Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: "Legend" by Marie Lu

It is the future, and the Western United States is now the Republic, a military-run nation fighting for control over its neighbors. In order to succeed, the best and brightest students are handpicked by the Republic to attend one of its four finest colleges and then serve the military. Those less scholastically minded teenagers are put to work, and those who fail the Republic's test of mind, character, and athletic ability (called "Trial") are sent away to labor camps. Routinely, sectors of the Republic are affected by plague, but with some of the greatest scientific minds at their disposal, plague outbreaks don't last too long.

June is one of the Republic's greatest success stories. Born into one of its most elite families, she is the only student ever to get a perfect score in the Trial, and she is sent to college at age 15 to prepare her for her service to the Republic. Day, also 15, is a child of the slums; he lives perpetually in hiding, as he is one of the Republic's most wanted criminals. When June's soldier brother, Metias, is killed one night, Day is the chief suspect in his murder, and June vows to use her strength and intelligence to hunt him down and ensure he answers for his crime. Yet once the two finally cross paths, they realize they have more in common than they ever imagined, and both of their worlds are turned upside down.

At least half of the so-called "young adult" novels published today have some type of dystopian vision of our future at their core. With Legend, Marie Lu has created another less-than-rosy version of our future, where the government and the military combine strengths to keep the people down. Her setting—and her characters—are well-drawn and very compelling, and they help the book rise above its lovers-from-different-worlds premise. This was a really quick read, and although I could see many of the plot twists coming, it is a testament to Lu's writing ability that I still wanted to see how she pulled everything together. Day and June are very fascinating characters, and as I believe this book is just the first in a series, I look forward to seeing how she continues to develop their story.

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