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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Legend

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Legend

Legend, Book 1

Author: Marie Lu
Pages: 305
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Source: Own

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "My mother thinks I'm dead."

A year or so ago, I changed my book-buying policy and bought two debuts I'd never read based on the incredibly positive reviews: Divergent by Veronica Roth and Legend by Marie Lu. Well, the former turned out to be an immense disappointment, one I disliked to the degree I resent my past self for having wasted hard-earned money on it. Thankfully, I do not need to invent time travel and break the time-space continuum by going back in time and killing my impulsive, past self, because Legend actually turned out to be good.

Marie Lu's debut is jam-packed with action. Where the derring-do in Divergent comes across as over-the-top and done merely because of how cool it sounds, the action scenes in Legend belong. Both Day and June commit seemingly impossible acts all of the time, but they also have the experience and the injuries to show for it. They do not come by their skills easily; they work for everything they earn, despite being prodigies.

Everyone who reviews this book gushes about Day, and, much as I like to feel unique, I cannot help but do the same thing. Day's chapters were my favorites all the way through. He's just such a noble criminal, and he reads very much like a boy. My love for Day is also inextricably bound up in the beauty of the formatting for his chapters. Day's sections are printed in a golden font, which might prove difficult to some readers, but which I love wholeheartedly. Also, and this is a bit of an odd criticism, but I think it's cool how June's chapters have a practical black font, and Days' are more ornate and unique, to represent their upbringings.

June is a tougher character to like, as she's meant to be. Where Day is the rebel with a heart (and font) of gold, June works for the evil dystopian government, and is rising quickly through the ranks. June believes wholeheartedly in what she's doing, and is determined to prove herself by catching Day, the killer of her brother. June grows as a character throughout, becoming someone you continually root for to make good decisions.

With slews of books coming out marketed as dystopians that really are not, I will have you all know that Legend truly is. The dystopian elements work quite well, though they are not all that unique. Having read so many of them, I recognized the various twists from other works and was not caught off  guard by any of them. Many readers will likely not have so much knowledge of the genre, though. Nor did my knowledge of where the book was heading impact my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest.

I do agree with a criticism I've seen around and about that Day and June both read too old. According to the novel, they are both fifteen. They are prodigies and I get that, but they should still be in puberty, and I'm really supposed to buy that they're the most powerful people in all of the Republic? I get that they're prodigies, but how are there no adults that can even begin to give them a run for their money? Every time the text mentioned them being fifteen, it would throw me out of the story because it just seemed off. The novel might make a bit more sense with 17-18 year old main characters.

Legend has well-written action scenes, solid world building, and convincing dual perspectives. I am so glad I have a copy of Prodigy ready to start soon, because I do not want to wait to learn what will happen to the characters next!

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.'"

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Blogger Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

I have gone back and forth on this book so many times.

When I read Heist Society I had the same feelings about Kat being 15. Nothing about her being 15 makes sense to me, she should be 17. I realize that 2 years doesn't seem like a lot, but there is a world of difference between 15 & 17. So I just pretend she's 17 cause it makes me feel better.

When I get around to this one I'll do the same thing.

February 21, 2013 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

I just got my copy of Legend in the mail from Jenni today, and I plan on starting it soon. As soon as I saw your review pop up, I was like, "Uh oh..." I anticipated you hating it, so I'm really happy you didn't.

As I read more and more YA, I get more and more annoyed with the protagonists' ages. More often than not, the MC will read way older than they're supposed to be. Like you said, even if they are gifted in some way, they are still going to be going through the same things any other 15 year old goes through - mainly hormonal changes that turn teens into raging idiots. A lot of the time, I wish that the MC was just older, but I wouldn't mind if an author wrote about a 15 year old and made them actually sounds like a 15 year old.

February 21, 2013 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Bellas Shelf said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 21, 2013 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Bellas Shelf said...

**Sorry about the delete**
I recently finished Wither & Fever by Lauren Destefano. I enjoyed both books immensely. I have to say I enjoyed Fever more. Which is odd considering many do not like book 2's in a series.
I am finding more and more dystopian books I read I put down and come back to later or never again. Wither was one. I began reading when it came out and was a tad bored by it. I re read and enjoyed it a lot more. IDK what changed my mind.
Legend is a book like that for me. I began reading it and got bored and put it away. I think I have to be in the mood for a book like that. Sometimes I need light hearted reads and others I can sit and focus on a heavier topic.
I liked that you wrote Legend is a true dystopian. I am going to go back to it. I want to read it. I feel I will enjoy it a lot more now.
I agree what you said about The Prey btw, it did start out and continue at a sloow pace. I thought I was the only one. lolz.
Thanks for the review. Have a great night :)

February 21, 2013 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Tez Miller said...

"slews of books coming out marketed as dystopians that really are not"

That so irks me! Hate when things are marketed as dystopian, sci-fi, or steampunk, when really they're just paranormal with some token bits of what they claim to be.

February 21, 2013 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Glad this panned out for you-I also liked it more than Divergent finding June and Day to be very compelling leads. I love brilliant MCs!

February 22, 2013 at 12:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You make me have lots of regret! I picked this up in the library and didn't have too much motivation to read it so my time ran out and I put it back. Now I have to go get it again :) While there's the issue with ages, the characters sound great as does the whole entertainment with the novel. Love the review!

Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

February 22, 2013 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I would recommend that. It wouldn't be so bad if you weren't reminded of their ages several times a book, but oh well. Other than that, these are a pretty solid read.

February 22, 2013 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, do I amaze you? I was really afraid I would hate it too, but I didn't. Yay! Best book ever, no, but it was a lot of fun. I raced through.

Yeah, that's something I've been trying to note in reviews more often: when the character actually reads like a teen. I forget a lot of the time and automatically make them my age, especially in ones that don't take place in school setting. In fantasy, sci fi, and dystopian, it's so easy to just make them older, because the maturity level and focus seems to indicate they're in their early 20s, not teens.

I do wish there were more legit books with heroines my age. I feel like most of them are romance novels/chick lit or about married people, so it's completely not my life.

February 22, 2013 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Now I don't feel so bad about buying this twice! Even though there are people suffereing in Africa *ugh* Curse you YouTube commenters!!

Anyway this sounds really good. I didn't know that the fonts were different between perspectives in the first one! So cool. That characters sound great and I think I will really enjoy the plot too. Fantabulous review hot stuff!

February 22, 2013 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I like Wither well enough, but I really did not like Fever. I sort of liked it initially, but when I thought about what the book stood for, it made me really mad. Basically, I feel like DeStefano is holding up virginity as this super important thing, and it makes no sense in the society she's created and the life she's given her heroine.

Hmmm, well, I suppose it's worth another try, but it could just not be for you. Sometimes writing style can grate on one person and not another.

Ugh, The Prey. Eesh.

February 22, 2013 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I know. I get so excited and then it's like JUST KIDDING.

February 22, 2013 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, no regret necessary. I do that ALL the time. I like to think of myself as being very good for library circulation stats. You're just helping keep the book from being weeded!

February 22, 2013 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Wow, YouTube commenters need to chill the fuck out. You gave the extra as a gift, so what's the big deal. I hope YouTube commenter doesn't buy anything unnecessary to life and sends all extra money to Africa. I just bet.

Yes. AND IN COLOR. Is it sad that I love that?

February 22, 2013 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Brilliant MCs are totally my favorites, if only these were more age appropriate on their emotional and physical sides. Sigh!

February 22, 2013 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Renae @ Respiring Thoughts said...

Dang it! I ALMOST bought this last time I was in the store but I figured it would be a lame dystopian and I wouldn’t like it. (Well, obviously I still don’t know if I’ll like it or not, but I’m more hopeful now.) Day and June both sound like great protagonists who are heroes without being unrealistic or flat. Awkward that they’re “too old” for their roles, though. That would probably bother me, too.

And wazzah for anti-Divergent sentiment!

February 22, 2013 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

They're pretty great protags, minus the age thing. Their perspectives would be too similar without the font to clue you in, but, as is, it's a very easy read.

WAZZAH! *throws Divergent off a train*

February 22, 2013 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

OK THANK YOU. The age thing really got me too but I never said anything in my review because I thought "Well maybe life is just DIFFERENT." I mean I think teenagers present day and past have changed and are different. Sometimes acting more adult-like -- like maybe during the Depression when it was necessary to have responsibilities or like back in the day when pretty much you were married off and with child at like age 15. But I so thought that. In my review I also mentioned how similar their voices were as well. Those were the only things that bothered me honestly.

But other than that I freaking LOVED this book. They are great characters and the tense cat and mouse game just hooked me waiting until the moment they'd figure it out. Plus the world was really interesting to me!

Totally agree with this review!

February 23, 2013 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

If life is that different for all teenagers, I feel like that would need to be set up in the text somewhere. I mean, I get that they're all doing a lot of training and whatever, but shouldn't there be a difference between a fifteen year-old's abilities and those of someone at their physical peak? The body does what the body does.

I agree. It was SUCH a fun read. :)

February 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Vivien said...

I really liked this one. A great start to the series. I have SO many questions that need answered. I'm definitely going to be reading the rest!

March 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Prodigy's even better!

March 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM  

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