Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book Review: "Prodigy" by Marie Lu

There's something about the second book in a trilogy. It's like everything just clicks. No matter how strong the first book was, in the second one, all too often the author hits their stride and delivers a powerful punch. It was the case with The Hunger Games trilogy—I thought Catching Fire was pretty fantastic—and Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire, and it's definitely the case with the second book in Marie Lu's Legend Series, Prodigy. I enjoyed the first book, Legend, a great deal, but I couldn't get enough of this one.

Following his faked execution at the hands of the Republic, June and Day escape Los Angeles and head for Las Vegas, where they hope to meet up with a group of Patriot rebels, whom they hope will help heal Day's wounds and provide assistance in his search for his young brother, Eden, captured by the Republic to be used as a medical experiment. Upon their arrival in Las Vegas, they learn that the Republic's Elector Primo has died, and he is replaced by his son, Anden, who once showed interest in June.

The Patriot rebels have connections in high places and promise to help Day find where his brother has been taken, but they ask for a pretty high price in return—they want to enlist his and June's assistance in assassinating the new Elector, so the Patriots can take control. Being pressed into this kind of service will separate June and Day, and playing two different roles definitely strain their blossoming relationship. Day starts to wonder whether his blind faith in June is warranted, or if finding herself back in the arms of the Republic, where she flourished previously, will be enough for her to leave him and the Patriots behind. And as June spends time with Anden, and hears that his plans for the Republic are far different from his father's, she wonders if she can stop the Patriots' plan, or whether doing so might mean Day's certain death.

What is the stronger obligation, love and friendship, or principle? How do you know whom you should trust? Are there moments when you should trust your head and not your heart? Should you put the needs of family above the needs of your country and its people? Prodigy addresses all of those questions but doesn't necessarily tie all of the answers up neatly, or answer them at all. The book alternates the narration between Day and June, so you're able to get both sides of situations, and understand how one character sees something may be vastly different than the other.

This is a great book, and Marie Lu did a terrific job moving her characters and the plot forward. While I had a feeling about how the plot would ultimately unfold, I loved how Lu kept me guessing, and I found myself heavily invested in what was going to happen to June, Day, Anden, and those around them. There's good action and character development, and the choices the characters face aren't as clear as they seem.

Prodigy is even better than its predecessor, and as I raced through the book over the last day, all I kept thinking was, I can't wait for the third book. Let's hope it's worthy of the first two in the series...and it doesn't take too long to come out! (Sorry, Marie Lu, but the pressure's on!)

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