Legend, by Marie Lu

Legend

What It’s About

A dystopia where the United States has turned into a totalitarian dictatorship and children are subjected to eugenic trials. In this world, June, the Republic’s military prodigy, goes on a manhunt for a Robin Hood-like rebel, and in the process learns more than she wanted to about the world she is living in.

Why I Think You’d Like It

First of all, I really enjoyed both protagonists. I didn’t lose sympathy for June despite the ways she was a tool for a corrupt institution. I also thought Day, the rebel, hit a good balance between heroic figure and ordinary human. He wasn’t just a cunning rogue; he had clear vulnerabilities and limitations, right from the first chapter.

This is in many ways a relationship novel. Not gonna say what kind of relationship, because spoilers, but the characters are well matched, with a nice blend of contrasts and similarities. Their perspectives and skill sets are in opposition, but both are observant, logical, driven by family yet coolly devoted to justice. The interplay between their different agendas and natural kinship makes for fantastic scenes. There wasn’t a single point where the dynamic was driven by a contrived miscommunication or other such device. Everything that happened between them unfolded naturally and proceeded from what had been established about their characters.

Also, the world felt messy and human in a way that I liked. I feel like, in the YA dystopia subgenre, there’s a pressure to have some high concept gimmick in your world. Many of these are genuinely clever, but sometimes they are so tidily conceptual, they stop feeling like a world that arose from human failings. This world has verisimilitude. No tricks, just bad human beings who gained far too much power over other human beings.

The pacing moved perfectly; slow enough for me to adjust to each twist and new revelation, but fast enough that I was always hooked. The exposition was nicely interwoven with the plot as well. And, while it is the first of a trilogy, the central conflict is given a satisfying resolution. There is room for continuing adventures, but you aren’t left with the feeling that the climax has been left off just to force you to buy another book. It’s an exciting, satisfying adventure, so if you are into the dystopia YA genre and haven’t tried this book yet, you should!

Content Warnings

Violence, fights, blood, scary plague victims…. the usual dystopic stuff. Nothing unexpectedly graphic though.

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