Series: Legend #1
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.
Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
Legend by Marie Lu is an entertaining read for those who enjoy military-based dystopians, but it ultimately fails to separate itself form the rest of the pack in terms of characterization and plot. Basically, it is a fun story, but it is a story I have seen numerous times, and its success with individual readers will depend on how new the tale and the dystopian genre are to them.
Just from reading the jacket summary, one can see the plot line is very standard. An elite solider in a dystopian military society gets entangled with a boy from the slums. Romance and the revelation of the evilness of the society are revealed. The book reminded me particularly of Reboot by Amy Tintera. Of course, Legend was published before Reboot—but that cannot erase the fact that I feel as though I have read at least one variation of this story before. Even more minor, individual plot elements are predictable, but I will not go into details, for the sake of those who still have to read the book. Nothing was wrong with anything that happened, but finishing a novel when you know exactly where it is going can seem like a futile exercise.
The characters could still have saved he book and made it a more exciting ride. Lu writes the book from the alternating points of view of June and Day—and each character even gets a different color and style of font. (Note: Day’s font is a deep gold, and though I had no trouble with it and have seen no complaints of others, I can still imagine this being difficult for certain readers.) However, June and Day sounded rather indistinguishable, and both of their voices were bland. June, as someone trained for the military from a young age, has been conditioned to approach things factually, with little emotion. And the one pleasant surprise is the little details she observes, thrown right into her narration. Day has less of a reason to sound so detached, and, more confusingly, June repeatedly describes him as someone who is passionate with deep emotions. I wish his own voice would portray more of that side of him.
As to their romance: it was instalove. There is little more to say on that point. Perhaps they were falling in love with the idea of the forbidden, as much as with each other. I assume they stay a couple over the course of the series, but I actually think it would be fitting if they drifted apart after meeting other people. I would love to continue reading the series if I had any guarantee of that happening because it would be a unique twist YA and would feel very right to me (if not to any other readers).
In the end, I have to emphasize that Legend is not a bad book. There are just so many dystopians out right now that this one gets lost in the mix, and its plot is already looking cliché—even if the it is the one being copied by other dystopians. The writing is solid and Lu has some good material to work with. I think the series would be worth pursuing if 1) we see more character development and 2) we see more of the war between the Republic and the Colonies. That bit of backstory was actually the most interesting thing about the novel for me, and we see very little of it because June and Day are focused first and foremost on how their society is messing with their own lives. (Fair, since there are people out to kill them and all.) If these two can move on and look at the larger picture in their world, there might be space and material for Lu to work with to create more original sequels.