Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Marie Lu Legend

305 pp.  Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)  2011

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Source: ARC received at NCTE

Summary (From Goodreads): 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.

Dystopian YA novels have really taken off in the past couple years.  I really enjoy this genre of YA, but I’ve found myself becoming pickier about which titles I’ll read.  I read multiple positive reviews for Legend and a number of teachers and librarians that I trust recommended it.  Fortunately I received an ARC at NCTE and I’m so thankful I took everyone’s recommendations!

One of the reasons I’m picky about reading dystopian is because it gets overwhelming at times.  Some of the stories become upsetting after a while, that being the nature of the genre, which causes me to need a break or to be picky about the titles I read.  Legend is an excellent example of a dystopian novel, but it’s also a little lighter than some of the others.  Yes, there’s death and the fear of death, but there’s also a balanced mix of humor and romance.

Reading novels told from more than one point of view is always enjoyable for me.  So many of my students are requesting titles written in this way.  Day is our male protagonist and June is our female protagonist.  Day is one of the nation’s most wanted criminals and June is one of the nation’s prodigies.  Our seemingly opposite characters will cross paths after the murder of June’s brother, Metias.  Both characters are fighting for their families and discovering unsettling truths along the way.  Marie Lu did a very good job developing Day and June, so much so that not only did I connect with both of them, I was able to distinguish between their voices despite the differences in font colors for each point of view.

Teen guys and girls will enjoy this novel because even though there’s romance, there’s plenty of action and suspense.  So many scenes had me holding my breath and eager to read more.  I can easily picture teens connecting with Day and June’s loyalty to their family.  June wants to avenge her brother’s death and Day wants to protect his family from the plague.  I can picture readers connecting with June’s sense of patriotism for her country, especially at the beginning of the story.  Our readers that question our government might connect with Day and his actions against the government, especially when they understand his motives.  So many connections can be made with these characters and the universal themes incorporated in the novel.

Legend is a fast-paced, exciting debut with a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers begging for the second novel.  Parts of the story were predictable, but that never kept me from fully enjoying it.  Legend is now one of my favorite dystopian novels.

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