He is Day--the boy who walks in the light. She is June--the girl who seeks her brother's killer. On the run and undercover, they meet by chance. Irresistibly drawn together, neither knows the other's past. But Day murdered June's brother. And she has sworn to avenge his death.
As soon as I had finished reading The Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu I had made up my mind that I would read EACH AND EVERY book she has ever written because her writing is phenomenal and I look forward to more. I’d heard from a friend that Legend was pretty great as well, so I immediately picked it up once I had bought all the books in that series.
And though I did like Legend, though it is well-written…I am also just a little bit disappointed, perhaps because The Young Elites was so unique in terms of its premise and world-building, that Legend felt like just another Young Adult Dystopia™
Here’s a quick run-down of the things I loved and didn’t love:
From the very beginning Marie Lu has her readers hooked in as she begins the novel from Day’s perspective, a fifteen-year-old kid who allegedly turned to a life of crime after failing his Trials–a special, mandatory test designed to examine your capabilities and skills so the government can decide what you can do with your life. The opening scenes of any book is crucial, and in this book Marie Lu paints a very vivid picture of the world this book is set in, and with a character who is as intriguing as Day you can’t help but want to know more–and marvel at how a teenager can be so good at evading the government.
Well-developed, interesting, and heroic protagonists.
The other thing that I loved in this novel are our protagonists: Day and June. Though both of them are as different from each other as night and day (hahaha see what I did there? No? oh…okay) I loved how they complement each other because of their skills and intelligence. They are truly each other’s equal and make one hell of a team.
I also really enjoyed how distinct their voices are, and how similar events affected them both in dramatically different ways, how differently they both react in the same situation and how their personalities also developed uniquely throughout the novel.
Day is also without a doubt, one of my favorite fictional male characters. I loved his sense of humor even in the face of all the adversities life had thrown his way at such a young age, and I was particularly impressed by how intelligent he was–and also how humble he was about it. Too often I come across YA heroes who are handsome, talented, and intelligent and obnoxiously overconfident about themselves. Day was not like that. Sure, he knew what he was capable of, but instead of telling us readers, Day showed it within the first few pages of the novel.
The romance did not take the focus away from the story.
Truth be told, the first book did not really need any romance, but given the date during which this novel was published and the fact that until recently most YA novels always had romance no matter what genre the book belonged in (almost as if it was some sort of unspoken rule in some mythical Guide To Writing A Best-selling YA) I am not really surprised that we have a bit of a romance here. Thankfully, it was just that–just a bit of romance.
The world-building was good…but not good enough.
I think part of this is a result of how different our two protagonists are and the extremely different walks of life they come from–on one extreme there is June, who comes from an enviously wealthy and well-educated family and on the other extreme there is Day, who has lived all his life below the poverty line; it added to the world-building and showed several key elements of the setting such as the income inequality among the people of the Republic of America (sidenote: given the current political scenario in USA I can totally see this happening), the utter lack of political freedom and terrifyingly heavy military power, as well as socio-cultural norms and differences such as the differences in accents and terms of endearments/insults in different regions.
However, there was still so much vital information missing, information that I believe was also crucial to explaining how the USA split into two countries. In this sense, the world-building was lacking: there wasn’t enough history and it made it difficult to immerse myself in the world this book is set in because I couldn’t help but wonder how things came to be the way they were in the story.
The plot was too predictable…but fun to read nonetheless.
I won’t lie–I finished this book in two days because I had so much fun reading it that I did not want to put it down. Yet, after finishing the novel I just wasn’t satisfied, because the main premise of the book was so…common. The entire plot is predictable in the sense that there are probably thousands of books with this exact same story. There was nothing new here, even though the book did have potential for originality.
To put it in a nutshell: while Legend is certainly not the best dystopia out there, it is still worth reading if you are either new to the genre or if you are looking for a fun read.