The Rose Society by Marie Lu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have been staring at the screen for about five minutes trying to think of how to word this review. I was completely awestruck by The Rose Society.
To say The Rose Society was dark would be an understatement of ridiculous proportions. This goes beyond the usual mild-moderate level of angst you found in the average YA novel - and I loved every minute of it. Have you ever been reading a book and thought, "Hey, the villain in this story must have an interesting story, I'd love to hear it from their perspective"? Maybe I'm the only one. But if you have as well, then The Rose Society is the book for you.
Adelina is the best kind of evil - the kind that I could still empathise with. I am a huge fan of morally ambiguous characters, because nothing in the real world is as "black and white" as how a lot of novels portray good and evil. In The Young Elites, Adelina is more of a sympathetic character; one that makes some bad choices, but not because she is a bad person. In, The Rose Society, Adelina becomes truly morally ambiguous, by deliberately making choices in the sole interest of increasing her own power - and somehow, I still empathised with her.
Lu's addition of Adelina's "whispers" really made me ponder about power dynamics. At what point does our power start to control us? Throughout the novel, Adelina's mental state deteriorates steadily. She has hallucinations, and little ghosts whisper to her and tell her to kill things, seize power, and generally wreak havoc. Adelina gradually loses control over her power, but the idea of not having it is too terrible to bear. Adelina is a wonderfully complex and interesting, if not exactly likable protagonist. An Erin Morgenstern quote kept popping into my head while reading - "Is not the dragon the hero of his own story?"
Besides Adelina, there were several characters I thoroughly enjoyed reading about. Magiano's alignment to joy makes me hopeful for Adelina's redemption (although, in many ways, I would love for her to go out guns blazing)! Magiano was a light, fluffy character in the midst of a lot of dark, heavy characters, so I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes. Despite his role as The Big Bad, Teren was self-hating and deluded to the point of sympathy. Reading the story from his perspective was jarring to say the least. Raffaelle continued to draw me in - the idea that in a world of elites with power over fire and death, that playing with someone's emotions could be just as deadly was intriguing. Though he definitely was not in the story enough.
Overall, The Rose Society was a haunting depiction of power and its ability to warp us, with an intriguing protagonist and an interesting premise. It was even better than the first novel in the series, I cannot wait to see how Adelina's story ends.
View all my reviews