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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

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' 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.

 In the recent mass of YA dystopias, there seem to be very few focused mainly on science fiction. I can think of a couple, including Under the Never Sky , but very few are centered around science fiction. Marie Lu's debut is very focused on action and science fiction. It's no surprise that the novel has been optioned for a film; as I read it, I kept thinking, This would make a great movie 

Legend takes place in futuristic California, where the US has been separated into two groups: the Colonies and the Republic, which are constantly warring with one another. June has been groomed into high society her entire life after getting a perfect score on her Trial (a test designed to test children's abilities for future careers and schooling). When her beloved brother is murdered, she decides to hunt down his assassin, the strangely evasive Day. Day has lived his life on the run, teaming up with his friend Tess, and constantly trying to find ways to save his family from the plague passing through the poor slums where they live. When the two meet up, a "game of cat and mouse begins" (quoted from the blurb). 

The book is essentially an action paced thrill ride with dashes of science fiction. And as I mentioned before, it would make a great movie. The plot twists and turns, and the ending bombshell is pretty shocking. I also enjoyed how the romanced didn't take a key part of the book, but was rather slow developed and As I read, it was hard not to keep on my seat and continueflipping the pages. However, I will acknowledge that the plot was not perfect. It was far, far from perfect. World building is hard. It's hard for writers of any genre, whether it be contemporary fiction or fantasy; you need to distinguish your world and make it believable and understandable. I know I have linked this in my reviews before, but this is a great resource on world building and why it is necessary: As my friend pointed out in this post, world building helps readers understand your world and see it inside their minds. But the truth is there really is no world building in Legend. It was hard for me to picture the world. I got the gist of things -- what the Trials were, what the country was like -- but it was hard to picture. I wanted more details, I wanted more explanation, I wanted more. The other issue I had with the plot is that at times it seemed like the plot was sacrificed towards having more action. Some scenes seemed rushed in favor of the action when they could have been extended and brought out longer. 

As for the characters, I think Lu's strengths lie with her characters. She made me feel for both June and Day, making me feel sorry and excited for them even as I was frustrated with their actions. I related to both the entire time, which is a difficult feat, especially when they both hate each other for good reasons. Both June and Day had distinct voices that sounded like the female and male genders respectively, and though I hated Day's yellow font (so hard to read!) they were very different from each other. Some of the characters were one dimensional, specifically in the cases of Commander Jameson and Chian, but I think that they may have been one-dimensional in that way to make us despise them. I enjoyed all the characters (except for the ones I disliked) and they made up the strongest parts of the novel. 

The writing was good, and just like the plot: quick, fast paced, and fluid. Lu's writing was easy to read and interesting. Lu certainly proved herself to be a strong debut author, with rave reviews and stars all around. I'll be reading the sequel, despite my concerns; I am curious about what happens next in this series. 

I would reccommend this book to fans of action, adventure, and romance, and I expect Legend to be on the big screen at some point in the next few years. 

Four stars.

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