Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Publication Date: November 29th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 305 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
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.

Dystopian books are not created equal. A major element of the story hinges on having a believable, drastically changed world and a conflict depicting the what if scenarios of the present into a futuristic nightmare. Legend’s setting was thoroughly convincing. It’s a world set in a future with a military government hell bent on ruling with an iron fist. The segregation of societies was also prominent. This book could’ve been easily a five star rating; after all, I’m a big fan of dystopian books. The thing is, at 305 pages, I had a hard time enjoying this book fully. Perhaps it’s because this is the initial offering to the series but being plagued with questions deter me from having the full dystopian experience. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if I’m just too impatient for a resolution. I say it’s a combination of both. But I’m distracted by the fact that I felt sort of cheated.

Regardless, this book is an amazing start to a great series. Day and June proved to be a pair of strong characters whose source of prowess was their intelligence more than anything. Don’t get me wrong, they showed great physical and combat talents as well. But I was more in awe of their smarts than June’s ability to scale a fourteen-story building in six minutes or Day’s relentless and natural gift of overcoming an entire platoon without killing a single soldier.

The most amazing thing about this book is the disparity about the characters’ political opinions. There are always two opposing sides and Ms. Lu was very successful in showing light to both. Day’s reasons for rebelling were told through one incident of military oppression to the next and June’s were mostly through a second-hand account via her principled brother. I have to say that pinning them against the other was the major draw of this book for me and the fact that Day was sort of a futuristic version of a Robin Hood.

Don’t be fooled by the full of romance blurb. I had a difficult time focusing on anything but the exhausting suspense and harsh violence in this book. In my opinion, their romance barely started and so the anticipation for the instalment exponentially doubled. I really hope that some if not most of the questions will be answered in the next book – questions that I can’t really voice out because some of them will possibly spoil the book. Let me just say that Legend has the makings of a fantastic dystopian read with remarkable characters that in my opinion, will be as legendary as Peeta and Katniss.