Holy. Crap. Do. I. Love. This. Book.
If you remember my review for Marie Lu’s ‘The Young Elites’ a month ago, you may remember me praising it as becoming one of my most favorite novels of all time, from the anti-hero Adelina, to the settings, to the villains, to the story, to everything that makes this fantasy series so addicting to read. And now we have the sequel to Marie Lu’s bestselling novel from last year, ‘The Rose Society’.
After the events of the first book, Adelina Amouteru is cast out of the Dagger Society and is roaming the sea and land of Kenettra all alone with her sister, Violetta. Betrayed by her friends for the last time, the Young Elite with dark emotions is bent on tearing down the Inquisition Axis, the cruel and unforgiveable Lead Inquisitor Teru, and the Kenettran Queen for all the wrongs done to her, her sister, and all the malfettos of the world. She’ll need to form an alliance of warriors and other Elites, one that will put the Dagger Society to shame. Among those who’ll join her are an infamous kleptomaniac Elite named Magiano with the ability to mimic other Elite’s powers, and an ex-Dagger member named Sergio with the ability to control rainstorms.
However, poor Adelina will have to work against the clock, as she discovers that the Daggers are working with the Beldains, a rivaling country of Kenettra that wishes to turn the beautiful nation into a puppet state governed by the Daggers, with the Queen of Beldain controlling the strings. However, war isn’t what truly disturbs Adelina, it is the fact that the Beldish Queen is a Young Elite herself with a power probably more disturbing and otherworldly than hers.
I cannot get enough of Adelina in this book. This young girl is the epitome of a villainous female hero in literature, and it is unbelievable how scarred and badass of a character Adelina molds herself into. This is what Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars should’ve been in the prequels, being a badass most of the time and a vulnerable human being in the most important moments. You don’t have to make a character overly whiney and then reveal they’re the villain. What sets Adelina apart from Anakin is that she’s a teenager with a power that feeds off of fear and suffering, which shows us that her personality is tuned to her powers, which in turn damage her psyche and moral reasoning. I can just fall in love with her memorable quotes over and over again.
“The world’s deadliest mercenaries choose to serve you, the whispers say, because they have yet to meet me.” ~Adelina Amouteru
However, just because she’s a ruthless anti-hero with dark intentions doesn’t means she’s less than human. Adelina can be insightful to her allies one minute and then order her soldiers to kill captured guards without a second thought. She can be calming her little sister during a thunderstorm one moment and then murder a king with her help the next day. I don’t know how Marie Lu manages to balance all of this and make Adelina’s character look so easily but somebody give her a freaking Pulitzer Prize!
The side character have gone through significant changes as well. I love how lite touches here and there further establish the characters and what they’ve done through simple gestures and words. For example, it’s revealed that the Beldish Queen is in love with a girl in the Dagger Society who can control the wind, but through clever writing, we immediately know how she cannot marry her due to her royalty requiring her to give an heir. It’s simple things like that that make us understand these people more and more.
Teren from the first novel is back with more madness than before, even questioning his devotion to Queen Giulietta of Kenettra when it is revealed she doesn’t hold the same views as he does on what to do with malfettos. He wants to commit genocide on all abominations to the gods, whether they be malfetto or Elite, and cleanse them from Kenettra. However, Giulietta only sees them as a small problem, and only wants to force submission in her kingdom instead of inciting a revolution. . At first, we’re forced to believe that Giulietta is no worse of a tyrant and radical monster than Teren, but Marie Lu incredibly portrayed us two conflicting and powerful people with conflicting and powerful beliefs.
The same is said with the side characters and people that live in this beautiful yet treacherous world. Underneath the Mediterranean-esque architecture and among the beautiful creatures that roam this fantasy land are individuals with unique but dangerous personalities that can clash at any moment on the streets and in alleyways. It is a dark world where people are burned alive at the stake, murdered ruthlessly when undermining authority, religious zealots willing to hurt children in the name of God(s). This would make ‘Game of Thrones’ blush.
I have no complaints at all; this is one of those perfect books for an audience that wants dram, heartache, hope, fantastical environments, and a story that twists and turns at any moment. Is there a downside? Yes. This book trilogy isn’t getting as much attention as it should be. I’m sure you’ve read some reviews that tell you to read a book as soon as you’ve got free time, but I’m recommending this because you’ll never find a book series with such a tortured and complexly villainous hero in any form of recent literature. This is a series that must be known more, especially when it’s been recently revealed that the same people who adapted ‘The Maze Runner’ into a film trilogy is putting this on the big screen. I have no idea where and how this incredible jewel of YA literature will end in the next novel, but I will not hesitate to read the next one.
(Btw, I bet you’re wondering why I brought up Anakin Skywalker in this review. Well, according to Marie Lu herself, she based Adelina’s character off of Darth Vader and Magneto. Nope, I am not joking. Look it up.)
If you have any questions or already have an opinion on the novel, feel free to leave any comments. Thanks!