Author: MARIE LU
Genre: YA DYSTOPIAN
Published: November 2011, PUTNAM
Series: Legend #1 (upcoming series)
Source: Publisher via Book Expo America 2011, no other compensation given for honest review
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.
There are many books that catch my attention from the first page. Perhaps a lesser amount will keep my attention through the first few chapters. While I read through almost every book that I start (DNF is kind of a foreign phrase to me; I very rarely dislike a book so much that I just can’t finish it), there are a select few that stand out in my mind once I’m done. I’m talking about the books that stay with me in my dreams. The books that I want to talk about immediately with anyone who will listen. The books that ruin the next book after, because nothing can compare. LEGEND is one of these books.
All of the issues I’ve had with YA dystopian - the continuity issues, the suspension of belief lasting from start to finish, the love triangles and sometimes insta-love - all of that is missing in LEGEND. This is the first YA dystopian novel that I have read in a while that blew me away, right away. Even THE HUNGER GAMES took a while for me to get. But, Marie Lu found that secret combination of elements that just did it for me from start to finish.
LEGEND contains dual narrative from Day and June, the diametrically opposed characters in the Republic. Lu starts off the book with Day, and I think it was one of the reasons I was pulled in so quickly. With Day’s narrative, the government’s treatment of the average citizen is revealed. The plagues and the violence from the police are normal occurrences, and Day is a sympathetic character. He’s a modern-day Robin Hood, subverting the Republic to help his family and fellow citizens.
But then Lu throws in June, who lives the high life being the Republic’s golden girl. Somehow, she becomes a sympathetic character also. For me, the beauty and greatness of Lu’s writing is that she doesn’t just tell the reader about June in the narrative. There is a real immersion into her life. June is a smart character, not just intelligence-wise, but she can also hold her own in a street fight. Far from being the character that walks around with rose-colored glasses, June grows so much during the course of the novel. Yes, she believes the Republic’s hype - from her sheltered place at the top of the pyramid, why shouldn’t she? - but it doesn’t last, and once her eyes are opened, watch out.
I blew through LEGEND, because for every page that I read, I wanted to read more. I liked that Day and June didn’t meet right away, that their lives were separate for a while, and as a reader I was able to really see the differences in life under the Republic. I liked the inclusion of the war against the Patriots, which seemed to pit the citizens against, not the government, but this other enemy. I liked that June experienced life through Day’s eyes when she was tracking him.
Honestly, if you have been looking for a YA dystopian that is mind-blowing and spectacular, that wraps up a story line, while not leaving the reader standing on a cliff, and that doesn’t read like candy floss, LEGEND is your book.
5/5 for plot
5/5 for characters
4.5/5 for language
My Rating: 14.5/15 (5 stars)
Must Read, if you liked:
The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel