It’s going to be Legend—wait for it…
Day should be dead. After failing the Trial—a national aptitude test in the Republic of America—he escapes the clutches of the government, and becomes their most wanted criminal. Stories of his break ins and scuffles with the military make him legendary amongst the people.
June is a prodigy. Scoring a perfect 1500 on the Trial, she is the youngest student at Drake University at sixteen years old. Orphaned at a young age, she is training to be a soldier like her older brother Metias, the only family she has left.
Then one night during a hospital raid, Metias is killed. Instantly promoted to the military, June is intent on vengeance.
The number one suspect? Day.
Is this the most compelling plot? No.
I’ve come to develop a sort of “just get through it” attitude with first novels in a series because set ups are often the same, especially with dystopia. Here’s this government—now here’s how the protag finds out it totally sucks to live under it. Now, rebel!
So it really wasn’t a shock to learn about the corruption in the Republic. And from there, it was standard action dystopia. What I liked was that, despite these characters’ smarts, they are drawn together by accident. As if they were pulled together by fate.
What was much more compelling were the characters.
I love Day and June. They are intelligent. They are realistically emotional. They are flawed. I also like how despite these similarities, they are fundamentally different people.
The various side characters are also very well developed and interesting. Tess, Kaede, and Thomas are easily favourites of mine.
The romance seemed a little forced to me, but I can see it happening. It was just too…instant. I mean, they had time to admire each other’s talents, but June and Day sort of shoot into it headfirst.
Marie Lu’s writing is amazing in two respects.
(1) She can really rock the two points of view. June and Day are so well developed, mostly because of the way she writes their point of views. June’s voice is logical, analytical, formal, and dedicated. Meanwhile, Day is casual and uses slang, analyzing without sounding scientific, and a tad more emotional.
(2) The world building. Marie Lu has a talent for imagery and world building. The brutality of the military, the luxury of the Gem sector, the bleakness of the slums—it’s all there, plain as day and vivid.
I feel like this is a story about brutality. To what measure to we discipline ourselves, put ourselves and others at risk for the sake of order? And how do we know that order is fair?
This is huge in a militaristic government like the Republic. This is huge for June, a girl who’s spent her life dedicated to her country. And this is huge for Day, a boy defying the country at every turn.
Recommendation: Read. While I really enjoyed Legend I’m not dying to read it again. It does what it’s meant to do: set up a trilogy with compelling characters, an interesting premise, and the promise of a thought provoking rebellion against the government. I’m looking forward to the next book, Prodigy.