Legend by Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication date: November 29th 2011
My rating: 4.5 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.
Legend is set in a futuristic Los Angeles, part of the Western states that is now at war with “the colonies” or the Eastern states of what was formally the United States. This world has been ravaged by climatic disasters and plagues. This world is one of rigid social classes and brutality.
Fifteen year-old, June and Day come from very different worlds; June is the darling prodigy of the Republic and part of the elite that live in Los Angeles. Day is The Republic’s most wanted criminal. This doesn’t stop June from admiring the antics and stunts pulled by Day as statements against the Republic’s rule. He’s sort of the people’s hero, and June wants to be just as good so she can catch him when she becomes one of the elite guards of the Republic. No one knows Day’s true identity because according to The Republic, he’s dead.
At age ten all have to submit to a Trial. The score you receive determines your place in society. Ones with high scores have access to higher education and opportunities for wealth and station. The ones who score below that are not so fortunate, and work in menial jobs of service. If you score really low, the Republic carts you off immediately to “labor camps” (at least that’s what they say) and you never see your family again. June had a perfect trial score and Day scored very low.
June and Day’s worlds collide when her brother, Metias is found murdered and Day is fingered as the prime suspect. June makes it her prime goal to catch Day and bring him to justice, making him pay for the hurt he’s caused her and the life he took. But all is not what it seems and June’s world and beliefs are about to be shaken.
I was surprised by the brutality of this story. The way the Republic and guard treated the people gave me shivers of fear. The common people are looked upon as dirt. June holds the same opinion of the people, at first. Easy to make judgments when you live in a world far removed from the lower classes. Her opinion starts to change when she goes undercover and “walks a mile in their moccasins,” so to speak. When June first meets Day, she’s unaware of who he is, and Day is also in the dark regarding her identity. This allows them to form an attachment to each other before they figure things out. I loved the slow build of their connection which made the romance, even though a small part to the story, really good. I must share a swoony quote:
He kisses me gently at first and then, as if he’s reaching for something more, he pushes me against the wall and kisses me harder. His lips are warm and so soft—his hair brushes against my face. I try to focus. (Not his first time. He’s definitely kissed other girls before, and quite a few at that. He’s—he seems like he’s short of breath….)
This story is told in both June and Day’s POVs, therefore it was easy to connect to each of them. It’s a good thing it was told like this, because if I didn’t get in June’s head, I probably wouldn’t have cared for her. She was so biased in the beginning, but you can see why it was so through her POV. I loved Day’s character and his loyalty to his family, even at great cost to himself. I felt horrible for Day and all that he and his family had to endure. It’s truly heartbreaking some of the things that happen. I was thoroughly disgusted by one of the characters actions. I hope they pay in the next book! The pacing in the story keeps you glued to the pages and I read late into the night to finish! My only complaint with this story is that June and Day didn’t feel like fifteen-year olds. They came across as much older, but maybe this is due to their environment; growing up fast in a harsh world.
At any rate, this was an amazing debut for Marie Lu, truly impressive! I can’t wait to read Prodigy to see what happens next!