Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Young Elites #3
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Penguin on October 11, 2016
Also by this author: The Young Elites, The Rose Society, The Young Elites
Adelina the White Wolf, now Queen of Kenettra, has been brutally conquering the surrounding nations in search of her sister Violetta and the hiding Daggers in her quest for personal vengeance and retribution for the abused malfettos. Meanwhile, Raffaele, with Violetta's help, has discovered the reason why all Young Elites are suffering from various afflictions that seem to rival their mystical powers. It's not just the Young Elites suffering though. There has been a wave of balira and aquatic deaths that have been cropping up. Also, those raised from the dead have been growing more violent and unmanageable, which means they will lose their beloved Enzo. Raffaele knows the only way to attempt to solve the wave of illness and death is to ally with Adelina. Especially with Violetta's illness worsening at a rapid rate, Adelina must be told of the illness, its consequences, and her necessity in the journey for equilibrium between the gods and mortal realms. Not only must some of the Daggers and Adelina join forces, but Teren and Queen Maeve also must decide to join together in the adventure. In this strange allegiance of Young Elites and their quest to right the balance between the worlds, Adelina must examine herself, her loves and choices, and decide what ultimately she wants to accomplish in this world.
The final dark tale of Adelina and the Young Elites ends with sacrifice, beautiful storytelling, and revelations for the deepest questions of the heart.
I can’t say enough how I really like this series and how different it is from other things that are out there in YA. Adelina’s growth from a scared girl who discovers she has power and influence to the queen/empress responsible for death, destruction, betrayal, and abuse of power should make the reader unsympathetic, possibly even to the point of intense dislike for her. After all, how do you like a villain?
But, this series is one of the few where I am surprised I DO like the villain. Yes, she’s flawed and consumed by her depth of ambition and hunger for any brand of “justice”, even one that crosses lines of morality. However, she also shows an inner conflict, a mental instability caused by her abuse and her powers (which could be symbolic for a real mental illness), and a deep thirst for love, affection, and acceptance, which due to her upbringing, she never received except from her sister (who later betrays her thus causing more violent consequences). I really love the conflict of Adelina’s insanity and her bloodlust rivaled with her desire for power, love, and the fear she weaves into the hearts of others. It makes the ending that much more powerful.
One of the other fantastic things about this series are the characters. You really remember Enzo, Raffaele, Teren, and the rest long after you’ve read the series, and each of the Young Elites has their gifts but also has their own loyalties and reads just like real people. When many of the Young Elites have to band together to even begin to stop the horrors occurring in the land, it is strangely a scene of forgiveness, of common alliance at their similar fates, and still they mistrust each other. It is symbolic of how something that benefits everyone could be achieved if all parties set aside their hatred, their selfishness, and their past trespasses to really work as a team. Usually in stories, it is the heroes versus the villains, but in this case, it’s the heroes and the villains having to come to a middle ground to reach a common goal. Very thought provoking and unlike other books out there!
One of the things I loved most about this novel was that while it had an entirely different flavor than the previous two which were increasingly dark and felt reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, it also is the most poetic of the three and really brought out the gift of storytelling that Marie Lu has. I cannot say much more without telling elements that are essential to the final bits of the book. I never could have predicted that outcome; so wow! the twist was shocking, beautiful, and I cried. But no spoilers here! The cover is lovely and at the end of the novel, the reader must contemplate the cover and the title with the novel’s resolution. Let me know what you think of the ending!