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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.

I guess Marie Lu just isn’t my thing. As with Legend, the blurb made this series sound like something I’d love. The opening chapters of the book (sometimes the worst part of a YA series) were intriguing, and I rushed to read the rest only to find myself slowing down halfway through. By the end of the story, I found that I didn’t really care about any of the characters and didn’t have enough curiosity to pick up the next book.

         The publisher synopsis for this book (above) is ridiculously long but doesn’t actually give you a great idea of what the book’s about. Here’s the deal: our heroine, Adelina Amouteru survived this fantasy childhood image that makes you a malformed outcast but possibly gives you magical powers. She falls in with the “young elites,” the resident rag-tag group of extraordinary misfit teens led by an exiled prince. As Adelina tries to figure out who is using her and who she can trust (hint: it’s no one) her power grows and she starts spending a lot of time thinking about romance and very little thinking about the little sister she’s supposed to be saving.

         It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what fell short for me besides the fact that none of it felt real. Obviously fantasy is fantasy, but I could never buy into the world of The Young Elites as anything other than a fabrication meant to create a Dashing, Wounded Cinnamon Roll romantic interest. The characters felt flimsy and once I started anticipating the story beats, I couldn’t stop.

         Usually, when I find myself turned off by YA fantasy, it’s because the protagonist was bland or brittle, but I actually liked Adelina a fair amount. The “blood fever” idea makes for an interesting backstory for Adelina as a character and the world as whole, and I appreciate the fact that her appearance was actually as extraordinary and off-putting as so many YA protagonists think theirs is. Teren has the makings of an engaging character as well, though he didn’t really seem to go anywhere, even as the narration revealed supposed “twists” in his backstory.

         I’ve seen, of course, plenty of five-star rave reviews for this book, so it certainly has its readers. I’m sure the right reader would enjoy the romantic tension and dramatic training sequences. This book just isn’t for me.

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