From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths…
Until June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.
In a shocking turn of events, the two uncover what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.
Holy shit balls, Batman. This was an awesome story.
The year is 2130. America, as we know it, has collapsed. The western territories (California, Nevada, and Arizona) have formed the Republic and they are in a war with the Colonies. In the Republic, the divide between rich and poor has never been so large, as millions are crowded into slums and suffer routine outbreaks of a devastating, ever-mutating plague that claims countless lives annually. The Republic requires all of its children to be subject to the Trials when they turn 10 years old. A combination written, oral and physical examination, a high Trial score means a life of privilege and service – and a failing grade means a life sentenced to labor camps, never to be seen by family or friends again.
Enter June, a young, 13 year old who scored a perfect score on her Trial, which sets her up with a brilliant future of glitz, glamor, wealth, and success within the government and military. Enter Day, a 13 year old boy and the Republic’s most wanted criminal and who I think of as a modern day Robin Hood. Reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, June and Day were born on the opposite sides of the tracks. One lives in the slums; the other lives the high life. But when June’s older brother, Metias (a Captain in the military), gets murdered, the mysterious Commander Jameson pulls June out of training early to hunt down her brother’s killer, Day. And so begins this tale of lies, and betrayal, and secrets, and sacrifice. Because of course nothing is as it seems, especially not in June’s world when you’re working for the corrupt government.
That’s the set up for you. The novel is thrilling. Marie Lu does an exquisite job of how she structures and organizes her book (with chapters devoted to June’s point of view and Day’s point of view) instead of single person POV. This gives us a great insight into each of these character’s lives. Like most YA books, it doesn’t have the detailed world building that high fantasy does, but in this case, it’s very unnecessary anyway. Legend creates and holds the tension between the hunted and huntress with heart pumping action sequences such as street brawls, tracking, recon missions, kidnapping, and plenty of fight scenes.
By far the best thing I would say about Legend is the emphasis and tone of the story. I am generally highly critical of most YA, because there are many stories where the focus is on the romance and love rather than whatever disaster is actually happening (i.e. I feel like Mortal Instrument is more about a guy and girl who fall in love and they happen to be trying to save Clary’s mother). Whereas Legend feels like it’s about a girl trying to avenge the murder of her brother who happens to develop feelings for her brother’s killer whom she’s hunting. That is great storytelling.