The Rose Society: Review
“Fear motivates, more than love or ambition or joy. Fear is more powerful than anything else in the world. I have spent so long yearning for things—for love, for acceptance—that I do not really need. I need nothing except the submission that comes with fear. I do not know why it took me so long to learn this.”
Occasionally, after finishing a book, I need to take a day or two (or several) to come down from the emotional high felt during the read. I like to collect my thoughts - give my critical mind time to catch up and reflect on the story as a whole, then decide if that initial rating is truly deserved.
Sometimes, this happens so unexpectedly in a sequel, that I need even more time to evaluate how it could have happened. After not thinking much about The Young Elites (read that review here), I went into this sequel feeling like I was picking up a new series, as if the first book never really happened. So, my expectations were neutral - much the same as my feelings for Young Elites. I'm glad to say I found none of the issues I had in the first book here - I was sucked in from the moment I started, and it's safe to say I am emotionally invested in Adelina and her future. I didn't care for the Daggers in book one, or their quest to take back the throne...and I wonder if Marie Lu set that up purposefully as it was never really Adelina's desire, more the Daggers' making use of her. Which sets us up perfectly to hate them right alongside her.
I'll echo several other reviews I've read and say this book isdark . I don't know why I was drawn to Adelina so much more this time, because she has slipped past moral grayness into full-on villainess, and it is excellent. So many times authors feed us characters who are supposed to be evil but their thoughts are always showing the true hero underneath and how good their intentions are.
Not here. Here, Adelina has stopped running from the inner voices that have cried out for revenge and brutality since she discovered her power. She's not acting for others anymore, she's acting for herself. She's collecting her own group of Elites to return and stamp out Teren, the Daggers, the Inquisitors...everyone. Because why shouldn't she, the feared White Wolf, make everyone bow to her? Why shouldn't she crush those who have wronged her? Why shouldn't she take what she wants? It's what everyone else does, no matter who they have to hurt to achieve their goals. Adelina won't be hurt any longer in the paths of others' ambitions...she's got her own.
Every evil, spiteful thought you would find yourself thinking of your enemies, Adelina thinks and acts on. Her new followers are with her because they are like her...they understand the world and how loyalty works. Loyalty goes as far as how much of what they want you can give...and she accepts them all for their honesty. It is refreshing to have a character fully embrace the dark...because that's what is going to have me longing to see her saved. And damnit, she better be saved in the next book. Marie Lu isn't afraid to take a character to low depths, and I sank down with Adelina and understand completely why she's there. But my heart is breaking for her, as hope for her soul and sanity slip farther and farther beneath the surface...
There is one glimmer of hope in Magiano, and I am afraid for him if he risks his light stepping in Adelina's path. He is the only one who would not use her, who does not judge her, who allows her to make her own path and doesn't try and force his opinions. Because of that acceptance, and the brief instance of peace we saw when he and Adelina connected, he is her only hope...but it is arguable if she even deserves to be saved at this point. Is it probably going to be a love conquers all scenario? Maybe...I honestly feel like Lu isn't afraid to dash our hearts to pieces, tragically hoping for Adelina's salvation. And that would probably be an excellent twist of tradition, to have our anti-hero not be saved...
But I hope she is.
View some spoiler topics over on Goodreads.