Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Series: Legend #1
Author: Marie Lu
Published: November 2011 by Putnam Juvenile (Penguin Group)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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.

Last November I read my first Marie Lu book, The Young Elites, and was blown away by her writing, world building, and characterizations. I knew I needed to read more of her books so I couldn't wait to start this series that I know a lot of people love. And while I did find Legend to be an enjoyable read, I didn't love it. I thought it had great characters and an interesting narrative style but I found the plot to be a little basic and I wanted more world-building.

Probably my favorite thing about Legend was the characters. Both main characters were complex and interesting and while they are similar they are also incredibly different. Both June and Day are larger than life. June is the youngest prodigy serving in the military and is well-known for her prowess and intellect despite being a teenager. But she's not your average kickass female warrior. Despite being incredibly skilled she still has to prove herself to others. I found her really compelling because while she never for a moment doubts herself that's kind of her biggest weakness. She is a little sheltered and very trusting which gets her into trouble sometimes. But that is what makes her a well-rounded and likable character. Day however is not an elite, he is the most notorious criminal. He is also well-known and infamous for his skills and intellect. He's definitely misunderstood though and has this real Robin Hood vibe about him that I totally respected. And while they come from different backgrounds and want different things, they find a kinship in one another. And while I did enjoy that aspect of their relationship, I didn't love their romance. It was a little intsa-lovey and for me their companionship didn't have to be romantic. But that didn't ruin their characters. I was still invested in their struggle and wanted to see them succeed.

But liking the characters so much was really helpful for the narrative style of the book, another thing that really worked for me. You know that I don't love alternating perspectives but seriously, no one does it better than Marie Lu. Both June and Day had very distinct voices despite their similarities. Seeing the book from each of their perspectives led to us getting to know them a lot better. I felt like I knew them both on a deeper level and I wanted to see them succeed even when they were at odds. The other thing that the alternating perspectives did was create a lot of dramatic irony. We knew things that the characters did not know and that made for a really suspenseful narrative.

That suspense also extended into the plot of the book. While there was a lot of action and excitement throughout the book I didn't feel the thrills in the way I often do with these kinds of reads, I think I was expecting a thrilling and action-packed story but what I got was a mysterious and intricate read. The stakes here are pretty high for both our main characters and things definitely build to a thrilling conclusion but the general plot development was not about the thrills. And while I did find the plot interesting, I found the pacing to be a little disconnected. With two separate protagonists they are going to move at different speeds and reach different points that lead them to the inevitable climax. And while they did reach the same climax it felt like they reached their own individual ones first which was odd to me. But a lot of the plot is about learning the truth and learning about what is really going on here and they had to find their own truth before they found it together and learned the bigger picture information about the world as a whole.

Speaking of that world, Legend was a perfectly passable dystopian read but I was missing a little something from the world. I think my lack of connection with this book was the world-building. I feel like I'm being contradictory to what I often say about the world-building in my reads but here I would have liked a little but more. The disparity between the elite and general populace is a concept I love in my books but it was only barely touched on. And while the idea about a disease affecting the population was a big part of the plot development, I didn't feel like I knew that much about it. When it comes to dystopia what makes the books engaging for me is either lots of thrilling action or big picture political intrigue. In this book the lack of action wasn't balanced out by the bigger themes. Legend is the first book in a series and usually with first books I find that they either give you too much info about the world or not enough and in the case of this one it was the latter. I found the world interesting, I just wanted more.

But thankfully this is just the start of a new series and I am excited to see it all develop. I don't always love first books so I am going to continue with this series and find out more about the world and these characters.

I give Legend by Marie Lu 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are a big dystopia fan check this series out. It was a good start to a series and I am excited to see where things go. I am definitely connected to these characters and I want to see where it all ends for them.

Have you read Legend? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Oh wow I'm honestly glad you liked this book! I've seen mixed reviews everywhere and I know that some people love this series and consider it to be their favorites. It amazes me that people can have different opinions on something and I actually love that! I loved your review :)♥
    Looking forward to giving this one a try as well!

    - Jumana @

    1. I liked it and I can see why a lot of people love it, it's just I'm not a huge fan of first books in general. And I know what you mean about people not liking something you love. It just reminds me that we all have different opinions. Even when you think you have similar tastes from a person you are uniquely you.

  2. I love this series, but you're right, the world-building is barely touched on. But since I have read it, I know that it will be discussed more in Prodigy and Champion. Can't wait to read your review about it :)

    1. YES! I'm so glad we get more of the world in the next two books. I just started Prodigy and I'm already enjoying the world-building more. It was so narrow in Legend where now there is more context.

  3. I felt June was a bit robotic, but I loved the dynamic between her and Day. There was plenty of suspense, and this definitely is a hardcore dystopian! I felt the writing was a bit bland and lacked emotion and spark. That's just me though. So glad you liked this! Prodigy is even better :)

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    1. Robotic is a good way of putting it. I like Day's chapters better that's for sure. See I didn't really find Legend to be a hardcore dystopia. Not enough of the political intrigue and evil government stuff for my liking. I'm about 2/3 of the way into Prodigy and I can definitely agree it's even better!