“I do it because I want to. Because I can. That’s what anyone truly means when they gain power and call it altruism, isn’t it? I’m just not afraid to admit it.”
With her Roses at her side, Adelina Amouterou has become the Queen of not only Estenzia, but all the Sealands. She has raised up the malfettos, and subjected the unmarked to the very brutalities they once visited on her kind. Now, she has set her sights on conquering Tamoura, and extending her rule once more. Whispers also say that her sister Violetta fled to Tamoura after their falling out. But Adelina’s plans to conquer the world are disturbed by one problem; sooner or later she must face the inexorable deterioration of the Elites, as their immortal powers slowly destroy their all-too-mortal bodies. The voices in her head grow louder, and her illusions become more and more difficult to control. Facing this threat will require dangerous and uneasy alliances with old enemies and former friends if the world is to survive.
Over the course of The Young Elites series, Adelina has transformed from victim of her father’s brutalities into a terrifying despot in her own right. As Queen, she turns the injustices she faced on others for revenge, and has an insatiable appetite for conquest. The more powerful she becomes, the more isolated and paranoid she must necessarily be. Marie Lu has carefully crafted this slow transformation, and here we see Adelina balancing on the precipice of becoming so paranoid that she does not trust even Sergio or Magiano. The potential for her descent into complete madness is evident, even as Lu lays out an interesting new narrative path for The Midnight Star.
Rafaele and Violetta continue to form the empathetic counterpoint to Adelina’s fear and violence, with Rafaele serving as another narrative point of view. The Daggers steadfastly oppose Adelina’s empire-building, allying with Tamoura against her. As powerful Elites continue to sicken, can the extended hand of partnership be met with anything but violence from a ruler who has confused revenge with justice? Adelina and Violetta’s relationship has undergone a complex transition as the series has progressed, and that bond remains at the heart of The Midnight Star. Lu has a delicate balance to strike between making Adelina truly terrifying, and giving her motivations that are understandable despite their dark consequences. Violetta is often the key to that balance.
At the start of the series, Adelina was a girl caught between the Inquisition and the Daggers, with both groups desiring to bend her to their own purposes. Now she is powerful in her own right, but faced with a situation in which she has to decide if she will cooperate with those who she has little cause to trust. Readers’ satisfaction with The Midnight Star will likely hinge on their interest in seeing Adelina either redeemed or fully committed to her dark path.
Previously in this series: