Author(s): Marie Lu
Genre(s): Dystopia, Young Adult
Publisher/Release Date: Putnam Juvenile / January 29, 2013
Series: Legend (Book #2)
"Day, the boy from the streets with nothing except the clothes on his back and the earnestness in his eyes, owns my heart. He is beauty, inside and out. He is the silver lining in a world of darkness. He is my light." -June Iparis
Warning: This review may contain spoilers concerning Legend.
Case StudyInjured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?
The Game's AfootMiddle book syndrome. For book lovers this is a very real and very terrible thing. Many potentially great book series fall victim to it so I definitely had my concerns when reading Prodigy. Marie Lu surpassed my dystopia-obsessed expectations with Legend and I wondered if she could do it again with the sequel.
Pssh! I was a fool to worry about this. If Legend could restore my faith in dystopia, Prodigy could beat sequel suck—and guess what? It totally did. While I do feel that Prodigy lacked a bit of the tension that made Legend such an irresistible read, it’s still one of the best dystopias I’ve picked up recently. And while I missed the cat and mouse game that fueled much of the first book, there’s no shortage of other kinds of tension here. Uncertainty plagues Day and June throughout the story, especially when it comes to their relationship. Make no mistake; these are not the same Day and June that we met in Legend. The events in book #1 have forever altered them.
I think a lot of readers may agree that where we sympathized so much more with Day in Legend, our hearts belong to June in Prodigy. Day’s blinded by the desire for revenge, motivated by his pain and loss and this makes him much more vulnerable and unpredictable. He’s reactive as opposed to active, rendering him a danger to himself, June, Tess and everyone else around him. June, on the other hand, has undergone a much more positive character arc. Her tough veneer has cracked and she’s finally become relatable and likeable. She’s grown without having to compromise her strength and intelligence, which is pretty remarkable. Both protagonists have been through the ringer at this point and both have responded very differently to those experiences. They’ve each lost people they loved and are now left to face the consequences of their individual actions. The difference is, Day has started to shut down whereas June has grown from it.
Where in Legend we’re only privy to the Republic’s way of life, in Prodigy our wait pays off as we’re finally allowed a visit to the Colonies. And this is where I thought, man, Lu really gets it. She’s both ruthless and realistic about the political stuff. While there are certainly “bad guys” in the book, there are no clear cut villains. When it comes to the Republic versus the Colonies, you don’t know what to believe or who to root for. The people living in both are equally as damaged by their actions. Each of these nations thinks their way is the right way and their end game is best for everyone. And what a lot of dystopias are missing. That’s the thing that made me love books like this and The Hunger Games—our protagonists are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils or they’ll be forced to blaze their own path.
The deeper I dig into this trilogy, the more I uncover a well-crafted world full of political intrigue, romantic drama and explosive action. And that ENDING. Oh god. This can’t end well at all! I said this about Lu in my review of Legend and it rings true now—she will drop you in a bathtub full of warm fuzzies only to render you brain dead right after.
Can someone please tell me why I’m such a glutton for this kind of punishment?
Summary PrognosisLegend left my expectations very high, luckily, Lu’s sequel, Prodigy, stacks up. Have no fear, there’s no middle book syndrome here! Prodigy is an action-packed, highly intense, politically charged drama that hits all the right dystopian notes. The world building is sharper, the stakes are higher and the tension is tighter than ever before. I loved seeing the growth and change that Day and June have undergone, even if it wasn’t always for the better. I am fully invested in this series, especially after that KILLER cliffhanger!
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