We are very excited to welcome Marie Lu to our Ravenna location on Monday, October 19th, at 7PM. Christina wrote up a little something to tell you why you should be excited too.
The Rose Society, Marie Lu's sequel to the first title to Young Elites series, is an unrelentingly dark book. If you're familiar with The Young Elites, this is no surprise: the series focuses on the wonderfully complex Adelina Amouteru, who is much more villain than hero. The stakes are higher and the scope is broader in The Rose Society, as Adelina and her sister Violetta look for allies to help them in their quest for revenge on almost everyone - Estenzia, the Inquisition Axis, her former friends, and almost anyone who crosses her path. And along the way, more and more opportunities arise for Adelina to use her powers and escalate to more and more violent acts. And oh, does she take those opportunities!
"Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all."
I love YA books but I know I'm very behind on current titles. When I learned that Marie Lu was coming to my store for a signing (October 19! 7pm!) I took that as encouragement to start The Young Elites series despite not knowing much about them. This series has powerful plotting, enough complex and intricate twists to keep any George R.R. Martin or Pretty Little Liars fan engaged. It has all the characteristics found in other successful young adult series: colorful characters, troubled romance, love triangles, a vivid world with just enough similarities to historical times in our own world to be both familiar and interesting, and of course- super powers. Between them, Adelina and her associates can control the weather, call illusions, conjure fire, heal almost instantaneously, and fly using the wind.
But the heart of these books is Adelina, and she's fascinating! If you've ever felt a twinge of sympathy for characters like Darth Vader or Draco Malfoy, Adelina's plight might move you to tears. She's boxed in by a series of circumstances difficult enough to make anyone grudgingly accept her disruptive mayhem. But what makes The Rose Society, leaping into the scenarios set up by The Young Elites, such a page-turner is that Adelina, far from a passive victim, is aware of other options and typically chooses, of her own volition, the more ruthless and ambitious path. She develops a deep satisfaction in her ability to control others that Lu makes very clear:
"I have never known the mind of a wolf hunting a deer, but I imagine it must feel a little like this: the twisted excitement of seeing the weak and wounded cowering before you, the knowledge that, in this instant, you have the power to end its life or grant it mercy. In this moment, I am a god."
Of course, as soon as the reader becomes tempted to unilaterally condemn Adelina, the plot twists and it seems equally inviting to cheer the downfall of her aggressors instead. This is a tension that Lu sustains thrillingly throughout and makes it really difficult to imagine how this will be reconciled in the final book of the trilogy. (Like, seriously. Any ideas?) The Rose Society prompts you to wonder, at what point do we wash our hands of someone and declare them irredeemable? Because, of course, we want even our anti-heroes to be redeemed in the end, yet Adelina commits some truly unforgivable acts. And to what degree are others responsible for creating an environment in which Adelina's choices are so few?
Read The Rose Society and join me in speculation. I'm also here for your pro- or anti-Enzo feelings. And in signing off, may I direct your attention to The Rose Society's Goodreads page, where there are over 100 pages of fan-made reaction .gif sets to accompany you.