Book Review: Legend, by Marie Lu
I recently had a squabble with a few other YA readers on AW about this book, so I felt the need to defend it here on my blog. The comment that sparked the criticism: “LOVED IT. Legend will appeal to fans of the Hunger Games.”
The criticism was that Legend is too similar to the Hunger Games, and shares in some of the same faults (that the main characters are lacking in emotional depth). I respectfully disagree. While the emotional insight into the characters isn’t terribly deep, I don’t view that as a sign of bad writing, so much as a style of writing. Hemmingway, for example, was very brief and didn’t get overly flowery or emotional. I like vivid description and emotional writing, but I also appreciate prose that is straight-forward, especially in a fast-paced book like Legend or the Hunger Games.
Whew! So, let’s get on to the meat, shall we?
Legend is set in Dystopian North America, in the area once known as Los Angeles. It is now home to the Republic, a military state that rules with an iron fist. The story opens from the point of view of 15-year-old Day, an infamous boy that has become a thorn in the Republic’s side. The only problem for the republic? They have no idea who he is or what he looks like. The book is told from two points of view, alternating in each chapter. The second chapter begins the story of June, a 15-year-old girl who is being groomed for a life of elite military service.
The two teens’ worlds collide after June’s brother (and, consequently, her parental figure) dies, and Day is pegged as the killer. June sets off on a quest to hunt Day down and avenge her brother’s death, and Day tries to avoid the Republic’s snares. The tension is kept up nicely throughout the work because you see the machinations and motivations behind each character and side (Republic vs. the poor & June vs. Day). What ensues is fast-paced action with a cat-and-mouse feel to it. Ultimately, the two teens discover a startling truth about what brought them together, and the lengths that their government will go to in order to keep the truth hidden.
Lu based Legend on Les Miserables. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for creative retellings of the classics. (In fact, my WIP is a loose retelling of a classic). June’s character was originally a guy, but Lu’s husband suggested that she write the character as a girl. After reading the book, I can honestly say that single piece of advice may have made the book. The story is great on its own, but it’s really the romantic tension that pulls the story along between the action.
Apparently the book has already been optioned for a movie, too. Look out Hunger Games, Legend just may be the next big thing! I look forward to reading the next installment in the series, due out next fall.
My Rating? 4 out of 5 stars