Legend series: Review
I've heard amazing things about the Legend trilogy, but it's taken me a long time to pick it up because I've been turned off of dystopian fiction since The Hunger Games (don't hate me!). However, a friend recommended that I read this trilogy before picking up Marie Lu's newest book, Warcross, because there are some easter eggs to pick up on if I do! Fine, fine. That's as good an incentive as any! And let me tell you something- I finished this trilogy in three days. Once I picked Legend up, I could not stop until I reached the end of Champion. Spoilers ahead!
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.
The Legend series consists of three books that must be read in chronological order:
Each book alternates between our two main characters' points of view, both told in first person POV. If you've followed my blog, you may know that I'm not really a fan of first person POV because these types of narrators get on my nerves very easily. The trick to Legend, however, is that we alternate between two mindsets. Each character is very different with their own set of morals, experiences, and gifts. We get to see each character's perceptions of the other- their flaws and weaknesses exposed. This adds a layer of authenticity to each character and knocks them off of their omnipotent first-person-POV pedestal.
These two characters are June and Day. As the summary for Legend above implies, they each grew up very differently, but their paths converge under a set of extraordinary circumstances. June is a polished soldier of the Republic, having grown up with all of her needs taken care of. Day is a Robin Hood-esque type of character who lives on the streets and steals only what he can't afford ("and that's everything!" - bonus points if you get my reference). They may seem like typical character archetypes, but June and Day prove to be very dynamic and complex. The most important thing is that each character progresses tremendously throughout the three books. Their ideals are tested, their morals challenged, and yet they mature through all of it.
The one nit-picky complaint that I have about June and Day was how quickly their relationship progressed. I am no fan of "insta-love," where two characters fall instantly into a desperate romantic relationship. June and Day's relationship very nearly falls into this category. They are such strong individuals, yet melt into puddles of incoherence when they're around each other. Part of me thinks this is crazy sweet. Part of me thinks this is completely unrealistic, given their political and social circumstances. But all of me is ready to forgive this slight transgression for the way it builds up to the incredible series ending in Champion. Of course, no spoilers there!
Another thing that nagged at me were the politics of this dystopian world, particularly in Prodigy, where this plays a big factor in the conflict in the second book. I wasn't always clear on why one side was fighting the other, what one group's motivations were for the actions they were taking. Sometimes, those international affairs don't need to be clear in dystopian fiction, but the Legend trilogy ends up expanding its focus to outside of the United States. That being the case, those international politics should have been more clearly delineated. Since we are thrown into the conflict between the Republic and the Colonies from the very first book, the reader doesn't have time to develop an understanding of how the world got here- we can only grasp at the straws we're given.
I love how each book in the trilogy picks up right where the previous one leaves off. With delicious cliffhangers, there is a clear continuity that allows the reader to plunge into the next book in the series without pause or confusion. All in all, each book was very strong from start to finish, which is rare with a trilogy. Each book had fast-paced action sequences and fully dimensional characters. The world that Lu creates here is clearly dystopian, but with her own twist, which is rare to find these days.
Individually, I rate Legend 4/5 stars, Prodigy 4/5 stars, and Champion 5/5 stars.
I rate the Legend series 4/5 stars!