[Book Review] Legend by Marie Lu

Another dystopian novel for your consideration.  There were several things that attracted me to this book, the first being that it’s by an Asian author.  Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, but I haven’t come across a lot of those.  Being a writer myself, currently working on publishing an original work of my own, I was definitely intrigued.  The second thing that caught my attention was the cover.  In a way it’s simplistic, but there was something about it that drew me to it.

Legend by Marie Lu

Finally, was the summary.  I wish I had written down what was written on the book flaps, since I think the summary was different, but here’s one that I pulled from Amazon:

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.

It took me two attempts to get through this book.  Not because it was terrible, but because the first time I tried to read it, for some reason I hadn’t really been in the mood to read, and therefore didn’t have the patience to give it a proper reading.  The second time went much better.

This is a book that I think would probably appeal more to a younger audience, maybe around middle school-level.  Before I get into what I thought of the story, I want to mention that some of the font choice took some getting used to.  For some reason the author chose to make the color of the font for one of the narrators a gold while the other was in standard black, but I suppose I’m just grateful she didn’t decide to make the entire book written in color.  There’s a chance I may not have gotten through it at all, had that been the case.

My biggest complaint with the book was the romance between the main protagonists, Day and June.  By the end of the story it was more believable, but the way it started just seemed a little forced and random.  I had this discussion sometime ago with some fellow writers I’ve met on Twitter, and the consensus seems to be romance is perfectly fine in a story so long as it’s a natural development, which I didn’t feel was completely the case here.

I found the plot to be entertaining, and I can see why some have compared it to The Hunger Games, although the stories are completely different.  There’s criticism out there that Day and June are too similar, but I think they have enough differences to set them apart.  (I was reminded of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.)  I will agree with one review I read though, the two main characters are so “amazing” that they seem to sparkle and shine right off the page.  On the one hand, that’s the point, but on the other hand it does make the characters seem unrealistically perfect and invincible at times.

This book is meant to be the first in a trilogy, and I think it does end in a way where it has me curious enough to at least reach for the next book, but aside from bringing down “The Republic,” most of the other mysteries seem to have been solved already within this first installment.  Hopefully the second book has some more surprises though; I’m currently close to the top of the list on hold for the sequel, Prodigy, at my local library, so I’ll be finding out soon.

FINAL VERDICT: C+

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