Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenille (Penguin imprint)
What was once the western United States is now the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbours. Born into an elite family, June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the highest of military circles. Born in the slums, Day is the country's most wanted criminal, but his motives aren't as malicious as they appear. June and Day have no reason to cross paths, until June's brother is killed and Day is the prime suspect. Caught in a game of cat and mouse, Day races to save his family while June is on the hunt to avenge her brother. But then the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Marie Lu's debut is packed with suspense and action, this book is non-stop with thrills and cunning plans. We're given two characters who are both intelligent and motivated, very good at what they do, and they're thrown together in a world crumbling but still controlled by an oppressive dystopian-style government. Reading this book was like watching a great action movie. It kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what twist would be thrown at me.
So much of this book is about intelligence and being strategic, about seeing all the possible outcomes, about knowing everything that's happening around you and planning around it. June and Day both think in multiple directions while most of us only think linearly. There's one goal with one way to go about achieving it, but that's not how it is for June and Day. There's always another way, another option, another gap in the wall to sneak through. They were glorious together.
This book is also about family. The lengths Day is willing to go to to keep them safe, to keep them healthy as a sickness sweeps through the slums, to keep them from suffering. The lengths June was willing to go to to learn who killed her brother. Then family becomes the people you care about, the people you trust above all else.
While I'm starting to feel a certain complacency in terms of dystopian YA, this was refreshing. Still a dystopian but with more of a military feel. It made the book harder for me, harder for the leaders to crack. And the divide between the poor and the rich was so clear. But nowhere is safe, nowhere is perfect. Society is still crumbling in on itself. It'll just take more than one bomb for it to break.
The lies of a dystopian society is what brings it down in the end. Look at Ally Condie's Matched. They decide what's best for the general public and so what they believe will keep the population happy to make sure society won't crumble. But they withhold, they secrete and sweep it under the rug, and remove the outliers to keep the majority in check.
Fast-paced, thrilling, intelligent, Legend will leave readers scrambling for more, waiting for the next pin to drop, the next heavy fall of a soldier's boot, the next gunshot.
(I received an advance copy of this book from a friend. She had an extra and offered it to me.)