With my last dystopian read being Veronica Roth’s amazing Divergent a few months ago, and me not being a huge fan of the dystopian genre, Marie Lu’s L...moreWith my last dystopian read being Veronica Roth’s amazing Divergent a few months ago, and me not being a huge fan of the dystopian genre, Marie Lu’s Legend had some pretty shoes to follow up on. And, oh my gosh, did it ever! While the plot is a little predictable, Legend kept me hooked enough that I stayed up late and finished reading it within a day.
The story is narrated through the alternating perspectives of June and Day who are a little on the younger side – they’re only fifteen – to be living by themselves. I’m willing to let that slide a bit though because June is a prodigy and Day is smart and has exceptional (and totally unrealistic) physical abilities.
June originally comes off as slightly standoffish, but she slowly becomes more likeable over the course of the novel. Despite living a sheltered life and now becoming an agent for the Republic, I liked that June was willing to question things even if they came from the mouth of a known criminal. She could have easily ignored whatever Day said and been a perfect soldier who believed everything that the Republic taught her.
Day was even more interesting to me. I loved his confidence and the fact that it was impossible to break his spirit even after he landed in the Republic’s jail. If I ever get thrown into a dystopian world, I’d want Katniss and Day by my side!
The worldbuilding is a little vague because it’s not clear how the US broke down into the Republic and the Colonies nor is much told about the Republic’s history. Since Legend is the first in a series however, I expect that Lu will reveal more in the books that will follow. For now, all I can say is that the Republic may not be so perfect, and what it does sounds hypothetically plausible.
Rather than a huge focus on romance, Legend instead focuses more on the familial bond. June has grown up under the care of her brother because her parents died in a car crash when she was young and the two have a very close relationship. It’s too bad then that Metias has to die early in the novel, but I enjoyed getting to know him through June’s memories (even if her sadness at his death sometimes felt more like a case of telling than showing). Similarly, the reader learns about Day’s family through his memories because circumstances have made it so that he’s unable to live with them and instead must survive on the streets. Personally, it was somewhat harder to care about them than Metias (except when John did what he did), but it’s obvious that they’re Day’s greatest weakness because he loves them so much.
There is some romance though; and I liked that it wasn’t something that took over the entire book. There’s clearly attraction between June and Day but there’s also a nicely developing friendship, which made me like their relationship a lot more. Lu deserves bonus points for not having her characters make declarations of love when they haven’t known each other for very long. Moreover, June and Day in my mind were greater together than each individually so I can’t wait to see what will happen to them in the sequel.(less)
The Julian Game by Adele Griffin is a novel that realistically portrays just how easy it is for bullying to occur in schools today. With the popularit...moreThe Julian Game by Adele Griffin is a novel that realistically portrays just how easy it is for bullying to occur in schools today. With the popularity of social networking sites, the truth can be manipulated without any difficulty and the effects can be widespread. Griffin also does a good job with Raye’s reaction because although she hates reading the vicious things said about her, she can’t seem to stop herself from seeing what other people are saying. The ending too was appropriate, and I liked the way Raye chose to respond to Ella.
What I wasn’t as fond of were the characters because they seemed stereotypical. Sure, Ella isn’t Queen Bee at home and has OCD, but she’s also the rich and pretty mean girl whereas Raye is the smart, new girl on scholarship who will do anything to join the popular girls. I also didn’t see what Raye saw in Julian. Even without the blatant warnings to Raye that he was a player, it was so obvious that Julian was a jerk that was simply using Raye. Sadly, the two characters that I did like, Natalya and Henry Henry, weren’t featured as much as I wanted them to be. (less)
Right from the start, it was extremely easy to get lost in the pages of The Grimm Legacy. The world that Shulman has created is so realistic and vivid...moreRight from the start, it was extremely easy to get lost in the pages of The Grimm Legacy. The world that Shulman has created is so realistic and vivid that it’s not hard to imagine the New York Circulating Material Repository, a building that looks like a normal Manhattan brownstone on the outside but is actually much bigger on the inside, having expanded into the neighbouring properties. I especially love the fact that Shulman began each chapter of the book with a Repository object that would be used in the chapter and a call number. Much like Elizabeth then, I felt overwhelmed at first because the call numbers really aid in imagining how vast the Repository’s collection is, but as the book progresses, I too learned how to read the call numbers and so the library started to feel more like a second home. This neat detail to the book just makes you feel as if the Repository does exist! I love my library, but if there’s an actual place like the Repository, feel free to let me know.
The other thing that I really enjoyed about The Grimm Legacy is the cast of characters. They’re all very fleshed out and I love that it’s a multicultural mix since the Repository is located in New York. As much as I liked Elizabeth though and watching her come into her own, my two favourite characters are Marc and Anjali’s siblings, Andre and Jaya. Readers are introduced to Andre when he comes up to Elizabeth while she’s working and tells her he has to go to the bathroom. A three-year-old miniature version of his brother, I couldn’t help laughing as Elizabeth hoped that he wasn’t Marc shrunk by a shrink ray. Plus, Andre calls his brother “butter” and Elizabeth “Libbet,” which I found so cute! Meanwhile, Jaya is that annoying younger sibling, and her interactions with Anjali bring back memories of growing up with my own younger sister. She’s also smart and witty though, which meant that scenes with Jaya were always fun to read.
Shulman’s writing was absolutely brilliant! For example, she does an amazing job describing the Repository without spending a huge amount of time on minute details about how the Repository would work – the basic details are covered – or slowing down the story. In addition, while there’s references to many fairy tales, some of which I haven’t heard of, Shulman does a good job determining which objects’ back-stories would need to be explained a little more. Speaking of objects, Snow White’s stepmother’s mirror is featured prominently, and I loved that it would only answer questions when addressed in a rhyme. Then when answering back in a rhyme, although the mirror had to speak the truth, it would make the truth as ambiguous as possible and call Elizabeth by variations of her name simply to annoy her!
Despite the hints of threat though, the novel remains a fun and light read that will appeal to tweens, teens and adults alike. (less)
Out of all the books I’ve read by Janette Rallison, Just One Wish would have to be my favourite one. Like all of Rallison’s novels, it’s cute, witty a...moreOut of all the books I’ve read by Janette Rallison, Just One Wish would have to be my favourite one. Like all of Rallison’s novels, it’s cute, witty and easy to read, but this one seems to have more depth and has a very unexpected ending! I loved that twist though because life doesn’t always work out the way that we want, and yet Rallison still left me with the upbeat feeling that I’ve come to expect from her work.
I also loved the protagonist, Annika. It’s clear that she adores her brother Jeremy – he’s such a cutie – and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the surgery easier for him. Regardless of whatever obstacle is in her way, she just keeps going and refuses to give up. Rallison however also allows the reader to see the frightened and vulnerable girl beneath Annika’s spunky exterior, which makes Annika a loveable character that you can’t help but empathize with. (less)
Though Janette Rallison’s My Double Life has a serious message or two in it, it was mostly a light and breezy novel that will keep readers hooked beca...moreThough Janette Rallison’s My Double Life has a serious message or two in it, it was mostly a light and breezy novel that will keep readers hooked because pretending to be someone else is just a disaster waiting to occur. Throw in some humorous scenes and a happy ending and Rallison leaves the reader with a pretty satisfied feeling.
The characters were the greatest strength of the book. Alexia is a likeable character that readers can easily relate to. Her yearning to know her father so that she could finally feel complete, her confused feelings about how she would tell her father who she was and how she should feel about him, her worry over whether Grant would like her for herself and her desire to help Kari were all portrayed genuinely.
The evolution of Kari and Grant were also well done and shows that there is always more to people than meets the eyes. While Kari initially appears to simply be a dumb blonde, spending some time with her allows Alexia to learn that unscripted situations with tons of cameras cause Kari to freeze up and make stupid comments. In the meantime, Alexia’s initial attraction to Grant seems more based on his physical looks. Later on however, she realizes that aside from being handsome and rich, Grant is also an unpretentious, funny and amazing guy. (less)