Sunday 8 January 2012

Review: Legend By Marie Lu

Set in a dystopian future, in a Los Angeles that is at war, plague-ridden and divided, Legend is told from two perspectives: that of Day, a Robin Hood-like fugitive trying to protect those he loves, and June, a Government golden girl bent on avenging her lost brother. They're both strong characters, but while Day is easy to like, June took a while to warm to. It was so obvious the Republic was evil, and yet she was on their side for much of the book, making it hard to sympathise with her. Of course, she's a privileged teen who has been brought up to believe in her Government, so it's natural for her to have that viewpoint, but then again, she's supposed to be a freaking prodigy, so it was extremely frustrating that she took so long to figure things out - and even then, she couldn't do it on her own. It was a bit unbelievable and made it hard to really get behind her.

Day, on the other hand, was the underdog from the start - and who can resist the underdog?! Not June, that's for sure. Their romance was inevitable, but perhaps because I didn't particularly like June, I didn't really feel any chemistry between them. I could see why they were a good fit for each other, but I just wasn't aching for them to get together. It was also difficult to believe that both Day and June were 15. Even taking into account all they've been through, they didn't really feel like 15-year-olds at all. I know it's YA, but I don't get why they need to be SO young - you could make the characters 18 and it wouldn't make any difference. If anything, it would make it feel slightly more authentic.

The story itself was good and fast-paced, and I was glad to see that it was quite different from The Hunger Games (the only other YA dystopian I've read), but unfortunately it was pretty predictable. On the plus side, Lu's world-building was strong, and although I would have liked a bit more detail about the history of the Republic, it did feel like a realistic (if terrifying) possibility. Lu's writing was smooth and it's a credit to her that, after just reading a book written in the present tense and not enjoying the style, I didn't even notice until I was near the end of Legend that it, too, was written in the present tense. It was so effective and fluid I didn't consciously register it or feel put off at all.

One little niggle I have to express - and it's not with Legend in particular, but with what seems to be most YA books these days - is that the story isn't contained within one book. It's not that I don't like series, because I do, but I still feel that within a series, each book should tell a complete story even if there's a larger story arc. Legend did do this to some degree, but there were a few threads left hanging that irked me a bit. If it wasn't a consistent thing across many series, it probably wouldn't have bothered me at all. As it is, it just made me roll my eyes. All in all, Legend was a good book that didn't quite blow me away.

Rating: 3.5/5

Eye Candy
Day is described as Caucasian/Mongolian, with white-blonde, long hair, piercing blue eyes and a beautiful face. He was tough to "cast", but I imagined him as Jamie Campbell Bower:

June is athletic, with dark hair and black-gold eyes (side note: have you ever met anyone with black eyes? I don't think I have. They seem to crop up a bit in fiction). I pictured Nina Dobrev (June totally wears a pretty white gown in the book, so I thought this pic was appropriate):

Fine Print
Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult
Published: December 2011, Razorbill
Get It: Book Depository


  1. Present tense is not my favorite style, but I expect it in contemporary and dsytopian novels.

    Bum deal about TSPOLAFS not really meeting your expectations, but I'm glad to know that with Legend, that is that departure from THG. Sounds like something to look forward to.

  2. I've just started reading Legend and I feel the same way. I think it's really dangerous writing in the perspective of a child prodigy and not portraying them as being smart enough. The age thing kinda bugs me as well but on the other hand, it would probably drive me even crazier to read the conversations of real 15 year olds!

  3. I am not a big fan of dystopians.. but your review, has made me think of trying the book out.

    and I totally agree with you about series!

  4. @Missie, I think it's trickier to get it right and if it's not done well it's quite off-putting for me. :-)

    @Lan, you are so right. Can't wait to see what you think!

    @KThomas, it's an easy dystopian to read, but have you read the hunger games? If not I'd go for that over legend. :-)

  5. Hey! I finished Beauty Queens this morning and just started Legend! Purposely not reading your review until I'm finished with the actual book... but I'll be back :)

  6. Fair enough - I'd love to know what you think, Katie!

  7. I just finished Legend last night and I thought it was FANTASTIC! There were definitely holes in the plot that I'll talk about in my review, but I read the whole thing over the course of about 24 hours. I wasn't a huge fan of the book I read right before Legend, so it just felt good to get consumed by a story again. Do you know if there's going to be a sequel? I'd be just as happy if there weren't, but it seems like a possibility...

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Katie! I believe it's part of a trilogy. And apparently it's also being made into a movie by one of Twilight's producers.

  8. Aw, I LOVED Legend, but I see what you're saying. They're really only supposed to be 15?? Gah, no, they didn't feel that young. I agree with you, why didn't the author make them 18 instead? I can't see a 15 year old doing everything they did. I guess I didn't notice when I read it because I'm always mentally aging characters so I don't feel as weird when I swoon over the guys :P

    Which brings me to Day. Oh SWOON! I loved him. Like you, I had a harder time with June, but I think that was because she's so closed off. They didn't have sizzling chemistry, but I was ok with it (probably because I just wanted to see SOMEONE get to kiss Day!)

    1. Haha, I do that too, made all the more easier by the fact that Hollywood makes 15-year-olds look about 30 anyway. I guess it's best to think, they're not REAL 15, they're fantasy 15 hehe.

      Day was a pretty cool character. I read that Lu has had him in her mind for years and she was just waiting for the right story. And June was originally a boy!

  9. Hm I have heard mixed reviews on this so sorry you didn't really fall in love with as much! I have been looking forward to reading this one though.