17 October 2013

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Author(s): Marie Lu
Genre(s): Dystopia, Young Adult
Publisher/Release Date: Putnam Juvenile / November 29, 2011
Series: Legend (Book #1)
"This is a boy who must've barely passed his Trial. But that doesn't make sense...He has so many more sides to him that I wonder if he has always lived in these poor sectors...A beautiful mystery.“ -June Iparis
 Case Study
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. (synopsis from Goodreads)

The Game's Afoot
I'm cursed. Ever since I read The Hunger Games, I've been unable to connect with other dystopias, which really sucks because I love the genre as a whole. So I'd try book after book without success. No matter what I read (Divergent), it just didn't measure up. I was on the verge of a breakdown.


Fortunately, after a year of not giving up, I've finally had a breakthrough! Marie Lu has broken the dreaded dystopia curse. Folks, I read Legend and I adored it.

RAGING SUCCESS!!!
You guys, Legend has all the things I want in a YA dystopian story --- political intrigue, governmental conspiracies, systematic plagues, a nation at war and two incredibly strong protagonists. SO GOOD.

And while I will admit it's hard to ignore the comparisons to The Hunger Games, I don't necessarily think that it's a bad thing in this case. Where other books try to be THG, Legend doesn't. Sure, Lu uses a similar framework but she makes the story totally her own without going into copycat territory. The story lacks a certain complexity but it still has substance. Lu gives you just enough detail to make you want to know more. I had so many theories running around in my head, and though my intial guess ended up being right, Lu did a great job throwing me off the trail. The answers are never obvious and she keeps you guessing.

Another thing I really loved about this book are its two main characters, Day and June. Each one is strong and resiliant and combative. June is the Republic's prodigy child, smart, perceptive and completely obedient, everything a government could want in a military leader. She's virtually perfect which is both frustrating and somewhat admirable. Then one day she finally meets her match---the boy who killed her brother. Now June is out for vengence. Day is a modern-day Robin Hood, sabotaging the Republic and helping the needy. He's very Aladdin meets Gale (THG) in terms of his resourcefulness and blantant disdain for the ruling elite. He doesn't easily trust others but is fiercly loyal to those he loves.

Speaking of the ruling elite, there's Commander Jameson. She is reminiscent of President Coin (THG) and Jeanine (Divergent) in that there's something very sinister about her motivations. She is pretty much the person that sets our two protagonists on a violent collison course. And it is a spectacular collison, indeed. But what really makes Day and June so wonderful is that no matter how strong they are on the surface, they each have crippling weaknesses. June's big one is her unquestioning devotion to the Republic and Day's is his reckless attempt to protect his family. I have to admit, it's really nice to see June's hard veneer start to crack as the story progresses. I'd say she grows individually more than Day, but they each grow together. They are complementary beings, strengthening where the other is weak which is what eventually makes them such an effective team. I also really liked that there wasn't insta-love between them right off the bat. Their relationship builds slowly, just as the trust does between them. It's a natural progression.

Legend is a great story that's backed by even greater characters. Honestly, that's one of the reasons The Hunger Games has really stuck with me. It's also what a lot of other dystopias have been missing. Lu lures you in with a hint of some serious action, keeps you there with promises of kisses and then rips out your heart with bullets through the brain (literally). It's quite an intense ride. The Hunger Games will probably always be my favourite dystopia but Legend has managed the impossible---it's reconnected me to the genre that I've loved so much, for so long.

Summary Prognosis
Legend is a fast-paced, easy read that has all the allure of a good dystopia. The story is simple but effective. Lu's words are concise and her characters are strong but wonderfully flawed. If you're stuck in a dystopian rut (like me), I recommend this series to pull you out of it. I rarely say this, but Legend is idea for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Trust me! It delivers!

Rating: ★★★★★


Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible 
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website

10 comments:

  1. Ohh I am so glad you like it! The second one is great, it is a little second book-y but still full of action. I definitely know what ya mean (though I did really enjoy Divergent) but there are a lot of books that try to be dystopian but fall short. I have been much more hesitant to pick up some for that reason.

    Ashley @The Quiet Concert

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    1. I really did, Ashley. I'd been in a Hunger Games rut for so long that it was nice (after having some distance from THG) to finally feel good about the genre again. I pre-ordered Allegiant so I think I'm going to go back and re-read the rest of the Divergent series. Hopefully I'll feel a little better about it the 2nd time around now that I'm over my Hunger Games hangover.

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  2. lol about the raging success gif. God I love Brad. Anyway, Legend sounds like good dystopia. Sometimes I'll read this genre and it's just meh. I've been on the fence about reading the Divergent series. Glad you loved this one!

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    1. I think I read Divergent too closesly (aka IMMEDIATELY) after reading The Hunger Games, so I don't think I appreciated it as much as if I had read it now. Either way, I love the genre but since it's gotten so popular, not much surprises me from it anymore.

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  3. I'm so glad you liked this one! I've been thinking about reading it for a while now, and I simply haven't gotten to it! You're the first person I know that I've seen mention it, so I really didn't have info from any other source. I will have to put this on my list of books to read soon!

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    1. I don't usually play the compare game (meaning --- if you like this then you'll love this) but I DO think it stacks up to the likes of Divergent and The Hunger Games. There are a ton of dystopias out there now and I definitely think this is one of the better ones. You really should check it out!

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  4. I'm glad you finally found a dystopian you love! Those gifs are hilarious. I have yet to read this one and I don't know why. I have gotten it at the library before and then just never get around to reading it. I guess I should change that huh?

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    1. I know! It's about time! If you're a fan of dystopia then I highly recommend this series, especially since the final book comes out in November. It's the perfect time to read them!

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    2. Now since you told me the last one comes out this month it is the perfect time to read them!!!!! :D

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