Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review of Legend by Marie Lu

What happens when a video game designer tries her hand at young-adult novels?  Only good things, my friends.

Despite having a  good rating on Goodreads, I hadn’t heard much about Legend.  Legend managed to get lost among so many other books in the dystopian star-crossed-lovers genre, despite being the best of that genre I have read this year.  Legend alternates between the voices of June, a military prodigy from a high ranking family in the Republic (comprised of the western half of the old United States, which split from the Colonies after the flooding of the majority of the eastern seaboard; let this be a lesson to us on environmentalism and the importance of preserving the ice caps!) and Day, the Republic’s most notorious outlaw who is endeavoring to save his younger brother from the disease that plagues the poor (envision Robin Hood).  

The first thing I noticed, and the only less than sparkling thing I will say about this book is that the voices of June and Day sounded the same to me.  The format of the book alternates between Day’s and June’s points of view (also alternative fonts and colors, to help delineate the two voices).  Maybe it’s because they’re both military geniuses and first rate strategists and therefore their thoughts sound very similar?  Regardless, I often found myself hesitating, trying to remember why June knew certain information, only to realize I had transitioned back into Day’s perspective.

The lives of these two brilliant youth cross after June’s brother, and only living relative, is murdered and Day is framed for the crime.  June is put on the case to track down Day and bring him to personal and political justice, but while undercover she discovers a governmental conspiracy that puts her loyalty to question.

Conspiracy Theories 
There were a couple of things that set Legend apart from other books in this very popular genre:
  • The characters are non-white (woo hoo diversity!)
  • June is as skilled, talented, and kick ass (probably more so) than Day, and Day is secure enough to acknowledge and admire it (woo hoo strong female characters and men who are feminists!)
  • I thought I knew what the climactic action was going to be and then Marie Lu covered so much ground, heightened the stakes so much more than I had anticipated (woo hoo fast moving plot that doesn’t neglect character insights and thought process!)
  • Characters have bigger fish to fry than sorting out their love lives.  Not that I’d call this book true to life (it’s dystopian after all) but I like books that recognize characters have more things going on than an all-consuming love for another character. We’ve got families, we’ve got jobs, we’ve got government cover-ups to worry about, you know?

And it doesn’t hurt that I imagine Day looking like this:


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