Lu makes heavy use of the cliché “the eyes are the window to the soul” in The Young Elites. She reinforces what we already know about the personalities and characteristics of central characters by using vivid imagery to describe their eyes. For example, she describes Enzo’s eyes as being “hard, midnight dark, but alight with fire” (Lu 2014 pp. 72). This description supports what we already know about Enzo—it illustrates his staunch belief in the right of the Young Elites to rule and his fiery ambition. Another example would be how she depicts Teren’s eyes. She writes, “there is madness in those eyes, something violent and savage” (Lu 2014 pp. 63). Teren’s eyes reflect his inner rage and abhorrence towards malfettos, and his desire to purge them from the Kenettra.
Time and time again different characters in the book remind us that Adelina’s powers are fueled by fear and hate. However Lu does not simply tell us how horrifying Adelina’s powers can be. She also shows us through thick descriptions whenever Adelina uses her abilities. A great example of this is the death of Sir Martino. When Adelina calls forth her powers in reaction to her father’s violence towards her, Lu paints a scene of “towering black shapes”, with crooked bodies, bloody eyes, and “fanged mouths so wide that they stretched all across their silhouetted faces, splitting their heads in two” (Lu 2014 pp. 42). These fearsome specters are corporal manifestations of the fear and hate Adelina and her father had for one another. The way in which Lu describes them allows readers to feel a bit of the fear themselves.
Similar to Adelina, Enzo’s powers are closely tied to who he is as a person. His ability to manipulate the threads of heat energy is mirrored in his fiery ambition and relentless pursuit of his goals. Furthermore, Lu’s use of imagery when describing Enzo’s powers means that readers can feel the heat from the fires Enzo conjures. For instance, the first time he trains Adelina Enzo begins by shooting two columns of fire at her. When Adelina thinks about the heat of the flames that’s burning her shirtsleeves and stifling her breathing, because her chapters from a first-person perspective, it’s as if the reader’s own breathing becomes constricted.
Enzo’s death is perhaps the most pivotal event in The Young Elites. His death had a ripple affect that set-up the major conflicts for the rest of the series. Raffaele kicking Adelina out of the Dagger Society (thus becoming her enemy), Maeve going to Kenettra, Adelina forming the Rose Society—all these are events are the fallout of Enzo’s death. Because this event is so important not only to the storyline of The Young Elites novel but also to The Young Elites trilogy as a whole, Lu pays particular attention to how she crafts the scene. She uses powerful words such as 'slashes', 'wrenching', and 'plunges' to convey the violence and pain felt by Enzo and Adelina as Teren is killing Enzo. She also switches from Adelina’s first person perspective to Teren’s third person perspective. Offering the perspective of two different characters further brings the scene into focus. We witness firsthand Adelina’s pain and self-loathing over her role in Enzo’s death, and are privy to Teren’s twinge of loss and regret over his murder of Enzo.
The Young Elites Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Young Elites is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.