A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"Bastard" and "damn" are used once or twice.
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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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.