This book was one of my most anticipated of fall 2016, although I did start it with a sense of caution. I’m painfully/happily aware of how Marie Lu can break my heart (see devastation after the ending of Champion), so I was pretty sure my heart would not come out of this book alive. I was right. This book devastated me, but I loved every single second of it. I mean the panda is there, and it’s Friday, so it’s obviously a all-time favorie and a Fangirl Favorites Friday. Just saying. DISCLAIMER: I am very tired and very emotional about this book, so prepare for some rambling. ALSO, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE YOUNG ELITES AND THE ROSE SOCIETY, BUT NOT THE MIDNIGHT STAR.
GOODREADS SUMMARY BECAUSE IT’S REALLY LATE: 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.
Adelina is probably one of my favorite villains of all time. There is something about her that is just so compelling, something so terrifying yet so sympathy inducing. Unlike basically every single other story where the protagonist is not just an antihero but a villain, we don’t know how Adelina’s story will end. We don’t know her story’s ending. And I think that’s what makes her so entrancing. We watch her rise and fall, and ultimately sink, so many times in the first two books. By The Midnight Star, she is completely dark, save for one bright spot: Magiano. Magiano just exudes so much joy and happiness, almost the polar opposite of Adelina. I so desperately wanted to shake Adelina really hard and ask her WHY SHE WAS SO AFRAID TO LET MAGIANO IN FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE. Sorry, I realllllly ship them. I do understand though, about Adelina’s extreme fear of betrayal and how completely her trust has been shattered. The first few chapters focus on the terror of Adelina’s rule. What I find so interesting about her reign is that she was turning the tables for those previously oppressed. There is a scene where Adelina reflects on how the survivors of the blood fever used to have to hide their marks, and now the unmarked try to mark themselves so that they may enjoy the new rights of the marked. This role reversal was an extremely interesting dynamic, and it was wonderful to see an example of the oppressed finally getting their much needed rights. I do wish that this section of the book had been longer, as I would have loved to see more of both Adelina’s rule as well as her continual downward spiral into darkness. The second part of the novel was almost quest-like, and it focused on the huge problem revealed in the Rose Society: the unraveling of the gifts. This journey brought together many of my favorite characters, such as Raffaele, Maeve, and Violetta. Violetta and Adelina’s relationship was an example of the type of sisterhood that desparately needs to be explored more often in YA literature. It was so heartbreaking to see the huge rift caused by their disagreements over Adelina’s power, but they truly loved each other so much, each in their own way. The ending of the book just completely broke me, and I cried so much. I definitely agree that the story should have followed that arc though, and I think it makes the story so much more meaningful. The ending of the book did bring me more closure than Champion, and I feel like it really brought the book and all the themes together really nicely.
As I’ve said time and time again, I will read literally anything Marie Lu writes, although I know to always be prepared for heartbreak. This book’s pain levels were like Champion x3, so fair warning. It’s so worth the tears though!!!