30 October 2012

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, the Colonies.  

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy.  Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest circles. 

Born into the slums of the Republic's Lake Sector, 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.  Now, 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.
When Legend first popped up on my radar, I was turned away by the amateur-style cover.  I was intrigued, however, when the hype drove me to read a sample of it.  I was impressed by how there was an immediate sense of character and that allowed the also-immediate conflict to take effect.  Paired with Marie Lu's effortless writing style and propelled by a both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking plot, I never wanted the story to end.

Legend tells the story of two awesome main characters.  June, with her Holmesian-like logic but warm heart; and Day, the guy we girls would all like to run into on the streets.  I was pleased (and impressed) with how June, the government's prodigy, didn't come off as a cold-hearted anti-hero.  She had a heart -- a big heart -- that wasn't impervious to breaks.  The criminal Day reminded me a lot of Han from Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series, only Day doesn't have silver cuffs branded to his wrists. Mentally, I connected them because they're passionate, flirty, and street smart, and they always take care of their families.

The world of Legend was magnificently displayed.  Lu doesn't fall into the trap of having to explain how everything worlds.  By letting the world affect (or not affect) her characters in certain ways, she lets the world build seamlessly.  It's this showing and not telling that is so effective in creating the swaths of color into the world around the characters.  Sometimes it has a fantasy-like feel to it, and sometimes it feels more sci-fi or dystopian, giving it a well-rounded atmosphere.

What I was most impressed with from Legend was the way Lu built the story.  I understood what was at stake, I knew the risks, and I felt each obstacle resonate within the characters.  It was a story that built stakes like kindling for a fire -- they pushed the characters; they didn't come at a conveniently inconvenient time.  At every turn, I would mutter, "What are they going to do now?" or "How are they going to get out of that?"  The plot was tightly compacted: nothing was wasted, but there are threads to be continued in other books.

So while there were predictable places, it was the moments that took me by surprise that defined my liking for Legend.  With it's fantasy/sci-fi like world and lovable characters, Legend should be a book to get on your shelf.  I'm glad it's on mine.

I will hunt you down. I will scour the streets of Los Angeles for you. Search every street in the Republic if I have to. I will trick you and deceive you, lie, cheat and steal to find you, tempt you out of your hiding place, and chase you until you have nowhere else to run. I make you this promise: your life is mine. (p. 45)
“I don't know if anyone's ever told you this", he begins. He doesn't blush, and his eyes don't dart away. Instead I find myself starring into a pair of oceans - one perfect, the other blemished by that tiny ripple. "You're very attractive."

I've been complimented on my appearance before. But never in his tone of voice. Of all the things he's said, I don't know why this catches me off guard. But it startles me so much that without thinking I blurt out, "I could say the same about you." I pause. "In case you didn't know."

A slow grin spreads across his face. "Oh, trust me. I know.” (p. 137)
Book Info
  • pages - hardcover, 305
  • published - November 2011
  • publisher - Putnam Juvenile
  • genre - sci-fi
  • received via - Half-Price Books :)
  • rating - 5/5
  • series - Legend
    • Legend
    • Prodigy
    • Untitled #3