This month I’m recommending books that will put you in the Halloween spirit, so let’s celebrate the release of Marie Lu’s The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by spotlighting its villainous protagonist: Adelina Amouteru.
We’ll start with this series’ fascinating backstory. Did you know The Young Elites began as a hero’s journey? Lu’s acknowledgements note that The Young Elites was initially about a teen hero who attempts to master his powers and defeat the villain, but her first draft failed. Adelina was a minor character until Lu’s agent, Kristin Nelson, suggested she should be the main character. Realizing that Adelina was “a fun bad girl” whom she wanted to keep around during the book’s rewrite, Lu decided to tell a villain’s story.
And what an amazing villain’s story it is! Especially The Rose Society, which brings Adelina’s cruelty to a whole new level. For those of you who don’t know, this series is set in a fantasy world in which some of the malfettos (“marked” survivors of a deadly blood fever) have special powers and are called The Young Elites. As a malfetto, Adelina is considered bad luck, unwanted, and a monster. She is vulnerable and victimized until she discovers she’s an Elite, gifted with powers of illusion that feed off of her fear and fury.
I don’t want to discuss the series’ plot any further; rather I want to praise Adelina’s successful evolution into a villain. She doesn’t try to overcome her negative traits (fear, anger, stubbornness, manipulation, hatred, vengeance, narcissism), since they make her a more formidable opponent (whether she can control her powers or not). Motivated by revenge and destruction, not compassion, love and heroism, she’d rather be everyone’s adversary than risk being anyone’s victim.
Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction (and occasionally middle grade and adult). She thanks Edelweiss, NetGalley, the Boulder Book Store, and publishers for providing her with ARCs and DRCs for review purposes. Please follow her on Tumblr and Twitter.