What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
I heard about Legend shortly before it was released and was really intrigued by the whole premise. The fact that it was inspired by Les Miserables, one of my favorite musicals ever, just doubled my interest. But, then life happened and I never got around to reading the book despite the great reviews I kept seeing about it. Finally though I have read Legend and am looking forward to the next book in the series, Prodigy.
Legend is an interesting debut novel that provides readers with a dystopian setting that has a very militaristic feel to it. The series takes place in a country known as the Republic, a futuristic Los Angeles that is constantly at war with its neighbors known as the Colonies. There is a lot of background on the class system of the Republic which is emphasized through the Trial which is a test given to all citizens on their tenth birthday which helps determine their place in society. Besides the constant military threat, this country also has to deal with mysterious plagues that seem to particularly infect the lower classes due to the expense and availability of vaccinations and medicines. The first book doesn't really provide much background into the origin of the Republic, but I don't think it was necessary right off the bat.
Marie Lu tells her story through two main characters: Day and June. Day is a thief/con man/professional criminal who is originally from the lower classes and turned to a life of crime after failing his Trial. I found him to be a futuristic Robin Hood-like character with his tendency to target the wealthier sections of the Republic and his desperate need to help the less fortunate. He especially concentrates on finding ways to help his family despite the fact that they have believed him to be dead for the past five years. Obviously, Day does not deal well with authority and this is one of the main reasons why he becomes the prime suspect in the death of a Republic soldier. I liked Day with his determined personality and his intelligence which is definitely at odds with his failing Trial score.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Lu gives readers June. She is a military prodigy who achieved the rare perfect score on her Trial and has been raised by her brother since the mysterious deaths of her parents years ago. Unfortunately, June's brother is the soldier who was killed while trying to apprehend Day. June is assigned the task of finding and arresting Day which would give her unparalleled prestige amongst the Republic's elite. I found her to be an intriguing heroine. I loved the way that the author used the prodigy angle to showcase the differences between the classes and their reactions to the Trial scores. I also liked how June began questioning the Republic and its inner workings.
One of the most interesting aspects of Legend is the fact that it is told from dual points of view (Day and June). I thought that this was a great way to give insight into the two main characters and their contrasting experiences with the Republic. I will admit that I sometimes felt like the balance of the viewpoints was perfectly efficient since it did take me a bit to get to know both Day and Jane. For the most part though, I enjoyed Marie Lu's storytelling style.
As a dystopian book, it is shouldn't come as a surprise that Legend follows its predecessors like The Hunger Games and Divergent by providing alot of action from the very start. The plot is very twisted and full of unexpected revelations that kept me reading late into the night. I found this book to be an quick and easy read which most young adult readers will appreciate.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this YA debut with its intriguing writing style, detailed characters, and militaristic/conspiracy theory plotline. I look forward to the next book in the series especially with the hectic and dramatic ending.
2. Prodigy (Coming January 2013
3. Untitled (Coming 2014)
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins