The Young Elites, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Young Elites, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Taut tale mixes medieval fantasy, mutant powers, great cast.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Young Elites is set in a fantasy world with a vaguely Venetian feel. It's not in any way realistic, but neither does it seem too far-fetched.

Positive Messages

The Young Elites emphasizes the importance of loyalty to friends and family. It also advocates learning how to control powerful emotions such as anger and grief.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Having been raised by an unloving father, Adelina feels like a misfit because she lost an eye to the blood fever. When she discovers she possesses magical powers, she has to learn to control them, lest she hurt herself or those she cares about.


There's a fair amount of violence in The Young Elites, but it's usually not described in graphic detail. Adelina accidentally kills a significant person at the beginning of the book. Teren kills someone by hammering a wire into his eye while that person is passed out drunk. Enzo uses his magical heat powers to burn Inquisitors from the inside out. The climactic battle is intense and results in a number of deaths.


Adelina and Enzo are physically attracted to each other. They share a couple of passionate embraces that threaten to develop into something more, but they pull away at the last minute. Raffeale is a "consort" at an exclusive brothel, but the exact nature of his duties there are not described in detail.


"Bastard" and "damn" are used once or twice.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adelina drinks wine and becomes slightly intoxicated in one celebratory scene with the other Elites. A man is killed when he's passed out drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Young Elites, by Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy, is a fast-moving fantasy novel about young outcasts who develop magical powers. There's a fair amount of violence -- an accidental trampling by a horse, a murder committed by hammering a wire into the eye, a few magical duels -- but the graphic details are usually not described. The language is uniformly mild (a couple of uses of "bastard" and "damn"), and sexual content is limited to flirting, a character who works as a "consort" in a brothel, and two passionate embraces that get cut off before things progress too far. The protagonist becomes slightly inebriated on wine in one celebratory scene. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous March 28, 2015

Entertaining, But Still Lacking

In a fantasized version of Renaissance Italy, those who survive the dreaded blood fever find themselves gifted with magical powers. These young survivors call t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRainbowNova840 July 19, 2015

Marie Lu's books are wonderful!

I read this book within hours! It was amazing! There's some violence, a tiny bit of drinking, and some romance. The romance doesn't play a big part in... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMarla13 November 11, 2020
I enjoyed this book a lot! But I also hated the ending

What's the story?

A survivor of the blood fever that devastated the kingdom 10 years ago, 16-year-old Adelina Amouteru lost an eye and gained a jagged scar on her face, marking her as a "malfetto" -- an abomination. Trying to escape from her cruel father one night, Adelina discovers that she has an unexpected power, the ability to create horrific illusions. Soon she attracts the attention of the Dagger Society, a group of "Young Elites" with mysterious magical abilities, sworn to bring down the corrupt king and queen. Can she trust them not to turn on her once they've achieved their goals?

Is it any good?

THE YOUNG ELITES is a promising start to a new fantasy series, with an appealing young heroine and a strong cast of antagonists, companions, and potential love interests.

Author Marie Lu keeps the action and suspense high and engineers enough twists to keep her readers engaged all the way to the surprising and heart-wrenching climactic scene. The setup is a little too "Medieval X-Men," but most of Lu's audience won't mind.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about people who are disfigured. Why are they sometimes feared and discriminated against?

  • If you read Marie Lu's Legend trilogy, how does this start to a series compare? Think you'll stick with it? 

  • Is revenge ever a worthwhile goal? Does vengeance ever achieve justice? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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