"None of us are saints. We can all do better." – Marie Lu, "The Midnight Star
Marie Lu’s "The Midnight Star" is the third and final installment in the fantasy series called "The Young Elites," and it’s every bit as hypnotic and breathtaking as the first two books.
"The Midnight Star" follows the story of Adelina Amouteru as she continues her internal struggle between good and evil.
She now reigns as Queen of Kennetra, which was revealed to the reader at the end of the second book, "The Rose Society." Her life is very different from her life at the beginning of the book series, when she was mistreated by her family and society for being a "malfetto" – a person with strange markings and supernatural powers caused by blood fever.
As queen, Adelina has gained the power to kill those who once laughed at her deformities. However, there are still down sides to being a malfetto. All of the malfettos, including her allies, Sergio and Magiano, as well as her opposition, are experiencing side effects of their supernatural powers that will eventually kill them.
In Adelina’s case, voices exist inside her head, and they are becoming stronger. These voices tell her to do one thing, whereas her heart tells her to do something else.
Apart from the malfettos’ curse, something else is causing an imbalance between good and evil … The immortal world is seeping through to the mortal world, and if the malfettos don’t use their powers to stop it, the whole world will shatter.
A former friend, Raffaele, a malfetto himself, asks Adelina if she will join his allies in a dangerous quest to separate the two worlds. The final question: Should she stay in Kenettra to preserve her empire, or should she take her chances and go on this journey?
The main theme in this book is the struggle between good and evil. Adelina wants revenge on those who have wronged her in the past, but does revenge really make her a better, more complete person? Or does it fuel the voices in her head?
The immortal world described in this book is not a peaceful place with harps and lyres. Rather, it is dark and mysterious, like the Underworld. The gods there, representing all twelve malfetto gemstones, are powerful, yet volatile, which makes one wonder if they even care about the impending doom and the mortals of their earth.
Unlike most teen dystopian novels, which are typically set in future, this novel has a unique appeal because it seems to be set in the past.
The book opens up with an old man’s recollection Queen Adelina’s siege on Dumor, an island nation close to Kenettra, written in 1402. From this, one can infer the story of Adelina happened in the 1300s, around the time of the Middle Ages in Italy.
City names referenced in the book’s map, like Estenzia, mimic actual Italian names like Venezia (Venice), and the blood fever that created the malfettos is similar to the plague that ravished Europe during that time. Furthermore, even the word malfetto is only one letter different from the Italian word "malfatto" which means "deformed."
"The Midnight Star" is also special in that it is told from alternating viewpoints. Adelina tells her side of the story in first person, and her innermost thoughts are shared with the reader. Other characters’ viewpoints are told in third person, which gives the reader another perspective on the situations the characters encounter along their path to breach the gap between the mortal and immortal worlds.
Although the novel is an incredibly beautiful story in terms of the plot and major themes, it lacks character interaction.
Compared to the previous two novels, the main characters, the malfettos, in this book are rather sober and there are only a handful of instances when the interactions feel warm and genuine. Maybe it’s because the characters have truly been hardened by hate and fear, but it would’ve been nice to see a glimpse or two of their past selves dispersed throughout the book to remind the reader that some things can still stay the same.
Overall, "The Midnight Star" is a satisfying conclusion to a series that’s great for those who love YA dystopian novels but want to swap the futuristic sci-fi theme for a medieval theme.
Sharon Luo is a sophomore at Williamsville East High School.