Legend by Marie Lu
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release date: November 29, 2011
Series: Legend #1
Source: Penguin Canada
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.
The Republic of Los Angeles, at war against the colonies, is controlling its civilians with an iron fist in a time burdened by plague and poverty. Day and June are on opposite spectrum of this harsh reality. He is a 15 years old boy, supposedly deceased 5 years ago, fighting for Justice and Freedom, helping the poor and oppressed as best he can, while living in the streets, which deserved him the title of most wanted criminal. She is part of the high society and a genius. Obtained a perfect score on her Trial (a test every 10 years old takes to be assigned their role in society) and graduated from University at age 15. She is the bright star of the Republic's Army and has strong confidence in her government. What happens though when the two of them collide?
Legend, Marie Lu’s debut novel, is breathtaking. Set in a very imaginative and crude dystopian world, Legend’s plot will sweep you off your feet and drag you in a harsh reality. The way Marie chose to narrate the story provides a much more intense experience for its reader. The POV alternates between Day and June, opposing the poor’s lifestyle to the privileged one, highlighting a stark contrast in opinion. I’d also like to point that the publisher took an extra step by printing the two POV with inks of different colors (brown for Day and black for June), a nice touch contributing to the narrator’s distinction.
Day is fighting to protect his family from the shadows, breaking into an hospital to steal plague remedy when his childhood house is marked for quarantine. He couldn’t know that his prank would be the spark igniting his downfall though. June will be dragged out of school by the death of a loved one and will end up working for the government, hired to hunt down Day. The plot is all about this hide and seek game between a criminal and a law enforcer and the face off will be a very emotional one. The twist and turns Lu plotted for us were often unexpected and shocking, leaving you with a strong urge to smack a character behind the head or throw the book across the room.
Day and June are both strong-minded and capable, the cultural shock of their meeting is simply delightful. I love them both to death and they were also surrounded by an equally awesome cast of secondary characters. Tess is lovely and Metias left a strong impression even though he is present only for a short part of the story.
The end was torture and I find it hard to describe because on one hand it seems the tension drags on forever, yet everything happens at a fast and furious pace. The consequences of the grand finale will be immense and I honestly can’t wait for this second round, full of promises.
Marie Lu delivered the work of a genius with Legend and I can only praise her ability to collide two cultures in an incredible dystopian showdown. Legend is definitely one of the best release of 2011 and I strongly urge you to get your hands on a copy. I read it within a couple of hours because it’s just impossible to stop reading once you start!
Artwork by Marie:
June on the left & Day on the right.