By: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Dystopian
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours
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’s 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.
Legend is told through the alternating viewpoints of our two narrators: June and Day. June was born into a privileged family, got a perfect score on her Trial, and is set to become the military’s next star, though she does have a bit of a rebellious streak. Day is from the slums and is the nation’s most infamous criminal, living his life in secret and on the run. When June is sent to capture Day and their lives collide, secrets are revealed and they begin to question everything they thought they knew.
I love the dual narration; June and Day are excellent windows into the world that Marie Lu has created. Their voices are distinct and equally engaging, and I was never bored with either of their stories. I quickly became invested in both of their lives – their love and protection of their families, their struggles with their places in society, and their desire for justice. They’re both brave and intelligent and incredibly kickass, and I loved watching their relationship evolve as they met and got to know each other.
Lu’s writing pulls you into the world immediately, and with such a gritty and intense story this can be absolutely heartbreaking. June’s brother, for example. Even though I knew from the summary on the back of the book that he was going to die, it was still heart wrenching when it happened, and June’s few flashbacks throughout the novel only served to make me miss Metias more. Legend doesn’t shy away from violence and death, but it also has softer, more emotional moments, and the combination makes for a brilliant read.
One small issue that I did have with Legend was the incredible ease with which June and Day were both able to do everything. Their special skills and abilities seemed a bit too simple and perfect, and I would have liked them to need to try at least a little bit. While I could definitely relate to them emotionally, they felt somewhat superhuman otherwise, especially considering they’re both only fifteen years old, and there was no real explanation for why they were both so amazingly skilled.
Legend’s plot is pretty much the standard dystopian fare, but it’s done well and it is fast-paced and engrossing. The world is an intriguing one, although I would have liked more backstory explaining how the Republic and the Colonies came about. This is the first in a series though, so I’m hoping we’ll get more of those explanations in the sequels.
Admittedly, there are a ton of dystopian novels out there these days, but Legend is definitely not one to miss. Beautifully written and captivating, it will leave you waiting desperately for the sequel, wondering what’s next for June and Day.