Monday, February 11, 2013

Legend by Marie Lu


     Title: Legend
     Author: Marie Lu
     Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
     Published: November 29, 2011
     Number of Pages: 305
     Genre(s): Sci-fi, YA, Dystopian
     Date Read: January 23, 2012
     Acquired: Wal-Mart

Los Angeles, the central stronghold of The Republic, a society that stands where the Western United States once stood, a perpetual war machine, constantly fighting with its neighbours. In a violent warmongering society the officers are the elite, the crème de la crème of society; they live in the wealthiest neighbourhoods and are provided with all of the comforts and luxuries that the less worthy citizens are denied, such as medicine. June lives in such a district with her brother, an important military officer, she herself is a prodigy, quickly on the rise in training, no one can keep up with her. In fact she's so good that when her brother Metias is murdered by the fugitive terrorist Day, the Elector Primo calls June in to hunt him down.

Day was born in the slums; he could have been great, he had all the makings to be the Republic's perfect soldier, but instead he's their most wanted criminal. No one can catch him because no one is as good as he is, except maybe June. The catch? They're both only 15.

But when Day discovers the truth about the Republic, and June discovers the truth about Day, will these two foes become unlikely allies? Will they join forces and become a force so untouchable that they are actually able to bring the Republic to its knees? And what about the supposed enemies, the Colonies, that the Republic claims to constantly be fighting? Can Day and June unravel the web of secrets and lives that has  engulfed their world?

I think you can see the trend that I buy a lot of books at Wal-Mart; family employee discount, if I can get 10% of the price of a book of course I'll buy it there! T'would be silly not to! That's right I used t'would in a sentence. Anyway, you're here for a book review not my opinion on where to buy books. 

I enjoyed Legend, thoroughly, it's a YA Dystopian, which is a genre I am particularly fond of if you remember my recent post on the dystopian trend. As the first book in a series it has the job of introducing us to the world and the characters. Lu does this by choosing to have the two main characters narrate the action in first person, they alternate chapters. To make it easy to remember which of the characters is narrating Day gets sans-serif gold font and June gets serif black. I like the concept of different fonts for each narrator and I also like the way she's chosen the fonts in such a way that they somewhat represent their character's character. June is the straight laced, rule following, military prodigy being groomed for a high position in the Republic government that's what a traditional font signifies whereas Day is the rebel fighting against tyranny and oppression, so he gets a rebellious sans-serif in gold, and the fact that it's in gold just makes you want to root for him because it makes him seem like the good guy. So a smart decision choice, it definitely earns points with me.

The story itself is what drew me into this book and kept me interested. You've got two characters, who on the surface seem like complete polar opposites. What the majority of the time in the book is spent on is the two of them realising just how alike they actually are, they have almost identical thought, speech and action patterns to the point where Day at one point actually points out that June is basically a female version of himself. They are evenly matched physically and mentally even though they had completely different upbringings. It gets right to the heart of the nature versus nurture quandary. Marie does a good job of having these two, basically from separate worlds even though they live in the city, come together to find common ground and move from enemies to allies. Is it a little strange to have two romantic leads who are perfectly matched to one another? Yeah, but that's a fictional contrivance that we as the audience can forgive, (Or you know I can at least I don't know about the rest of you, some of the reviewers on GoodReads certainly couldn't) because inwardly everyone has harboured the fantasy at one point or another of meeting their perfect match, and when we talk about a perfect match we're usually talking about our identical counterpart of the opposite gender, or to quote Paul Walker's character in She's All That when a guy fantasizes about the perfect girl he's looking for himself with tits.

Obviously the growth in their relationship needed a driver and the catalyst for bringing these two unlikely allies together (eventually) was the murder of June's older brother, and only living family member, Metias, supposedly by Day. I don't really think I have to expound on that previous sentence I think you all know where it's going to end up by the end of the book. But the point is that unravelling that mystery is what forces these two together. Solving that mystery of course leads to bigger mysteries and since it's a dystopian series you know that by the end of the book our intrepid heroes are of course going to find themselves right smack dab in the middle of a conspiracy and a revolution. And I always enjoy watching that unfold.

My favourite part about dystopian societies is the way they function, I like to find out about all of the restrictions that have been put in place on the populace, and the tyrants rationales for why their society must be the way it is and Marie Lu did not let me down. She created a very interesting society. I love the way she plays with the original American revolution, the roles are somewhat reversed this time it's the Republic that is the oppressor and the Colonies who are rising up in revolt and trying to bring them down. It's also telling about the authors own stance that she chose to keep Los Angeles and indeed much of the US semi-recognisable as she ratchets the war machine persona of the States up to 11 by turning them into an unabashed, unapologetic warmonger who glorifies war and the military above everything else, and who are willing to do whatever they need to do to the members of their lower class to create the perfect soldier and ultimate weapons.

A lot of social commentary in this book if you look for it. Interestingly she claims to have been inspired to write this story by Les Mis, which is of course chock full of social commentary so I can see how it translates. 

I will definitely be reading the rest of the series, I picked up Prodigy at Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon.


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