Jinny (Lost-At-Sea Book Reviews)'s Reviews > Legend

Legend by Marie Lu
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Jun 30, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: ya-teens, dystopian
Read from June 23 to 26, 2012

3.5 stars. | I had a hard time deciding if I felt this book was a 3 or a 4 to me. Ultimately, I settled for a 3.5, though Goodreads doesn't do half points. Overall, I like this book, it was very action packed and it had a solid plot with likable characters. On the other hand, it didn't feel like a stand-out, unique piece of fiction, mainly because I found it quite predictable, lacked a wow-factor, and blends in well with all the other futuristic YA novels available currently. The lack of good world building really bothered me as well.

Legend takes place in the far future where the United States of America has split into different factions -- the Republic (Western US), the Colonies and the Patriots -- and are warring against one another. The story alternates between the two main characters. Day is a 15 years old, lives in the slums of the Lake sector (previously L.A., I believe?) and is the Republic's most wanted criminal. June is also 15, but unlike Day, she is from a wealthy family and is a military prodigy. When June's older brother, Metias, is killed by Day, June sets out to hunt him down and bring him to justice. It becomes rather difficult when the two unknowingly form a friendship, and discover secrets of the Republic that put both their lives in danger.

The story, the characters and the writing were really well done, I think. It read a bit like a movie script, like watching a film, but I don't really have any problems with that. It was definitely a very action-packed story, even if some parts of it bordered on the unbelievable side (15 year old soldiers in the USA? Even if it's a broken USA, I don't think the country would go backwards and start using child soldiers. Or maybe that's the point, to show how backwards it has all become? I don't know, I need more explanation on the history of this world, which I will elaborate on later). The story was exciting, though hardly unique. Many parts of it, like lovers who can't be together because they live in "opposite worlds", have been done to death in stories.  So it's not unique, but I still think it was well done and the author does a really good job presenting it.

The book's biggest downside is the world-building. Really, I would have rated this book as a 4 or even a 5 if world building actually existed in this book. It is never explained why the USA became separated into these different, individual nations and what exactly they are fighting about. Actually, I have no idea what they were fighting about. I also had no idea why Day was rebelling against the Republic. I mean, I know he was wronged by them once, but so have a million other boys before him, so I don't know how or why he became this super notorious criminal; what does he get from that? Based on what happened to him, wouldn't he rather lay low?

But by far, the most annoying thing was not knowing the history of the world. I couldn't feel properly immersed into the world. At one point, Day reveals he has an old quarter from 1990 where it says the United states of America, making a big deal about how once America was united but no one knows. So obviously the history of the country is unknown to its own citizens. Why?! And how did it happen?! I don't know, I feel this is a pretty important point to make. And if you tell me, "Oh, all will be revealed in the next books in the series" then I will say, "That's not good enough." It comes off as poor or lazy world building, and I'm really tired of YA trilogies withholding key story points for their next books, if that is the case here, because that's not how book serieses should be written.

Also, the alternating fonts and font colour for Day and June's chapters were distracting and a bit bothersome.

Anyway, I liked the book, I liked the story and characters, those were all very well done, but the world is so poorly explained that it really drags the rest of the book down a bit. I will continue to read this book series because I did enjoy it after all, though I had hoped for something more impressive.
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06/23/2012 page 31
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