Saturday, May 10, 2014

Legend by Marie Lu

by Marie Lu

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Genre: Dystopian fiction

Rating: 4.5

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.

I'm a huge fan of YA dystopia. There's something addictive about delving into troubled futuristic civilizations. Legend certainly doesn't disappoint. The Republic is separated by districts, where the differences between the very rich and poor are stark. The plague runs rampant through the poorer neighborhoods, and we are introduced to this world first through Day's eyes, as he witnesses his family's house being marked as plague-contaminated.

I found myself relating to both June and Day, who come from opposite sides of the Republic, yet have so much in common. Props to Lu for making her protagonists both three-dimensional and multicultural! No dystopian fiction is complete without romance, and the growing relationship between these leads is delicious. My favorite part of the book is a quiet scene where June and Day begin to reveal their feelings to each other. Yet there are complications. June finds herself drawn to Day, even though she suspects him of killing her brother. And Day, a wanted fugitive, has even more to lose ...

Ultimately this book is about the importance of family. June's brother is the only family she has. When Metias is killed, she is left with nothing but her need for revenge. Day's acts of sabotage against the Republic stems from his need to keep his own family safe. I loved the many flashbacks of both protagonists with their loved ones. Not only did they provide valuable backstory, they also illuminated the difficult journey June and Day had to travel to get where they are now. 

Action junkies, listen up! There's also fighting scenes galore, including a pivotal one in which June must come to Day's rescue. I found myself literally biting my nails as I read that chapter. Yow! June is a strong heroine in the tradition of Katniss from Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent. 

No dystopian is complete without a cliffhanger, and ultimately, this is where I felt the book was a little weak. Will I read the next book in the series, Prodigy? Yes, of course. I'm invested in the characters, and I want to see where their discoveries lead. But I don't feel the urge to get into my car and drive to Barnes and Noble right now to buy it, or download it immediately on my ipad. The momentum slowed a little too much for me at the end. 

Love dystopian fiction? Definitely pick up a copy of this book. It's well worth your time!

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