Sunday, February 5, 2012

Legend Book Review

Author: Marie Lu. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile. ISBN: 9780399256752.
Annotation: The year is 2130 and, after the collapse of the United States, the western half of America, a Republic, is embroiled in a civil war with the Colonies to the east. Fifteen-year-old June Iparis, the Republic’s most promising up-and-coming soldier, vows to avenge her older brother who was killed by a notorious criminal known only as Day. June is unprepared, however, when she discovers that Day is, like her, only fifteen and her brother’s death might not have been his fault after all.
Personal thoughts: I always like a good dystopian novel and so I really enjoyed Legend because it is just that: a good dystopian novel. This genre seems to be more and more popular in young adult literature, but Marie Lu added a lot of elements to her story to make it fresh and unique. I was really intrigued with the Trials concept and hope she goes into that a little further in the sequel. I also am curious to learn more about the conflict between the Republic and the Colonies, and think that it will have a more important role in the sequel as well. Overall, I want to know more about the world Marie Lu has created and am looking forward to the sequel. I would highly recommend Legend for teens (or adults!) who are Hunger Games fans especially!
Plot summary: Following the collapse of the United States, the western half of the continent has become the Republic of America: an oppressive society ruled with an iron-fist by an elector and his massive army of soldiers. All children in the Republic are subjected to the Trial at age ten: an aptitude test that determines their place in society. Fifteen-year-old June Iparis has accomplished what no other person in the Republic has, a perfect score of 1500 on her Trial. This puts her in a top position with the Republic’s army, and she trains constantly with her older brother, Metias, hoping to eventually become a commanding officer. On the other side of the spectrum is Day, a fifteen-year-old from one of the poorest sectors of the Republic who failed his Trial. Those children who fail are sent to labor camps, but Day, who managed to escape after receiving his score, has been living on the streets, trying to protect his family from the oppressive police forces and plague patrols that dominate the poor districts. Now Day is the most-wanted criminal in the Republic and has been accused of the murder of June’s brother. Enraged and determined to avenge Metias’ death, June goes undercover to discover who Day is and bring him to justice. The more June learns, however, the more she begins to understand that the Republic, not Day, might be the true enemy.
Review:  Debut author Marie Lu describes the first novel in her new series as a more modern take on the classic Les Mis√©rables tale, exploring the relationship between criminal and investigator. Add a gritty, futuristic setting rife with oppression, civil war, and conspiracy, a touch of romance, and two attractive teen protagonists and you have Legend, a dystopian novel that will appeal to fans of the genre as well as those who are simply interested in a well-written and entertaining story. In the wake of the Hunger Games mania, teen readers are often looking for something that is different enough from Suzanne Collins’ trilogy to be intriguing but similar enough to have the same appeal. Marie Lu’s new series fits nicely into that category. The setting is well-thought out and developed, as are the various pieces of the Republic of America: the class warfare, the segregation, the plague and disease, the brutality of the government, etc. The main characters, June and Day, share in narrating the novel, providing the perspectives of the haves and the have-nots and allowing for the reader to identify with and care about both equally. The book concludes at a satisfying point that still leaves plenty of room for a sequel to continue story. Overall, an easy-to-read, well-paced and enjoyable novel that fans of dystopia, especially The Hunger Games, will want to read. The not-yet titled sequel is set to be released in late 2012.
Genre: Science-Fiction
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Matched by Ally Condie.
Themes:  Dystopian, oppression, terrorism, loyalty, post-apocalyptic, disease, conspiracy.
Awards/Reviews:  Starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA and Library Media Connections. Positive reviews from New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today.   
Series Information: First installment in Legend series. Second novel set to be released in 2012.
Discussion questions: 
-    What do you think is the purpose of the Trials?
-     Why was Day trying to stop the Republic’s efforts on the Warfront?
-    Which character did you like better: Day or June? Why?
-   Do you think June did the right thing? Why or why not? What would you have done?
-      What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

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