Last-book-in-a-series malaise, or my review of The Midnight Star

The Midnight Star

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3)

By: Marie Lu 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 11th, 2016

Format: Hardcover


There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

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I have a confession: this book has been sitting in my to-read pile for literally months (along with, I admit, a really shameful number of other popular sequels). Why? Maybe because I didn’t actually want the series to end for me. Or maybe I didn’t want to immerse myself in Adelina’s world for one last, inevitably tragic time. I genuinely didn’t see how the ending to this series could be in any way happy.

But I took a deep breath and picked it up anyways.

In case you didn’t get this impression from the first two books, Midnight Star is a book that will rip at your heartstrings. It’s basically a perfect recipe for tragedy: a despot whose people hate her and who is slowly going mad, despite the work of her faithful companion to help her. And yes, Adelina was basically a horrible ruler and a despot. But the game is very abruptly changed when Violetta falls ill, from a magical disease affecting all of the Young Elites. Raffaele then devises a dramatic plan to save them that involves traveling to the world of the Gods and bargaining with Death herself.

If this book had been about Adelina’s slow descent into madness and cruelty, ending with a dramatic showdown against the rest of the Young Elites, I wouldn’t have liked it nearly as much as I did. By distilling the story into what it had always been, a tale of two sisters and what they would do for each other, Marie Lu showed not a story about an evil queen, but one about what we all are–shades of grey. The fact that this story is in so many ways about redemption is also something that made me teary-eyed.

Out of the many things that I liked about this book, let me point out that the love story is excellent. Adelina finally lets go of Enzo, in more ways than one, and accepts that he never truly loved her. She frees herself then to turn to Magiano, who has literally seen her at her worst and stayed by her because he believes that she’s better than that. I have a soft spot in my heart for stories that don’t treat first love like the end-all, be-all, and showcase instead mature, nurturing relationships. Adelina and Magiano are the poster children for this trend, and I liked every moment of the love story.

But I liked the entire plot. The uneasy truce between the Elites that turns into friendship, the rekindling of old romances, the great quest beyond the edge of the world, the bond between sisters…I genuinely didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, which was a lot.

That being said, the ending made me cry bittersweet tears. Sweet, because it was a final act of redemption with plenty of mythological reference. Bitter, because I was so desperately hoping that the ending could be happy despite my initial thoughts. And then sweet again, because of the wonderful Magiano and proof that what he and Adelina had really was enduring, all the way to the edge of the world.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.

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