Friday, October 7, 2016
Review: The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Title: The Rose Society (The Young Elites, #2)
Author: Marie Lu
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Holy. Shit. What did I just read? The Rose Society is dark, twisted, and completely unpredictable. It takes more political turns than its predecessor did, but Adelina--our heroine turned quasi-villain--remains at the core of this novel. In The Young Elites Adelina tries to please those closest to her, whether they be her father or sister or The Daggers, a group of Elites who take her in and save her. After being betrayed by everyone, though, Adelina gives herself over to the darkness. She forms her own group of Elites, The Roses, and sets out to recruit the best alongside her sister, Violetta, who she convinces herself to trust. But in her quest to overturn the Inquisition and exact her revenge, Adelina slowly turns darker and darker, losing parts of herself within her power.
I found The Rose Society to be scintillating from start to finish. We have Adelina, who seeks Magiano, the elusive Elite whose powers are legendary but no one knows how to find. We have Raffaele and the Daggers, who align themselves with the Beldish Queen, Maeve, and her dangerous abilities. And then we have Teren, still by the side of the Queen but whose visions for the future are beginning to veer drastically away from his Queen's plans. These three story lines converge seamlessly throughout the novel, leaving us swimming in a sea of lies, betrayals, and ultimately plot twists--Lu just doesn't disappoint.
The character development in this middle novel is on par with the unpredictable plot line. Adelina, of course, is still battling with her power and discovering new aspects to it at every turn. Violetta really comes into her own in this novel, emerging from Adelina's memories and becoming a character who has her own flaws, agenda, and strengths. We learn much more about the pasts of Raffaele and Lucent, two of the Daggers, and I loved getting that closer insight into these two characters who play really fascinating roles in this story. Maeve, the Beldish Queen is someone who I am still not quite sure I know, fully, but I'm glad we were introduced to her and I want, very much, to see her play a larger role in the finale. Teren becomes less of a villain and more of an obsessed, deranged human being in this one, but it humanizes him, strangely. And then there's Magiano; mysterious, clever, and powerful. He's the opposite of Enzo in so many ways and I loved this rogue thief, especially his light-hearted nature and how he inspires Adelina. Lu does a fantastic job of balancing the darker and lighter characters together so that the darkness in this tale never becomes overwhelming. Plus, there are a whole host of even more new characters--and old ones--who we come across in this novel and I really enjoyed traveling to different parts of this world and observing the changes in culture and politics and how that affected the characters from those parts of the world. This fantasy has really become global and I love nothing more than this type of all-encompassing world-building.
The romance in this series has always been a little...doubtful, I guess I'd say. I wasn't ever sold on Enzo and Adelina's romance in The Young Elites, perhaps because I was more sold on their connection and the fact that they were using each other for their own emotional gain than any true love that lay between them. I do, however, believe that there is a strong, hopeful romance introduced in The Rose Society but it very much takes a backseat to the politics in this story. I think the romance will be important in the finale but, so far, this has proven to be a character-driven storyline more than a romantically-driven one.
I am thoroughly looking forward to the finale in this explosive, wonderful series. Lu has created a heroine who isn't always likable, a world that is complex and intriguing, and she keeps throwing plot twists our way. I have no idea where the future of this tale lies but I am confident that it is in good hands. If you're as fed-up of the fantasy-lite sweep that has infected YA lately, then The Rose Society will cure you. It's fantasy at its best, but it's also YA at its finest. Without a doubt, this dark, strange middle book is a favorite for the year.