adelina did and she’s the malfetto of the family. It’s believed that certain malfetto’s have strange powers and can do things no normal person can. Though her father has spent many years trying to lure such power out of Adelina, none has ever shown up. Until now.

This is something quite different from Lu’s earlier three books, but just as good. She has the ability to give all of her characters very distinct voices, which I noticed when reading Legend. Here, we get the majority of the story told to us by Adelina, but some parts are seen by two other important characters; Enzo and Teren. They’re all so unique and far from every author out there can create such believable people, which only goes to show how good Lu’s writing is.

I thought the story was great through and through. It’s really about a girl who has spent her whole life being used and hurt by other people and one day she discovers a gift she didn’t know she had. And all of a sudden she can give back to all those who has wronged her in the past, and all those who tries to cross her path now. I like the idea of that and it’s clear quite early that this isn’t the story of a heroine – it’s the story of a villain. That made me like the novel even more.

Adelina is later recruited by a team of malfetto’s who all have powers of their own; they belong to a group of people called The Young Elites. Adelina is happy to finally have found a place where she belongs, but it doesn’t take long before the people around her to realize that her power is stronger than theirs. Her power is darker than theirs. And her power might be the thing that destroys them all.

You get to see her struggle to fit in, with her family, with The Young Elites and then with herself. Trying to understand who she is. The hate she feels is so deep it darkens everything around her. Her heart, her soul, her ability to make decisions. She’s very egoistic in a world that’s never cared for her. Adelina grows throughout the book, but I’m not sure if it’s in a good or bad way. She gets stronger and colder and even though she tries to do the right thing it somehow turns out badly anyway. She’s a villain in every sense, and maybe the one she’ll ruin the most is herself. Adelina is a great read though, there are other wonderful characters and events along the way, but Adelina carries us there. I had so much fun following her way of thought.

This is certainly different, both from what I’m used to read (were everyone’s the hero whereas here everyone is a villain) and from the Legend trilogy. This will also be a series of three and I’m very curious of what’s going to happen to Adelina in the second installment (The Rose Society – out in October). One thing is for certain, though. Marie Lu certainly brought her A-game to this one. Excellent.


As you probably know by now, I’m a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. I’ve been waiting for the last installment, Winter, for some time now and I wasn’t very pleased when finding out that the release date had been pushed back from January to November of 2015. But when I found out the reason, that Meyer had written another book in the series featuring the evil Lunar Queen Levana, curiosity overtook me and I sat back to wait for the months to pass by so that November could finally arrive, with Fairest in my hands. It was everything I could’ve hoped for, and more.

Levana is the second daughter of the King and Queen of Luna, behind her stunning older sister Channary. All Levana wants is to marry someone good and be loved – and she already has her eyes on a certain man. But when the King and Queen are murdered and Channary takes the throne, Levana realizes that her sister doesn’t have the country’s best interest at heart. She cares more for suitors and dresses than she does for the survival of her people. A few years later, Channary gives birth to a lovely little girl, who will one day take her mother’s place as Queen of Luna. Levana, now married to the man she loves, who incidentally doesn’t share her feelings but have no choice in the matter, knows for certain that the child only will grow up to be exactly like her mother. So when Channary suddenly takes ill and passes away, Levana sees her chance of taking what she feels belongs to her. Luna and the throne. The only thing standing in her way is a three year old girl and that’s nothing a little fire can’t fix. After all, no one loves Luna like Levana does.

This is an excellent story with the villain at the helm. The Levana portrayed in the first three novels in the series (Cinder, Scarlet and Cress) is cold, poised and crueler than anyone. I’ve always disliked her for the choices she’s made, but I’ve also wondered what made her act the way she did. Fairest is her story, talking about a world where everyone lies and deceit one another and were Levana hasn’t felt any love, not even from her own parents. Her sister is sweet, but has an even crueler side than Levana, it just shows a little differently and no one knows that better than the little sister. So to get this look into her life, what made and shaped her to be the horrible person she is fifteen years later, was really wonderful.

The story starts when Levana is only sixteen and madly in love with one of the palace guards, who’s married and about to become a father. But things happen, which Levana only views as fate, and she snares the guard to her, in belief that if they only get together he will realize that he loves her and needs her. It's obviously not a surprise that she thought all she needed to do was to use her mind controlling Lunar gift on him and they then would live happily ever after, when all around her that’s what people do. Control each other with their minds to get what they want. And Levana, growing up in a family that never showed her any love, doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be. She believes that what she feels and what she has with the guard is real love. And it very well might have been – from her side, but certainly not his. It was heartbreaking to see that all she wanted, all she needed, was to be loved and everyone pushed her away. She tried her best in every situation, but already at sixteen she was so screwed up that she couldn’t tell the difference between what was real and what wasn’t.

It’s hardly a spoiler to say that the reason for Levana’s cold exterior and her cruelty is based on her childhood. Always being pushed away, always being told she wasn’t good enough, always knowing that she wouldn’t, and didn’t, matter, never being truly seen and truly loved. It pushed her to be heartless and cold, to choose her people and country before her family. A man couldn’t love her, but a country could and it needed her, which became her salvation. She poured everything into ruling Luna, but like most people in high positions, she became greedy.

Meyer’s writing was wonderful, as always. It did bother me a bit, though, that the story didn’t have chapters. It was just one long read through 230 pages and it was… a little heavy. I would’ve liked it divided into chapters. Other than that it was just like the previous three novels, except that this stretched on for years rather than just a few weeks, though that was hardly a surprise.

I really enjoyed getting to know Levana better and I do believe this novel contributes greatly to the rest of the series. To get to see her, to get to know her, to hear the reasons behind her choices, that was great. She is the perfect villain, because she could be anyone. Anyone could turn into that, in the same circumstances. She is, despite the horrible things she does, relatable. And all the best villains are. I feel like I understand her better now and I feel sorry for her rather than being mad or appalled by her decisions. She did awful things in Fairest and has done awful things in the other novels, and nothing is okay but at least now I know what she thought, that she somehow believed that she was right in doing all those things.

I’m certain that had Levana just been loved, and shown love, when she was younger and had known that she was enough just the way she was, then she wouldn’t have turned into that cruel person. Evil feeds evil and it can’t be plainer than it is in this series. Meyer has done an excellent job with Levana, her story and keeping me somewhat content until November. If you like the Lunar Chronicles then this is a must-read for you!

Of Poseidon

A little while back I had a small phase were I got very interested in mermaids and life lived in water. This led me to search around for books in this theme and you can just imagine my happiness when I stumbled upon Of Poseidon. It was the first mermaid-like novel I found that really interested me; it had both a story that got me hooked and a cover that made my heart beat a little faster. I was relieved to find out that my expectations weren’t set out too high. It was a good book, if a bit different then I first thought.

Emma is an ordinary girl, expect for her very extraordinary violet eyes, and with her friend Chloe she spends summer vacation in Florida. It’s the summer before her last year in high school – and the summer when everything changes. It all starts when she meets Galen, a really, really hot, yet quite weird, guy on the beach. Their encounter doesn’t last very long but Emma feels an odd connection with him that she tries, but fails, to understand. After that day Galen keeps popping up everywhere Emma goes. And as the story unravels it turns out that Galen isn’t just your ordinary hot guy, that he too felt the connection Emma did and that he carries more than one life-changing secret.

What Emma doesn’t know is that Galen is actually a Syrena, which something like a mermaid. And not only does he live in the sea and have, you know, a fin, but he’s also a prince. A prince on the mission of finding a very specific girl who’s supposed to be able to talk to fish. A girl who can save his people from extinction. A girl who just happens to be Emma.

My feelings for this novel are divided. I want to say that the plot was good, though far from something new, but at the same time I felt it was a little dull. Nothing major happened, not really, but this being the first of three books, well… this might just be a foundation for something more action-packed. One thing it did have, though, was humor. Not every novel is funny and far from all should be, many are intense and serious, but it is fun to read something that makes you laugh once in a while. Of Poseidon certainly did that. And it wasn’t “I’m-laughing-because-this-is-so-awkward” or “I’m-laughing-because-you’re-so-stupid” or “I’m-laughing-because-that’s-the-only-thing-I-can-do”. It wasn’t jokes, it was genuine hilarious writing. I’ve only every read books by one author like this before and it was the Ruby Red trilogy, so hats off to Anna Banks for this. I loved it!

When it comes to the writing then I don’t have very much to say at all. It was not bad, light and easy, which made it fast-paced (I read the whole thing in two days which says a lot about both the writing and the plot). But there wasn’t anything extraordinary about it, it wasn’t flowy and beautiful and poetic. It wasn’t something that bothered me, though. Something that did annoy me was the fact that the novel was written out of both Emma and Galen’s perspective, in alternate chapters. But while Emma’s chapters was written from first person, Galen’s was in third and that wasn’t something I was a fan of. I want to believe that it would’ve been better to write both views the same way.

In the character department we find Emma and Galen, our two main characters. They’re different, yet quite alike. Emma is shy and almost invisible behind her very outgoing friend Chloe, while Galen, as a prince, has been taught not to be shy at all. They live in two different worlds but they’re connected and despite the fact that Emma hates water and Galen hates land, they still form a bond that grows stronger for each passing day. They both have something that makes them them and I like that.

Other characters come and go and while some takes up quite a lot of space, none get screen time like Emma and Galen. A character whose personality I really did like was Galen’s friend, Toraf. He seemed to bring in a fresh breath of air to the story, thought I won’t lie, some of his choices made me feel a little uncomfortable. Galen’s sister, Rayna, reminded me of an angry cat but softened a bit while the story wore on. She, like Toraf, did some things that made me raise an eyebrow, though. Emma’s mother was extremely overprotective, in a very odd way, but she was never around long enough to actually get to know her. She also seemed mysterious, as did the rest of Galen’s family.

Something that can be spoken about in lengths (which I won’t) is some moral points of the story. Like the fact that Rayna was set up to mate (Syrena equivalent to marry) against her will, in a ceremony that she didn’t even attend herself. Or that she said no to her mate time and time again just to change her mind about him when she saw him kissing another girl, making it sound like whenever a girl says no she doesn’t mean it but rather wants you to “convince” her that you are the better choice. I did not like the message that sent out to the readers. And Emma goes through something horrific early on in the book, something that probably was supposed to shape her and make Galen realize who she was (and make her vulnerable in the eyes of the readers) but when the book wore on the memories of it, and the pain, disappeared. Thought it plagues Emma in the beginning, she almost seems to… forget it when other things claim her attention. For me, what happened to her would not be something to forget. Not in a heartbeat, not in a week or a month. Not even in years. I didn’t mind that it happened (I really think you could’ve done the story a lot of good working more around that incident instead of sweeping it away) so much as to the poor follow-up.

Ultimately, this was a novel that I enjoyed reading, even though it was predictable. It is, like most stories nowadays, the first in a trilogy and I will certainly seek out the sequel to see what happens to Emma, Galen and the Syrena, in the hopes that the next book will be a bit better, in every aspect. From a feministic viewpoint, this isn’t a nice read. But for someone who just wants to have something to pass some time with, then this is perfect.