Thursday, 10 May 2012

Book review: Legend by Marie Lu

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.

Legend by Marie Lu really had a lot going for it. I enjoyed it immensely and just love the world Lu has created. It is yet another Dystopian YA yet somehow this book seemed different, but I cannot quite understand why. It is similar to a lot of other YA books like The Hunger Games and Divergent but it also has touches of other things. Les Mis, Romeo and Juliet and especially Robin Hood come to mind.

The Main characters (Day and June) were awesome. The whole idea of this book and of these two characters is that they are super smart, the smartest people in what is left of America. It was nice to see two characters relying on their brain instead of luck, brawn or other people. I loved that they were multi-ethnic. Day is part Mongolian which was nice to see. Too many books focus solely on white characters.

The romance between them was nice, it was sudden but natural, not ‘I am suddenly in love with you and cannot bear to live without you’ like you see in so many other books. It wasn’t the most chemistry filled romance I have ever read, nor the most passionate, but it suited the tone of the book. Maybe there could have been a little more fizzle but for me the book wasn’t about that so I didn’t need anymore.

I loved the corrupt government in this book. They really are awful, violent and mean. Lu was spot on in creating a menacing dictatorship that is easy to hate. She doesn’t shy away from their brutality but shows it in a way that makes sure you understand how unjust this society is. She shows you not only the streets of the poor but the luxuries of the rich so you can compare the two and see how unfair things are for yourself.

The only problem with the government and the setup is that I am not sure how things ended up the way they did. There is very little history given or explanations about how America was almost destroyed or why the government is fighting a civil war.

Another problem I had was with the ages of the main characters. Both June and Day are 15 years old. I cannot think of a moment in the book where either of them do something, or say something that makes them seem any younger than 17/18.If the Author didn’t keep reminding me that they were 15 I would have just thought of them as older. (In fact I still did, in my head they were 17/18 the whole way through.) It seemed silly to have these characters that look, act, talk and walk like 17 year olds but make them 15.To me there is a massive difference between a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old. I just thought it would have been easier to make them older so that the Author wouldn’t have to keep reminding the reader that they were young.

I also think that maybe June and Day’s voices were a little too similar. There was not that much difference between them, they sounded the same and at times it was distracting. I think it was an effort from the Author to show that they are literally the only two people like them in the country, but it come off as to samey.

Other than that it was a quick and enjoyable read and I cannot wait for the second one to come out.

4 stars

Published November 29th 2011 by Putnam Juvenile.  A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads

Review by Kate Phillips

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