Author: Marie Lu
Review: I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things about Lu’s work, as well as bad on Goodreads and decided to check it out for myself.
Simplistic and bold, the cover of Legend, I assume, is meant to catch the attention of adventure seekers who are sick of the pretty girls in impossible dresses looking distraught on book cover after book cover. I know that talking about the cover of the book isn’t really reviewing it, but I think it is important to note the simplicity of it because Lu is already showing the defiant nature of her novel. If the popular choice for a novel is that of a woman crying, then you’ll see an impossible amount of weeping women in your local bookstore, but then imagine eyeing among all of the sad faces, Lu’s novel in all it’s silver and gold glory (nice colour scheme, by the way).
What was once the United States has becoming a feuding war zone. The Republic (where our protagonists reside) is at war with their neighbors, the Colonies. Much like other dystopian worlds, The Republic takes its children at the ripe age of ten and tests them so as to ascertain who are the weak, the passable, and the exceptional future citizens. June and Day, the protagonists, are as different as can be. While June is an intelligent, rich, and promising girl, Day is a poor felon on the run from The Republic. When June’s brother is murdered and all signs point to Day, she must decide what’s real and what is just a fabrication of The Republic.
What ensues is a crazy adventure full of suspense, fun, and of course, romance (you seriously didn’t think that there would be no romance, did you?) While there are some awesome aspects of Lu’s novel, there are some weaker points as well.
I know it isn’t fair to say that Legend is predictable because it is from two perspectives, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. While it wasn’t a huge deal like in some other novels I’ve recently read, it still bugged me. I wish that I could for once play detective with a book and be wrong at the end. In a good way.
This is a minor point that I hope Lu works on for her sequel: the speed of the novel. The action and events that are described in the inside flap fully begin to take place about halfway through the novel. I know that the author is building up suspense, but while her novel is beautifully written, it dragged a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the creation of the background information for the reader. I also agree with Lu giving the reader time to fall in love with the characters by giving us more time with them before all hell breaks loose, but she could have moved it a little faster. I really loved this book, but this was an annoying aspect of Lu’s writing. Though I’m sure others would disagree.
Day can be kind of arrogant and I still don’t know how to respond to that. I remember reading what he thinks of pretty girls and what he’d do to them (at fifteen!) and thinking wow, that must be one advanced community! (And in fact, it probably is considering that they get tested at 10). I’m on the fence about his character.
The concept of this story appears unoriginal and overused, but Lu adds a special touch of something that gives the novel a bit of a push out of the usual dystopian novels. The rise of the political “we won’t take your crap” novels shows that some writers are playing with fiction in order to comment about society without adding magic, vampires, or werewolves into the mix.
Lu uses different coloured text for when speaking from Day or June’s perspective. Not only is this fun and helpful, but the effect acts as a way of showing more profoundly the differences between June and Day. Like with the cover, the artistic decision with the coloured text is genius.
I loved the characters. Not just June and Day, but the minor characters who end up affecting the protagonists’ lives. I liked that Lu didn’t overdo the thirst for blood that some characters have (not vampiric thirst, just crazy killer thirst) and that her true villains appear calculated and intelligent, rather than angry and vengeful. The side characters that work for The Republic are creepy as hell in their stoic appearances and I loved it.
I mentioned the problem of predictability, but let me tell you that Lu played with my mind. I am not going to write this spoiler down, but just remember that not everything is as it seems (this however is one instance, hence the negative side of this stays up-top).
I’m on the fence about the relationship of the two protagonists. I’ll have to wait for the sequel to decide whether I like it or not.
June’s character is a bit naive, but she’s powerful. She plans and eventually finds the truths that she needs to learn and she’s a good character to follow in this series.
If you like dystopian novels with a kick or young adult novels that can be devoured in one sitting then I recommend you read Legend.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk