Marie Lu's 'Legend': A Review
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Over the last few months, I’ve been focusing on books and such from the horror genre. While it is my favorite, all the excitement that has been building over the release of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ has reawakened my fascination for stories based around dystopian cities. Having been spoiled by The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner it was incredibly difficult to find a novel that I could get excited about. I turned down a lot of blah sounding titles, until I came across ‘Legend’. While the book’s description makes the story sound a little too political for my taste, my instinct told me to read the story anyway. My gut instinct isn’t always reliable, so I don’t always listen to it. But this time, I’m glad that I swallowed my pride and gave in.
A harsh new civilization that once was the United States of America is being ripped apart by a budding war between the Republic and the Colonies. The new Republic ‘government’ is seeking sole control over the country, while rebel forces; stationed in various colonies around the map, fight to return the power to the people. A young rebel by the name of Daniel Wing is one such fighter. Having faked his death in order to protect his family from the backlash and shame of his crimes, he goes under the alias of Day in order to continue sabotaging the Republic. Fortunately, Day is not alone. His trusty ally, Tess, has more than Day’s best interests in mind.
On the other side of the coin is June, a 15-year-old Republican prodigy that is being groomed to be the Republic’s latest military general. Excelling in all her classes and miles above her peers, she feels confident that a future inside the Republic is certain. One day her world is turned upside down when her beloved brother is found dead. Now orphaned, the Republic has decided to start her with a job inside the military. Her first take, finding the elusive rebel called Day, whom she believes to be her brother’s killer.
Vowing revenge for the death of her brother, she goes undercover, infiltrating the rebel defenses only to find she's easily taken by the charisma of one special young man. As her feelings grow, she is torn by the realization that her young suitor is none other than the notorious Day himself. Devastated by having to choose between her mission and her heart, June launches a different type of investigation and concludes that Day is innocent. Regardless of this break through, the Republic has her tailed, and Day is taken into custody with an execution day already set. Now it is up to June to not only find out who the real murderer is and rescue Day before it is too late.
First and foremost, I was really impressed with Lu’s characterization skills. June, Day and Tess become more human as I dove into the story. I can truly appreciate the way each character jumps to life in his or her special way. Be it Day’s determination and devotion to his family, June’s defiant nature, or even Tess’ insecurity and secret desire to be loved, we can all find something about a character that can be identified with. Solid characters are the backbone to any good story, and having such life like characters earns Lu much of my respect.
The reviews for Legend are really a mixed bag, but regardless, I’m anxious to get my hands on the next entry into the trilogy. I’m not sure exactly what everyone’s problem with the book is, but I’m certainly glad that I took a chance and made a decision for myself. I commend Lu for not only being one of the youngest writers to be published, but for writing a completely engrossing debut novel. I’m expecting great things from Lu in the very near future.
I’m awarding Legend a very respectable four stars. The realistic characters and the fluidity of her writing really stand strong. However, the predictability of the plot causes the story in its entirety to fall just a little short. I had the real murder culprit pegged right from the get go. I also think it was a given that Day and June would develop feelings for each other. Yes, the murder is important, but there needed to be just a little more at stake. What an ironic twist to have June fall for the boy she is hunting, and then have to decide between her prestigious career or her heart. I only wish that these plot surprises had been a little more… well, surprising.