Review: 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.
-Description from Goodreads
Wow. That's it, wow. I have been anticipating reading this since early 2011, and it took me quite a while to finally pick it up, but man was it worth it.
I look for a lot of things in a dystopian novel, especially character development and setting and Lu didn't skimp on either. The novel is divided into the viewpoints of both June and Day, and I'll admit that I was a bit biased in that I liked Day's perspective much more. June at times was a little bit tiring, and her role in her world came off as unrealistic. She's the only the only person to score a perfect 1500 on her Trial, a test that determines your fate, and she becomes a ranked member of the military at 15, and is ordering people older and more experienced than her around by the middle of the book.
The romance between Day and June also came off as a little forced, feeling at times like an arranged marriage and that they were putting on a show for the reader. This made sense when I skimmed the acknowledgement and Lu mentioned that someone had suggested to her that June should be a girl.
As for setting and worldbuilding, I thought it was good, but a little foggy at times. There are two extremes, the wealthy elite and the poorest of the poor, with no mention of the middle class. No mention of where people buy clothes, food, etc. aside from a side comment about a market in a poor sector. While a militaristic society is a possibility, I would have liked to see more people who earned their means other than a) stealing, or b) shooting people.
I did love the element of mystery; that there was something lurking behind the world that June so loved, and Lu played to it beautifully. Still, this leads to my biggest issue with the book: it felt like Lu was holding back. On setting, on violence, on plot, on everything. I felt at times like Lu wanted to include something, but didn't from some outside pressure. For example, there is a lot of people getting hit with the butts of rifles, and in one flashback Day is struck by a corrupt policeman with the handle of a knife. Sure, there was blood in the book, but for such a trigger-happy society I'm surprised more extreme cases of violence doesn't erupt due to even minor skirmishes.
The same goes for the mystery element: it went too fast, in the course of about a week in-book. Legend easily could have had another one hundred pages, maybe even more, and would have been perfect. My criticisms of this come not from dissatisfaction, I wanted to see more!
I loved Legend, and I'm glad that my wait was well worth it. I'm still sticking with the idea that Lu was holding back, and if she loosens up a bit for book number two, well, prepare for all hell to break loose in the best of ways.