A Dystopian Legend Scores Highly
Legend by Marie Lu
A book review by Christopher Moore
The plot revolves around two characters: June, who works for the Republic and Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal. Metias, June’s brother, is murdered and Day is the prime suspect. Sworn to avenge him, June tracks down Day in an attempt to do what no other agent has done. The story is packed with action and suspense in equal parts with softer moments segued in, like June’s memories of her parents and Day’s moments with Tess, making just as strong of impression.
Lu delivers a masterclass in narration with her dual narrators – Day and June. For much of the novel, they’re separated so they show what we wouldn’t otherwise get to see if it were told by a single narrator. More than this, the perspectives are opposites offering different perceptions, beliefs and opinions: Day, a boy from the slums fighting for his family’s survival and June, a member of the Elite fighting for justice. June used to have everything she could want, while Day has to fight for his very survival. I feel that June is a more consistent, well-rounded narrator. Day often repeats words and has an over-reliance on terms like “goddy” that are sprinkled throughout the novel and seem to work against his character.
Within the novel there are a range of protagonists and antagonists with each and every character fully realized. Personally, I’m quite fond of Kaede. And the coldness of Commander Jameson, I think many readers will admit, is memorable and leaves a clear impression. June will appeal to both male and female audiences. She’s a strong heroine, capable of fighting and smart enough to be well ahead of her years in education.
Quality of Writing: 17/20
The writing quality is really high apart from repetitions. Each character has their own lexicon and Lu works twice as hard to differentiate her narrators’ voices. Lu has a beautiful way with words:
- “‘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.’” – Day
- “The memory fades, and I’m left hanging on to the ghosts of his.”- June
- “The boy who walks in the light.” – June
Lu’s technique of creating the setting of the trilogy is fantastic. She describes the various sectors with sharp detail, sliced into enticing, vivid scenes. The first book focuses on the Republic (in reality, L.A.) and builds up a clear, solid picture of how it looks and feels, and its parameters; the second, on the bigger picture – the Colonies and the Republic (the United States); and the final book looks at the world as whole. Most important is how Lu builds her world and develops through each of the sequels competently.
Comparative Literature: 10/10
I love Lu’s trilogy. The idea is more simple in comparison to other dystopian novels it competes with – Ally Condie’s Matched, Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games to name but a few. And yes, it is a simple idea but this book’s popularity lies in its execution. Matched becomes a bit so-so because the pace is slow and we almost don’t care about the heroine by the end of the book. Divergent, while an excellent debut lacks the narrative precision that Legend demonstrates. This book is certainly up there with The Hunger Games as one of the finest dystopian novels.
NOW, to Skip to the GOOD BIT:
- First-class world-building
- Dual narration that ratchets up the tension
- Secrets and betrayals that run deeper than either June or Day could possibly know
- Fully-realized, human characters
Overall Score: 92/100
Books You May Also Like:
Divergent by Veronica Roth – for a dystopian adventure, with a strong female protagonist, fighting for survival
Matched by Ally Condie – for a dystopian romance
Prodigy by Marie Lu – because after reading Legend, you’re going to want to dive straight in to the next installment
The Maze Runner – by James Dashner – for a thrill-a-page kind of read
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