Ximena Orozco, Staff Writer

The Young Elites is a dystopian novel by Marie Lu, and it is possibly one of the most surprising books I ever read. Years before, an illness referred to as the “blood fever” ravaged the land. Survivors of the fever bear the marks of it, including odd abilities the sickness “gifted” them with. The story follows Adelina Amoutero, a survivor of the “blood fever,” who bears the marks of the sickness with her scarred eye and silver hair. She decides to run away from her dysfunctional family, spontaneously creating black, nightmarish creatures in the heat of a struggle with her father. Adelina is then arrested for the supposed murder of her father. Her execution is planned to be done by Teren Santoro, the lead Inquisitor and the antagonist of the story. Just before being burned at the stake, Adelina is rescued by a mysterious figure. The figure turns out to be Enzo Valenciano, the leader of a vigilante group called “The Dagger Society” and the crown prince of the country.

We get a firsthand look at how damaged and traumatized Adelina is throughout the story. Most of the time in books like these, the protagonist does everything they can to thank the people who saved them. However, Adelina rejects this idea; instead, she does whatever she can in order to ensure her own survival. She has difficulty trusting people, and rightfully so considering everything she has been through. People fear Adelina and her “gift,” so she gets treated like some damaged puppy who needs to be treated carefully.

The overall story is great, despite the fact that some of the character’s actions are frustrating. I always like characters similar to those in The Young Elites because real characters make mistakes. The imperfection of these characters is obvious and celebrated. You will still find yourself cheering on a character who does something incredibly stupid, hoping things work out for them in the end. I also really liked the development of the antagonist. At the beginning of the novel, I hated Teren because of the sheer fact that he is the “bad guy.” However, the author uses different perspectives to show Enzo’s view in the story. I found myself pitying Enzo, even hoping for his success at times. I also didn’t expect the ending. I won’t spoil it, but it was definitely a surprising outcome.

The Young Elites is a novel for people who enjoy completely fictional and fantastical stories that don’t have your average “perfect” main characters. The novel also has a weird, cringey method of making you want to look away, but you won’t be able to. It keeps you on edge and constantly wanting to know what’s going to happen next.