Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Dystopian, YA/Teen
Rating: 3 out of 5
Set in a future Los Angeles, Legend tells the story of June, a fifteen year old military prodigy in the Republic. June is the only person to have ever scored perfectly on her exams, and though she’s a bit of a troublemaker, she can get away with it because of her intelligence. That is, until the day June’s brother is murdered by a vicious criminal known as Day. June is recruited into her brother’s unit after his death, and swears to avenge his murder, but what she doesn’t realize is that things are more complicated than they seem.
Legend is a dystopian novel in the vein of The Hunger Games and Divergent – a teenage girl who is forced to make difficult choices as she realizes that the world around her isn’t what it seems to be. June is a genius by the standards of her world; she’s aced every exam they’ve thrown at her, and despite the fact that she’s ruffled a few feathers, she’s a good Republic girl. June is difficult to understand at times, especially when it comes to her brother’s death. While she says she is devastated by his death and vows revenge, she doesn’t seem all that saddened by his passing. It seems like something that should consume her, and yet, after her brother’s death, the character only thinks of her brother when it’s convenient.
Day is an intriguing character, and I appreciated the stylistic details surrounding his narration in the book. His sections were set apart from June’s by the use of gold text and a different, bold font. He was really an intriguing character, and I’ll admit he interested me much more than June. He had been living on his own for a very long time, taking care of himself and trying to care for his family. He’s a complicated boy, though at times his acrobatic feats are difficult to believe. I appreciated how far he was willing to go to help his family; the depth of emotion he feels for them is clear.
The worldbuilding in Legend is sketchy, and it’s difficult to tell how the world we know becomes the one depicted in this book. There are references to land wars, but the entire premise is vague. It seems as through Lu did this on purpose; the people living in this world have no idea what life was once like in the United States. Presumably the history will be fleshed out more in a sequel. Since the lack of worldbuilding fit with the storyline, it wasn’t too unsatisfying.
Unfortunately, in the end, I didn’t feel like Legend really had enough to set it apart from the other YA dystopian novels out there. I had trouble connecting with the main character and the storyline was very predictable. Additionally, the fact that young teenagers would be given this type of prominence was difficult to believe. While the setup was interesting enough to make me consider reading the sequel, unless your appetite for dystopian YA is insatiable, I’d recommend checking out some of the other offerings in the genre before this one.