Legend by Marie Lu: Book Review

LEGEND by Marie Lu Book Review
Series: Legend, #1
Publication Date: November 29th 2011 by Putnam Juvenile
Rating: |

Summary: 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 Book Review Overview:

  • Believable premise and fantastic world-building
  • Didn’t like the emphasis on romance between Day and June; felt like insta-love
  • Definitely one of the better dystopians in an oversaturated market

In the future, the United States exists only as a myth. There’s a war ravaging two countries: the Republic, which is comprised of what had been the Western United States, and the Colonies. In the Republic, Day, a fifteen-year-old criminal, is on the loose causing havoc for the government and simultaneously helping his family and his poverty-stricken neighbors in the Lake district. In a richer part of town, June is the prodigy – the only one who scored perfect marks in the Republic’s Trials who also can’t help but rebel by playing pranks. What happens when the paths of these two collide? You get Marie Lu’s epic debut novel, LEGEND.

My biggest qualm with this book is the emphasis on the romance between Day and June. I usually do find the appeal between star-crossed lovers, but I honestly felt that there was no chemistry or sexual tension between the two of them. Yeah, they totally had the hots for each other. But just because you find someone attractive, it doesn’t mean you’re suddenly falling in love with them. I would have liked it so much more if Day and June remained friends. They have this understanding about one another and I can definitely sense some camaraderie (if you look past their initial misconceptions, of course). They both respect each other in a way, and despite the differences in their upbringing, they have been both seriously screwed over by the Republic. Is this just a shout out that guys and girls can’t just be friends?

But other than the romance, I really failed to pick out any other problems with LEGEND. However, unlike many other bloggers out there, it just failed to captivate me. The story was good, and the world-building was quite great. I can definitely picture this happening in the future (which is a scary thought). As someone who’s been to Los Angeles only once or twice, it was hard for me to picture if remnants of the city I had visited still exists in Lu’s novel. However, the concept is still quite believable. A civil war set in the future is definitely possible, and the thought of it brings up a million questions buzzing in my head. Lu gives us a glimpse of what could have happened, but fails to give us the entire picture in the first book. She answers just enough questions to get my curiousity piqued, but doesn’t answer them all to make me want to read the next book in the series.

Both protagonists were quite likeable in LEGEND. The book is written in Day and June’s alternating point of views. I do like how June’s character grows so much in this one book alone. At first, she is a rebellious, privileged rich kid but as she learns how the other half lives, she empathizes for the people who did not grow up with all the things she had. I love how June is so fierce. She can protect herself and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in no matter what the risks are. On the other hand, I love Day because, like June, he is also fiercely loyal to his family. He isn’t a criminal for the sake of causing havoc. He reminds me of a futuristic Robin Hood who steals from the rich and gives back to the poor. And who doesn’t love to cheer for the underdog? But if I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Metias. Okay, June and Day are quite clever, but Metias is by far superior. He can hack into the government systems. He’s a kick-ass soldier, but also an overprotective older brother.

This book has a legit beginning, middle, and an end, but with enough development to make it a solid first book of a new series. I absolutely hate books that have all development but nothing ever happens. I’m glad to say that LEGEND does not follow this formula. I feel like I’ve actually started and finished a book.

LEGEND is a wonderful debut by author Marie Lu. I thought the romance was a bit unnecessary and I wish that the characters just stuck to friendship. While there was great world-buildling, the novel just lacked that extra oompf to really get me hooked on every page. However, LEGEND truly shines in a YA market that is saturated with dystopians. I strongly recommend this book over others to those who are fans of The Hunger Games series.

Final Verdict: The book is quite cool, so if you like dystopians buy it. The alternating perspectives are printed in two different font colors: black for June’s chapters and gold for Day’s chapters.

Why I’m Biased: This book is way hyped up in the book blogosphere and just about any other book publication out there. I can see why it’s hype-worthy but I’m not jumping on the bandwagon completely.

Other Reviews:
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About the Author

Marie Lu writes young adult novels, and has a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, she was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, she was an Art Director at a video game company where she enjoyed discussing Facebook game apps with her co-workers, hearing amusing insider stories about World of Warcraft bugs, and delighting in cute 3D renditions of buildings–all via Skype. Now she shuffles around at home and talks to herself a lot.

Find the Author

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