The Young Elites

The Young Elites Literary Elements


Epic Fantasy

Setting and Context

The mythical country of Kenettra in 1361. Kenettra is styled after medieval Italy.

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator and point of view of the novel change multiple times. The majority of the book is narrated by our anti-hero, Adelina Amouteru, in the first person. This allows the reader to experience what Adelina goes through and helps us identify with her. At other points of the book the story is told in the third person from the perspectives of Enzo, Raffaele, and Teren. While we only get Enzo’s perspective once and for a brief time; the story switches to the perspectives of Raffaele and Teren many times for long stretches. We learn interesting and shocking details about the two characters when this happens, such as Raffaele’s true opinion on Adelina and Teren being a malfetto.

Tone and Mood

The tone and mood of The Young Elites are serious, dark, and somber. The lives of our central characters, and of the malfetto at large, are marked by persecution, death, and suffering. Just when you think things may be looking up, the plot twists and sets us on a new path even darker than the one we were on before. Lu is dealing with serious topics and her attitude towards both the audience and the subject matter reflects that. There are brief moments of levity, such as when Adelina interacts with the Dagger Society in more social atmospheres. However, these moments are short-lived because they often precede darker, serious events. For example, when Adelina and Enzo dance during the Spring Moons festival, the mood is romantic and sweet but quickly turns when they begin to kill members of the Inquisition.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The blurred line between protagonist and antagonist is in part what makes The Young Elites so interesting. While we clearly have a protagonist in the form of Adelina because the story is told principally from her point of view, thus making it easy for us to empathize with her, Adelina’s actions don’t necessarily make her a ‘hero’. However, that does not mean that Adelina’s foes (her father, Teren, the Inquisition) are heroes either. Furthermore, in the character of Raffaele we have someone who our protagonist believes supports her, but who in fact may be one of her principle antagonists in the imminent future. So not only is the line between protagonist and antagonist blurred in The Young Elites, but characters slip back and forth across this line as well.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in the novel is the struggle between the malfetto and the rest of Kenettran society. All other conflicts in the book, such as Adelina’s inner conflict with her powers and their dark sources, stem from this central struggle.


The climax of the book occurs on the first day of the Tournament of Storms, when Teren kills Enzo with Adelina’s unwitting help. The bulk of the book had been building up to this clash between the Dagger Society and the Inquisition, and the rest of the book after this point deals with the fallout of Enzo’s death and Adelina’s role in it.


Lu’s style of foreshadowing is muted and understated. Unlike other authors, she does not give us clues or indications that instances occurring early on in her books will take on new significance towards the end. An excellent example of this is the nickname Adelina’s mother gave her, kami gourgaem, or 'little wolf'. A flashback tells us that Adelina’s mother thought her daughter was fiery and would need that fire in the future. A few months after this memory, the blood fever hit and the words of Adelina’s mother proved tragically true. The nickname, 'little wolf', also seems to foreshadow Adelina’s various transformations in her young adult years. For example, her hair turning wolf-like in color, and her personality becoming cool and calculating, like a wolf on the hunt. These connections are subtle and fly under the radar to the point where the reader does not realize Lu is leaving breadcrumbs for events to come.




Lu uses many historical allusions to build the Young Elites universe. The world is modeled after 14th-century medieval Italy. This is evidenced by the names of the characters, their style of dress (doublets and heavy gowns), and the social organization of their society. The presence of merchants and courtiers, a royal family and a group like the Inquisition Axis, all suggest the story is set in a past place and time. With the blood fever and its effect of fracturing Kenettran society, Lu is drawing upon the Black Death and its legacy in medieval Europe. And the Inquisition Axis, their connection to the Kenettran royal family, and Teren’s religious justifications for his hatred towards malfettos are clearly allusions to the Spanish Inquisition.


The Young Elites is rich in visual imagery. Lu uses highly descriptive language to paint images in our minds of the central characters, their powers, and pivotal scenes involving them. She also switches around the narration and point of view of the novel to further create illustrations of what occurs.


On the surface, it is paradoxical that Teren wants to eradicate malfettos and thinks of them as beings lower than dogs, when he himself is one. However, Teren is able to mentally separate himself from other malfettos because of Queen Giulietta’s promise to him. Since Teren thinks the gods will forgive him for being a malfetto, what seems to be contradictory to us is sensible to him.


Lu uses parallelism during Adelina’s iconic “my turn” inner monologue: “I am tired of losing. I am tired of being used, hurt, and tossed aside. It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt. My turn” (Lu 2014 pp. 599). The parallel structures and repetition of the sentences allow us to feel as Adelina’s passion, anger, and desire for vengeance escalates. As her emotions build, her sentences become more clipped, more staccato, until a new, colder Adelina emerges -- an Adelina that will no longer be manipulated, but who rather relishes the opportunity to hurt others.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



Adelina’s powers are a crowning example of personification in The Young Elites. The first time she uses her powers (the night her father died) she takes her fear and anger and uses them to conjure up humanlike “towering black shapes” with bloody eyes (Lu 2014 pp.42). Having never before used her powers, it’s interesting that Adelina’s gut reaction was to create horrific humanoid figures. While later on she is able to create specific illusions when she concentrates, Adelina resorts to making human figures whenever she is in danger and panicking. We see this when Enzo is training her and she becomes overwhelmed by his fiery powers. She creates “black silhouettes” with “scarlet red” eyes to defend herself (Lu 2014 pp. 188). Unless she has a specific illusion in mind, it seems the default representation of Adelina’s immaterial powers are human forms.