I LOVED The Young Elites, and while its sequel delivered more of what I loved (young female protagonist with an abusive past joins a group of heroes and becomes…the villain), it didn’t quite captivate me in the same way. I think this was, for me, because Adelina’s villainy got REAL. Her attraction to darkness and power are beginning to overwhelm her, and while in the first book I could understand and approve of her actions….this time around I wanted to pull her out of the book and sit her down for a counseling session. Which was totally the point, so job well done, Marie Lu!
Now that I’m thinking about it, I guess I really DID like how Adelina slides to the dark side. She kills her enemies in defense…and then as punishment…and then pre-emptively so that they cannot hurt her later. This is very smart! But it’s also pretty evil, and I liked how Lu explored the moral complexity of power. I also loved Adelina’s sister Violetta. She’s the “good girl” who doesn’t participate in evil…but she also doesn’t stop Adelina and tacitly gives approval with her silence.
And then there’s Magiano, who is a DARLING. He can mimic any other Elite’s powers, making him crazy powerful. He’s joyful and funny and sweet…but he’s totally willing to kill people to help Adelina take the throne. So often in YA books, the group of heroes somehow manages to overthrow corrupt authorities by knocking people out or maybe killing just one Very Bad Person. It was really interesting to see Adelina’s group of “heroes” unflinchingly doing whatever was necessary to accomplish their goals without making them all simplistically evil.
It’s only later, as they look back on what their actions have done (to others, to themselves) that they realize perhaps they went too far…
Okay, I definitely talked myself into giving The Rose Society a higher score! This is such a unique series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next (even though I assume it will be awful and will make me cry). Continue reading