The Evil Sorceress who wanted to be Queen, or my review of the Rose Society

The Rose Society

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)

By: Marie Lu 

Publisher: Putnam

Publication Date: October 13th, 2015

Format: Hardcover


Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.

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5 star (unicorn)

As much as I loved the first book in the series, The Young Elites, The Rose Society left me going ‘wow’. And not just because of the name, either. The Rose Society builds on its dark predecessor in an even darker way that left no doubts about the road Adelina was going down.

I honestly can’t get enough of the evil-villain story here. In Young Elites, Adelina was still gaining control of her powers, and still deeply vulnerable in a number of ways. Although I could see where things were leading, I wouldn’t have said after Young Elites that Adelina was a total villain. But in The Rose Society, it’s clear from the first page that Adelina has come into her own, in a way that is both terrifying and badass. She’s the one seeking out the mysterious Young Elite Maggiano. She’s the one who inaugurates her own group of powered people, and she’s the one who decides that she deserves to be Queen.

What fascinates me is how well-crafted Adelina is as a character, and how well-written she is. She’s dark, just this side of evil, and always toeing the line more, and yet Marie Lu writes her in a way that absolutely draws you in. It’s difficult not to root for Adelina, even when you know deep in your heart that she’s going down a Vader-esque path. And part of that is that, even when she revels in the suffering of others, even when she lets her ambition steamroller over her kindness, she’s still so tragically human that it’s breathtaking.

Again, there’s a whole group of characters around Adelina who are all painted in their own dark shades. Queen Maeve is a new figure who is endlessly fascinating, a ruler in her own right and a Young Elite with staggering powers. Maggiano is similarly fascinating, with his trickster attitude and bottomless greed. We get new looks at Teren and Guilietta, which make them more faceted. And Violetta and Raffaele add a kinder, more human aspect to their respective groups. I also liked the faint hint of romance, aka Maggiano. 

The plot is similar to The Young Elites, lots of conniving and political games. What really fascinates me is the way in which the plot is driven by how the characters clash against each other. There are elements that feel contrived, but not many. Mostly, I get the sensation that when you put such different characters in the same city, things are going to get messy. And I really like the organic sense of the plot.

There are things I wish that Marie Lu had emphasized a bit more. I think Raffaele’s position as a prostitute and the role it played in the plot was mind-blowing…although Raffaele is a character who I honestly wish I could see more of, or at least see deeper into. And I thought that Adelina’s growing darkness was clear enough that her companions in the Rose Society should have been forced to make a choice to stick with her or not. And I’m a bit peeved with the ending. The great betrayal feels anticlimactic after everything else that has happened, and the great big horrible reveal reminds me too much of the Legend series. If Marie Lu gives such a pansy ending to The Midnight Star, I might just throw the book and declare my readership to Marie Lu over.

But these are all minor things (well, we’ll see how the ending turns out). I read The Rose Society so quickly it felt like I literally devoured the thing, and this time I have no regrets. I would definitely say that The Rose Society smashed all of the stereotypes of middle books, and left me feeling almost desperate for the third book, The Midnight Star.

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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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