Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Cover Image by Goodreads

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Series: Legend #1
Publisher: Penguin
DOP: 2013 (original 2011)
Pages: 295
Rating: 5/5
ISBN: 978-0-141-33960-3
Twitter: @Marie_Lu

Day is a fugitive the Republic has trouble with catching as he goes against the laws in order to find a way to make it easier for his poor family. June works for the Republic, resolute in finding her brother’s murderer and avenge his death. They have nothing in common. Two different backgrounds, two different opinions and yet, when their paths cross there’s something that intrigues them about the other, forcing them to be faced with the consequences of their own background and the knowledge they have on the Republic.

Marie Lu’s world has been written in such an attention-grabbing way that it was hard to put down the book. With an action packed plot and a very well built world, was Legend the answer to my long lasting reading slump. Told from two perspectives, Day’s and June’s, the plot evolved to a crescendo that kept me turning page after page, something the books I’ve been reading lately lacked.

The World of Legend

Set in a futuristic USA in which the country has been split, Legend has two separate governments: the Republic in the West and the Colonies in the East. These two governments are in constant war, the result of the water rising in the East and taking up land and people wanting to flee to the west. As the story takes place in the Republic, the Republic is shown as a dictatorship while the Colonies are represented as the land of milk and honey – the equivalent of Utopia. Within the Republic, there is a group called the Patriots, who work for the Colonies with their solemn goal to destroy the Republic and reinstate the former USA.

Legend’s Main Characters

Day knows how hard life can be, having been raised in one of the poor sectors in Los Angeles. After he has failed his Trials at the age of ten, Day has some idea on how the Republic truly works. Forced to live on the streets while in hiding, Day decides to work against the Republic, continuously breaking the law to find ways to make it easier for his family. He’s loyal to those he loves; protective to the point he puts himself in danger all the time.

“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything’s possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.”
-Marie Lu, Legend 

June has had a relatively easy life so far. Although she lost her parents at a young age, her brother Metias was there to pick up the pieces and to take care of her. Privileged with her intelligence and her family bands to the Republic, she supports the Republic, fully trusting them and the cause they’re fighting for. She’s a prodigy, having skipped years in her education and is recruited by the military once her brother’s been murdered to hunt down his murderer.

My thoughts

Marie Lu explained the world in a fascinating way. She constructed it from two different views, creating a paradox at the beginning as each character has their own opinion on the Republic, immediately setting apart both characters. This generates an element of confusion, forcing the reader to continue reading because only then, everything will start making sense. At the same time, it keeps the readers detached from the two main characters as they have to figure out for themselves which one of them is telling some form of truth, who is the real bad guy in this: The Republic or Day; or are they both? And, what about the Colonies and the Patriots? What’s their part in this story?

Another element that kept this story interesting was the lack of physical descriptions of the main characters. At the beginning, it is hard to perceive any physical details about the protagonists, especially as Day’s appearance continuously changes on the JumboTron broadcasts and the Republic doesn’t even know how he looks like. This adds to the detached feeling discussed above but it also gives the reader time to judge their personalities without judgment based on how handsome or beautiful they are.

It’s only when Marie Lu let her main characters come into contact with each other that the feeling of the story changes. Not only do we finally find out how Day and June look like, creating a tiny eruption of satisfaction but their paths crossing added another layer to the story. Their views clash with what they know and forces at least one of them to rethink and re-evaluate everything they know. From this point on, June and Day feel more connected to each other but their different opinions still carry along the detached feeling of the society.

What I loved even more about Legend, is how all of this happened gradually and not instantaneously. With each new chapter, something is revealed about this world and it doesn’t always match up, depending which point of view you’re reading. This caused me to turn the pages, desperate to find out what’s real and what isn’t and if that’s not enough, Marie Lu’s descriptive, yet to the point action-filled paragraphs were so well written that I could feel my own adrenaline pushing through my own veins, sitting on the edge of my seat. Amazing.

Have you read Legend? What did you think about Marie Lu’s writing style and the fact she wrote from two different pov’s? Do you think this enhanced the story or not? If she only wrote it from one pov, do you think the story would have had the same effect? More importantly, did you like the book as much as I did or did you have some issues with the world, its characters or something else? Let me know in the comments down below!

More books by Marie Lu:

The Legend series:

The Young Elites series:

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4 thoughts on “Review: Legend by Marie Lu”

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