Author: Marie Lu
Release: November 29th 2011
Genre: Post-Apocalypse, YA
#1 in the Legend trilogy
Sequels: Prodigy (#2), Champion (#3)
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.
This book. I'm still trying to figure out what I think about it. I liked it, really liked it, but still...
So. The story takes place in a dystopian society named the Republic, which was once the USA, where every 10-year old has to take a test to see if he's valuable to the country. If they score under a 1000 points out of 1500, they fail and are sent away. These tests are to single out people worthy of being trained a soldier and then sent to win the war against the Colonies, who is the other part of the former USA. So the bad genes are eliminated and the good ones carried on.
June Iparis is the only one ever to have scored a 1500 on her test. Being born into a wealthy family and because of her massive skills, she gets to skip a lot of school years and graduates the most elite university at only fifteen. She is assigned to lead the investigation to hunt down and find Day, who is the country's most wanted criminal and incidentally the guy who killed her only family member, her brother Metias, since her parents had died in a car accident when she was young.
Let's talk about plot holes first. What exactly has Day done? We know he has committed a lot of crimes like breaking into banks or hindering airships from being able to be used in the wars, but I don't really see how a 15-year old doing these things can be the country's most wanted? Don't they have some more serious criminals out there? Seriously? A teenager is their biggest threat and able to escape a whole troop of soldiers who were trained their whole lives, although Day comes from a poor family himself? I don't believe that, Lu. I've seen that plot twist concerning that issue coming from a mile away. Aside from that, we haven't gotten any information as to how the United States have split into the Republic and the Colonies in the first place. Something must have happened, but what? You can't just drop that kind of society that could ACTUALLY become true in a matter of some decades and then not explain how it came to all this. I'd like to know a background of the world-building, otherwise it just isn't as credible anymore as it could have been.
Oh, and the plot twists? You're not fooling anyone. Half of the things that happened were so awfully obviously foreshadowed it felt like Lu was practically shoving a big red sign under my nose, it was painful to read. It's like she took us for stupid, low IQ readers that could not possibly see through all her cleverly disguised hints. Yeah, right.
But THE CHARACTERS. They were amazing, holy shit.
June? She was a total BAMF. I liked her from the very beginning and she turned out to be so freaking awesome, wow. It's good to see a nice young heroine that's intelligent and ready to kick ass anytime, a really fresh breath of air in the never-ending pool of useless, damsel-in-distress protagonists lately. She was a fun and determined character and wasn't drowned in grief because of her brother's death, but she was actually able to move on and do things, which so many other heroines don't even do anymore nowadays. She grew a lot, probably because of the many things she found out about the Republic along the way, but still, she grew only more awesome. June was really interesting. As was Day, the hero and other main character. The book is told from first person view of both June and Day, switching each chapter, and let me tell you. The issue with, say, Matched? The characters have the same voices inside your head? Nope, that's not the issue with this book. Even though Day himself even states that June is just like himself and they are very alike in basically everything, they still sound different, and that is, I think, proof that Lu can actually write.
Yes, this book isn't only carried by its characters. Although, I have to say, the protagonists Day and June are the only ones who affected me personally. I didn't care much for Tess, she was sweet but that was it. Commander Jameson was a bitch and Thomas... he could have been nice, I guess, if we would have gotten more to know about him. We only ever get to know that he is from a poor family and only in the police patrol because of Metias. At this point, let me tell you I loved Metias. He was probably my favorite character aside from June — it's really a shame he dies after so little pages. Sigh.
Now, the plot did intrigue me and it was suspenseful. Things happened. Interesting things. I found myself wanting to go back to reading this book. Although they were some parts where the pace dragged a little, the book flows pretty good. It's not too boring but not too fast, either. Lu made a really good job on that one.
All in all, I'll definitely be reading the sequel. I want to know what happens next, especially since this book with its 300 pages was awfully short. I gave this book five stars first, but decided on four in the end, because it wasn't one of those "OMG I MUST HAVE THE SEQUEL, LIKE, RIGHT NOW THIS WAS MIND-BLOWING, LIFE-CHANGING OH MY GOD"-esque books. But I did put it on my shelf, saying to myself "Wow. I really liked that! It was good." So I can recommend giving it a try, if the plot sounds interesting to you. Otherwise, if you are not taken in by the plot... don't. I can imagine this could be a dragging read then.