Review: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

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3.5…maybe…. out of 5 mid-afternoon stars

This is the third and final book in the Young Elites Trilogy. I was so excited to read it. I felt the first two were really strong (I’d actually read the 1st book a total of 3 times now) and deserved the 4 solid stars I gave them. I really loved them. Sadly, I ended up giving this a 3.5 and felt it was mostly meh. I could not give it the 4 stars I gave the other 2 books because frankly, it got boring. I do have reviews for the other two books – just look at the “All the Reviews Page” – they are listed alphabetically by the name of the series – so The Young Elites is at the bottom. (I am thinking now, a few weeks after writing this review that it’s more like a 3 star.)

When we begin, we are with Adelina, who has managed to keep Magiano and Sergio with her, but her sister Violetta has abandoned her. Not that it wasn’t for a good reason. Adelina’s illusions got away from her and she attacked her sister. It seems the story has taken up again after about a year. Adelina has managed to keep it together, with Magiano’s help, and a constant supply of herb tea. I mean, I’ve been there. Herb tea and coffee has helped me many a time. I relate. Her ruthlessness has not abated – if anything, she is more cruel and vengeful. She’s conquered a huge swathe of the continent, making her Queen of the Sealands, but she’s not done, yet. In truth, she’s looking for her sister in every place she conquers. And the illusions and nightmares are becoming stronger.

Adelina feels like without ruthlessness, without driving fear into everyone she conquers, she will not remain in power. This might be true, but she is hated by everyone. She forces the healthy and whole to join her armies. She takes titles and land away from the unmarked and gives it to the malfettos. Her Inquisition stand by while marked children abuse the unmarked. Even speaking the word malfetto can get you executed. All I kept thinking was, but what about what is happening? She’s losing control, losing her mind. What if she no longer has her powers? She’ll be at the mercy of everyone. There are daily assassination attempts, and several factions that want her dead. She throws her soldiers the occasional bone, like special favors or promotions, but there are traitors among her own men.

Raffael’s predictions are coming true. The Young Elites bodies are slowly being whittled away by their powers. Each one shows sign of deterioration in some way. It goes beyond those with powers –the world is starting to show signs of instability. Something weird is happening in the ocean. The Baliras are showing signs of being poisoned. This is the main focus of the plot.

I felt that the worldbuilding let us down a little bit. This has some political intrigue in it – at one point, political powerhouses of two major kingdoms are out of action for an extended period. In real life, you can’t just waltz out on your kingdom and expect it to be there waiting for you when you get back, but that happens here. I felt there should have been a system in place, or it should have been explained how that stability remained – and it would have been so simple. But it wasn’t done –this was a short book that was still too long for the plot it had, yet it didn’t show us a regent or the continuation of government.

There is also a part when Adelina’s people are on the way to meet up with another group to fulfill a quest, and they are attacked. At this point, I was bored and felt things were going on too long. I was hoping for a plot reveal, or something new and interesting to be added to the story at this point. But it was just an action sequence. As I was reading it, I was thinking “there is no point to this.” And there wasn’t. It was just padding. There was no consequence. A scene should advance the plot or show character development. It did neither of those things.

As for the end. I get it. I was expecting it. Not to say it was totally predictable. But this was not very long, and yet it was too long for what plot it had. I will say that I wept for the last ¼ of the book. And I mean ugly, Kim Kardashian level crying. I was emotionally invested, because I had just reread the 1st two books. But this left me disappointed, and it makes me sad because this was one of my favorite fantasy series.

**edit later
I realized that I didn’t make mention of the diversity level in this book. This is set in a Renaissance type period and so I saw most of the people as being Italian. She does describe some people as having rich “olive” skin. I believe Raffael and Enzo have deeper brown skin, and I saw Magiano as black – it is mentioned he has long braids. Adelina also has one missing eye that she lost to the blood fever. Please let me know if I’m wrong on this –  It’s been a few months, and I did not write down everything – I did do a little skimming on good reads and Tumblr.

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