Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book review: LEGEND

Legend (Legend, #1) - Marie Lu
Genre: YA dystopian
Publisher: Penguin
Source: ARC from BEA '11
Legend @ Parental Book Reviews
Recommended for: all ages

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 si
nister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

The NUMBER ONE thing about dystopian novels, for me, is believability. It's the reason I loved Divergent and the reason I'm nixing Wither and Delirium, based on other trusted reviews. I have to believe that this future is plausible. And not in some slight, "absolute power corrupts absolutely!"-kind of way. Simp
ly put, Marie Lu created a futuristic scenario that seemed believable. Dystopians, though, don't always have to sell me something, and actually, I prefer it if they don't, or make me feel like I'm listening in on a lecture. So maybe it wasn't a symbolic criticism of communist totalitarianism, a la Brave New World, maybe it wasn't an attack on the education system's literacy issues like in Fahrenheit 451, and it wasn't...whatever The Giver was supposed to be. BUT...I can imagine a world like the one presented here, and what's more, I could watch the characters interact, run, fight, and learn with them as they unravel a network of secrets. This was my kind of novel.
And while Legend is one of a handful of dystopians centering aro
und a militaristic society, it was one I could believe. I loved Marie Lu's futuristic Los Angeles - perfectly gritty and captivating at the same time.

Know what else was believable about Legend? The characters. Marie Lu did a fabulous job alternating narratives between Day, the Republic's most wanted criminal, and June, a young military prodigy. Usually I like either a 3rd person narrative, or just one narrator in first-person format. Here, though, it worked fabulously. Both characters were interesting at BOTH times. And I liked how June was portrayed, in a way, like a product of the system, manipulated for so long. Yeah, she sits by while some seriously disturbing things happen around her, but what's more believable - immediately questioning the society you were brought up in and turning against it, or having to learn the truth the hard way?
Won't say that much on Day - I liked him, and I especially like the way Marie chose to portray him. He had spunk and a bit of an attitude, but he never crossed the line into 'bad boy land.' Thus, he was a character I could care about, root for, and follow.
I have to give a quick mention to the villains of Legend. Commander Jameson reminded me a great deal of Dr. Cable from Uglies. Such an evil you-know-what, but dynamic, nonetheless.
Unlike a lot of other readers, I don't require a lot ou
t of villains. I'm comfortable with them being evil-without-a-reason. I don't need to psych all the characters I read. They just need to keep my interest. Commander Jameson, while assuredly evil, was also dynamic and captivating. That's all I need in a good villain.

Legend, right at 300 pages, isn't a particularly long novel, but that's okay! One thing I like about Marie's writing style is her ability to say what needs to be said, quickly, and move on. Hey, not every novel needs to be Divergent-length. Just because it's short doesn't make it any less captivating, or any less skimpy on the details. Everything you need to know is answered, in some way, in the novel. Other things will probably be unearthed mor
e in the sequel, which I cannot wait to have!

So if you consider yourself, AT ALL, to be a fan of dystopian, and if you're like me and getting tired of novels that are ROMANCE-first, dystopian-second, definitely check out Legend!

Ahh, it feels so good to give out a 5-star rating again!

Legend @ Amazon
Marie Lu's website

US vs. UK/Aus cover. Which do you prefer?

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