100-Character Breakdown: An emotional, character-focused conclusion to a stunning and diverse fantasy trilogy.
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Putnam (October 2016)
Marie Lu’s The Young Elites series has thrived with its complex protagonist, intricately imagined world, and excellent plot. But the final installment The Midnight Star is so much less about plot and so much more about character. The plot is woven tightly, creating a strong foundation, but the character development is where this novel stands out. And it’s no surprise, given how fascinating and original its protagonist has been throughout the series.
Adelina Amouteru has come a long way since the beginning of the series: she started as a frail girl persecuted by her father, and now she’s Queen of the Sealands, using her powers of illusion to lead a chaotic siege on the world around her. Once part of the Daggers, Adelina now has her own army. The Daggers are her enemy, for they cast her out as the darkness within her grew. But now she must reunite with them on a quest to prevent the destruction of the world as she knows it.
While this is an intriguing plot — high stakes and full of conflict, too — it is also a device to bring all of these characters back together once more, forcing them to work together. It is here that all their pain unravels, and the characters truly arc. Adelina’s relationship with her sister Violetta is heartbreaking. The depth between them is unending, and their relationship is the beating heart of the book. But the relationships between all of the other Young Elites are filled with complexity and emotion as well. However, outside of this primary cast, some of the characters fall flat. One nation is explored more deeply in this book than before, but isn’t as fleshed out as it could be; Lu created an utterly vibrant world for this series, so it’s disappointing to see a part of it not explored to the fullest. Though this may be the sacrifice of a novel so much more focused on character: some parts may seem hollow just as the focus feels like a well of depth.
The stunning narrative, character development, originality, and diversity makes this a standout series, and I’m happy to say it ended as strong as it started. We need more series that are unafraid to explore diversity. Lu dives in with profound explorations of discrimination, same-sex relationships, and characters from varied backgrounds. This depth sustains the novel, bringing Lu’s The Young Elites series to a powerful, heartfelt conclusion. The Midnight Star is well worth the read — just make sure to take the time to read The Young Elites and The Rose Society first.