Well this Trilogy completely surprised me, because going into the books, I had heard many mixed Reviews, most of them negative. However, when I bought the books for a great deal that I could not resist, I thought that I might as well give them a chance. After all I was very intrigued by the tagline that this was a villain origin story. And let me tell you reading these books was the best thing I could have done! I am in the minority here, but I absolutely loved all three books and think they are wonderful (with book 3 being my definite favorite). Along with Warcross I find them so much better developed than the Legend Trilogy I read earlier this year. For me Marie Lu’s writing has become so much better over the years! The Young Elites Trilogy – for me – is a Series that’s unfairly hated. While it might not be for everyone, I feel like it deserves so much more love and recognition! If you have been hesitant about picking the books up, I hope that you give them a chance, because they could really work for you!
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.
“I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside. It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.”
⚔️ Adelina’s character arc was so fascinating and different. This isn’t about a hero’s journey as usual, but instead of a villain Arc, which I really liked and was reason why I was excited for the book. Adeline has this darkness inside her that controls her more than she wants to and I loved that she was also having these dark thoughts. Again, this was different as she actually relished other people’s terror and fear and kept turning bitter at times. I’m very interested to see where her character Arc is headed especially as I kind of got her. I don’t mean that I love hurting people, but I got how she grew up isolated and always scorned by her father. I did relate to Adelina feeling like there was only “kindness with strings attached” meaning that people tend to be nice to you, when they need something from you, which is a fact that many will be able to relate to. In the end, I really felt Adelina’s isolation and her feeling alone, cut off and again abandoned, it was such a raw feeling and made me feel very sorry for her.
⚔️ One of the best things is the ongoing good/evil debate. In the book there is no clear good or evil, it’s much more foggy and there are many grey areas which I loved! It’s such a profound theme that The Young Elites was exploring and one that really appealed to you and got you thinking. Who are the bad guys? Is the Dagger Society really the hero? Is anyone? It was fascinating that you could see everyone from many different point of views and that Adelina struggled with that. Was this new group her friends, or were they just as bad as those she had run away from? Who could she even trust with the lines between good and evil so thin. She herself was in between those two concepts, leaning towards dark, but not quite there yet. Teren was another player that represented many sides. Not going to lie he annoyed me with his self-righteous “I’m a monster and must destroy other monsters” attitude and the fact that he was so obsessed with Adelina joining him. However, he’s an interesting antagonist in the way that he is an Elite as well, but actually not on the same side as the others.
⚔️ I loved the world-building, as it was very interesting. The world is Italian inspired, but I don’t know how throughly worked out those elements actually all. I did enjoy them however, but I was more interested in the powers. I loved that we got an explanation for the powers and where they came from. We know that there was a blood fever which left people marked with unusual things (e.g. silver hair and a missing eye in Adelina’s case) and prompted people tp call them “malfettos”. Some of them – the Elite – gained powers after the blood fever and can control the energy threads around them, which I thought was really cool! Through Adelina we got to explore how this worked and how she actually reached for the threads and her power. Therefore, I think that the world-building was very vivid and complex, especially as we’ve got gods/children of angels involved. The powers of the Elites are aligned to certain gods and feelings, which is where they draw their power from.
⚔️ I really liked Enzo & especially Raffaele. Both were very interesting characters, even though Raffaele is my favorite. I immediately began to like him, since he’s such a kind person and has this charisma surrounding him that makes you like him, which is also part of his ability. However, there is a more serious side to him as well, he’s not naive, despite being that nice. I loved his relationship with Adelina and how both grew a bit closer together, as he was openly friendly despite his hidden distrust. Enzo is a bit rougher around the edges and their born leader. A former prince he is set on reclaiming his throne and commands respect. You don’t want to cross him that’s for sure. His relationship to Adelina was interesting, but based on lust/power on purpose.
⚔️ It was great that the book ended in a completely different way than I had expected. I never could have anticipated the direction the book went in, which is good because that meant that things were not predictable at all. I loved how the book took a different route than most other fantasy books I’ve read, which might also be related to how Adelina is set on a character arc towards becoming a villain. I’m pumped to see how the second book is going to continue!
IN CONCLUSION: The Young Elites was a surprisingly good book (given the mixed reviews I’ve seen) with great world-building and a fantastic becoming the villain Arc! The plot was going into a different direction than I expected which made a pleasant surprise and kept me curious for the Trilogy overall.
Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.
Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.
But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?
“Someday, when I am nothing but dust and wind, what tale will they tell about me? Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.”
⚔️ Adelina’s journey is darker than ever before. I loved this so so much because I’m 100% digging her villain character arc, as it’s really well written. To find out that the book originally only featured her as a side character baffled me. Adelina and her struggles with black/white and good/evil as the main focus is what really sets this story apart. I always was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole time, watching Adelina trying to get her revenge and gathering her own recruits to strike back. I loved her descent into darkness, murder and revenge so much, because it was such a different development, because usually the protagonist experiences a positive change ARC. Not Adelina, she gets progressively worse, fighting against the whispers and hallucinations in her mind, that drive her towards power. You can see how she slowly succumbs to her own darkness and lets it fuel her. She’s now finally fighting back, lashing out against everyone who hurt her. It broke my heart to see her so desperate, any chance of friendship lost and with only power at her disposal. The end perfectly reinforces how she accepts a “Truth” which is even worse, BUT the book ends in such an interesting way that keeps you hooked and desperately wanting to read the finale!
⚔️ We explored her roses a bit more and their group dynamic. After seeing a bit of her last book we get to see Adelina’s sister Violetta and how she is trying to control her very cool power of shutting off the other Elite’s abilities. I loved seeing both sister travel together and hold on to each other, they had such an amazing, complex dynamic between sisterly love, but also jealousy and old guilt. I didn’t care much for Violetta in the last book, but now she got so much more interesting, as the spotlight was a bit more on her. She’s calm, sensible but the end proved that she’s no fool that you can mess with. The first recruit for The Rose Society is Magiano, who immediately grew on me. He’s a thief and trickster, who can mimic powers, which again is really cool and interesting. He’s a bit mischievous, but also charming and can be counted on. I just loved his humor and attitude. There is a bit of romance between him and Adelina, which I immensely enjoyed, because he truly is bringing out the light in her. The last main Rose is Sergio, who used to be a dagger and now has joined Adelina. I didn’t care for him, as much as I cared for the others, but he was a decent character as well, with an interesting back story.
⚔️ The Daggers are still there, lurking. Now teaming up with Maeve, we still see the Daggers and even get the POV of Raffaele at a few times. I still love him as a character and just want to protect him to be honest. He’s now the kind of leader of the Daggers and I still think that Raffaele is so interesting & so much more than you’d originally think. He’s without a doubt the dagger who’s in focus, especially as he was the closest to Adelina apart from Enzo. I do like how Adelina cannot seem to let the daggers go, even though she swears to get their revenge on them. However, you can see how she secretly longs for their companionship, something she can no longer have.
⚔️ I thought that Maeve was very interesting. We saw a very tiny glimpse of her in the last book, but now we got to see a clearer picture of her. I must say that Maeve made a great impression on me, as she intrigued me. The Queen can resurrect the dead which is a very macabre ability, which makes her and everything else so much more interesting. Not only does she give off that very dark, eerie vibe, but Maeve is a very powerful enemy and complex characters, with many more layers to her than just her abilities. She is fierce and every inch a queen, never backing down and getting her way, no matter who wants to stop her. I’m always down for powerful queens.
⚔️ The plot was even better & more fast paced. I liked the plot of the first book, but the second book took things a few steps further. There was more action and everything was more fast-paced than before. Therefore, I thought that the plot was stronger and the sequel overall made a bigger impression on me. I didn’t find myself bored or even growing a bit tired at any place, because things were happening at all times and they were happening fast. There wasn’t any safe zone for Adelina so she was always on the run, never really letting her guard down, which really drove the book. She’s more active this book as well and we see way more of the world than we did before. I can only hope that the finale will manage to take the plot and make it even bigger than in the second book.
⚔️ The world-building expanded even further. I loved that we got to see more and more about the powers of the Elites and the possible … drawbacks that might arise. I thought that it was quite clever to include the downsides as well and remind us that every magic & power has a price that needs to be paid. I cannot wait to see how this will play out in the next book, as it’s surely going to be a big plot point and possibly bring Adelina’s demise. Everything is very well thought out and beginning to come full circle.
IN CONCLUSION: The Rose Society was a solid sequel and even better than the first book as it took us on an even darker journey through Adelina’s mind and raised the stakes at all times. I was really immersed and cannot wait for the great finale that hopefully will take everything that has been build up & bring it home.
There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.
Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.
When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.
“To those who, in spite of everything, still choose goodness”
⚔️ Adelina’s character arc remains truly exceptional. I mean I have never seen a character Arc like hers, which makes the Trilogy even more special to me. I really got attached to Adelina, because we’ve been following her for three books now and have seen her turn from a scared, abused girl to a very dark, vicious queen. I loved seeing her change for the worse and act on the hurt she has experienced. It’s great to see her development because you can see it from many different angles. We get her perspective on it many times, but also see other characters regard Adelina. Often the morally gray area is discussed and I absolutely love characters like that. There is no real good and evil in the books, which makes it all the more intriguing. In the Midnight Star Adelina’s character buildup comes to a close when she is forced to work with her enemies, those that she thinks have always abandoned and used her. Of course she changes even further and struggled between the cruel, paranoid queen and a sliver of doubt appearing in her now that she has achieved everything she wanted and still does not feel happy. We see her rule and how it’s based on fear. Adelina is not a good queen, she is wielding terror and her ability as her weapon to conquer and keep everyone submissive. She is feared and never wants to give up her powers. Worst of all her powers threaten to consume her, painting her chapters in a very dark light as Adelina struggles to separate illusion from reality – it was frightening to read about her losing herself in the whispers. In the end however, Adelina’s hard held beliefs begin to crack, she starts going down on a path of kind of redemption and tries to release the darkness. She gains a different perspective at the dagger and in the end I am glad what she chose. Still I am very much emotional about her fate, but really proud of Adelina.
⚔️ I was so down for Adelina’s and Magiano’s relationship. We see it develop in the last book when we get introduced to Magiano. Let me just say that I generally adore him, he’s so kind and the light to Adelina’s darkness. Of course Magiano is a thief, he is greedy and snarky, but in the end he’s a good guy and uuuuh I love him so so much. After all he still stands at Adelina’s side as she rules as the queen of darkness and he is the only one that can make her smile a bit. I loved how Magiano had a positive impact on her in the last book, but now it becomes even more apparent, that he is the light she needs to keep the darkness and the whispers at bay. Adelina trusts him and indeed she has feelings for him, showing a softer side when he is around. The feeling is mutual and aaah I wanted more of them!! I was so down for their romance, especially as it was slow burn and they fit together so well. Why did you have to break my heart when it came to them in the end??? Rude.
“You cannot harden your heart to the future just because of your past. You cannot use cruelty against yourself to justify cruelty to others.”
⚔️ I also loved seeing the other dynamics. We get to see the daggers again and I very much still love Raffaele, who now is their leader and the one holding the groups together. I loved how he took care of Violetta and still could not quite let go of Adelina. He might think that she is beyond saving, but deep down Raffaele still cares about the girl she used to be before her descend into darkness. His and Adelina’s dynamic was very interesting, because there is a lot of hatred, misunderstanding and feeling of betrayal between them. Adelina sees him in the worst possible light, as the one who only needs her when it’s convenient. An even greater focus is in Adelina’s relationship to her sister which is very frayed and broken after the last book – we are kept wondering if they ever can rekindle and find their way back to each other. Of course we see the Daggers, Adelina’s group, Maeve AND Teren working together – a dangerous game between betrayal and hurt.
⚔️ The quest and journey were really well thought out. It took up a great deal of the book and I loved that we got to see everyone going on tis last journey together because they had to. The last book hinted at a common problem threatening the Elites: their powers getting out of control and destroying them. Now they have to fix this and everyone is needed to work together, which makes this quest not an easy one. I loved the explanation for the origin of their powers and what tehy had to do in order to save themselves and the world around them. Of course not everyone was really happy with the journey, but that just fuelled the suspense. The last scenes were especially interesting, as we actually got to see the gods and the Underworld.
⚔️ I liked how everything came together in the end even if it broke my heart. I had no idea how things would turn out to be honest. I kept getting itchy when there were not many pages left, because I had no idea where the story would take me. In the end I would say that I liked how everything came together and how things ended, even though it broke my heart. The end was bittersweet in the best and worst way, meaning that it was emotionally taxing and making me think. A large part of me is still in denial and craving more books to fill the void the characters have left behind.
“After a lifetime of darkness, I want to leave something behind that is made of light.”
IN CONCLUSION: The Midnight Star was a worthy finale and satisfied me – it might be the best finale that I have read this year. The book tied up everything in a very bittersweet way that broke my heart and made me wail. I grew so attached to the characters and couldn’t believe that I had to leave them behind, making me crave even more books. I have a slight book hangover now.
Have you read The Young Elites Trilogy? Do you like stories about villains? ⚔️