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Legend
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on December 20, 2017
In this novel, our world has been transformed (both politically and climactically). What was the United States has splintered into warring states. Day belongs to the lower class, but has left that life to attack the dominant party where he lives—the remains of a Los Angeles convulsed by rising water and fierce storms. His purpose in life is to cause the Republic trouble—robbing banks, blowing up jet fighters, and generally creating chaos. But he also keeps track of his family, supplying them when possible with food. When his younger brother becomes a victim of the plague, he knows that he must steal the vaccine to save him.
June is Day’s opposite: she comes from the upper class, she is the only person with perfect scores on the Trials, a series of tests that determine a child’s path in life: education, salary, living conditions. She, like her older brother, is training to become part of the military. But then disaster strikes her: her brother is killed during a raid on a hospital. And the military immediately identifies Day as the murderer and allows June to focus her entire being on capturing Day and participating in his execution.
The novel, itself, moves back and forth between chapters from each of their points of view. This is a powerful structural format that allows the reader to follow their changing understanding of the world and the factions they support. Lu’s writing is fine, and my only real frustration was that the major plot twist was obvious from quite early on in the book. But otherwise, this novel seems true to the genre: good folks vs bad ones; a bit of romance; some nice action sequences. I was a middle-school teacher for much of my career, and I think that many of my students would enjoy this book, and would be dashing off for the sequel, Prodigy. And it’s great to see powerful female characters!
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on February 5, 2016
Legend is the first of a trilogy. Set in a future where parts of the US have become The Republic, and others 'The Colonies' (and they are at war, plus the Republic is also facing a rebellion in its own borders), weather is extreme and society has become more structured, the haves and the have-nots more obvious. June Iparis is a prodigy - the only individual in the Republic to score perfectly on their trial which is used to determine what level education you receive and what jobs you are suited for. She is also an orphan. Early-on, she narrates her rebellious streak, her relationship with her beloved brother, and how wonderful and powerful and good the Republic is.

Then, there is Day. He narrates his life as one of the society's less fortunate. He's from a poor slum where life is hard, resources scarce, and plague a constant threat. He's supposed to be dead, failed his trial, and now, he's wanted for criminal activity - he likes to disrupt the Republic by bombing things, steal supplies, etc although he's never killed anyone.

When Day risks everything to save a family member, June hunts him - for personal reasons. As is typical of dystopian novels, she comes to learn that not everything she was taught is the truth. But, her conflict with Day is personal.

Both narrators are well-drawn, voices distinct enough. The action is tight and the novel moves along quickly, without extraneous plots of giant chunks of exposition explaining the history of the world. In fact, few details are known on the how or why, or even a complete picture of the current state of the world of Day and June. The focus is on the characters and the action. The theme and the connection to issues of today are clear, but not overdone - no long speeches or chapters of rumination on the meaning of it all. No big surprises or twists, but it also didn't feel contrived or unoriginal. And while the changing relationship between the two narratives is expected, it isn't overly angst-filled or focused on more than the plot or theme.

Legend is one of the better YA fantasy novels.
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on December 22, 2013
I went into this because I was disappointed with the Divergent series and, based on the stellar ratings, this series promised to be better, but still in the same general theme. I was engrossed in it for about half the book. There were a few things that made me quirk an eyebrow, but I figured, this is a long book, it'll get worked out. Well, it didn't, not really.

I loved the idea and the plot of this book. It follows a pair of characters, both legends in their own way. A terrible conspiracy brings them together as enemies, and as the plot unfolds, you find out the evil doesn't stop there. I liked the characters from the start and was itching to see how their dilemma would be resolved.

My only issue with this book is that there is no emotional development whatsoever. It consists of a series of snap changes that gave me whiplash on occasion. June discovers her brother is dead. She barely grieves, just goes directly to wrath and a quest to find the killer. She then discovers something shocking, and it's presented something like this: What I read fills me with horror (insert three pages of the shock content). She then immediately turns everything off and goes to sleep. No explanation, no chance for her to think it over, or feel anything, just sleep. This happens quite a lot in the book. Big revelations are huge leaps to conclusions by the characters that left me wondering, "How did you get THAT from the available information??" The emotional connection between June and Day was rushed as well. They were pretty quick to forgive and forget, and even taking into consideration that they are teenagers, it's a little less than believable when you remember people DIED around them. Family members. And they were led to believe the other was responsible. June's forgiveness is understandable, but Day... I don't think so. And given the situation he's in at the end of the book, I just can't get behind him worrying more about June's sadness than his own life.

This is a very okay book. It's worth reading. But as the first in the series, the author maybe could have spent a little more time on character development, especially the emotional side.
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on June 11, 2015
I was totally rooting for Day in this book. He is a modern day Robin Hood. He steals from the Republic and gives to those who need it, therefore making him the Republic’s most wanted criminal; mostly because of how stupid he makes them look each time he gets away with something. But like all heroes, he has his weaknesses, and unluckily for him, June is smart enough to have figured them out.

June is the smartest person in the Republic…at least on record. And the only person she has left in the world is Metias. So, ok, she might not have lived in the slums, but her life is by no means perfect. Especially now that Metias has been killed, which I was still extremely sadden by, even though it tells us in the synopsis that he dies. At first I didn’t understand her subdued reaction to his death, but I realized that she needed to grieve in private, not in front of one of the Republic’s most hardcore commanders. Also, part of her grieving included revenge. With all evidence of Metias’s death pointing to Day, June sets out to finally bring him down, once and for all.

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. Marie Lu gives us characters to feel deep emotions for, whether those emotions vary from rage, to sympathy, to love, you’ll feel them! One of the things I love most in some books is alternating chapters between the main characters and in Legend we get to see this story from the point of view of June and Day. YAY! The action is intense. Can’t say Marie Lu is afraid of writing some very brutal and bloody scenes! And I guess the biggest question I was left with after finishing is, what is the purpose of the Republic’s evil scheme? It has to somehow play a bigger role because I don’t see the point otherwise. I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of it soon though. I can’t wait to read the next part of this mysterious story.
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VINE VOICEon July 9, 2015
This book is told in alternate chapter by Day, a boy from the poor part of Los Angeles, and June, a girl from the highest military caste who is being groomed for a prestigious military career. Both were tested at age 10. June got a perfect score and finds herself in military college at twelve; Day also got a perfect score but was told he failed and found himself in a military hospital being experimented on. He escapes and spends his time trying to help his family and hinder the Republic's military plans.

In this city, there are recurring plagues that hit mainly the poor parts of town. When plague hits his family house and his young brother Eden is a victim, Day is determined to get the cure. After a failed attempt to steal the potion in which a soldier is killed, he has to find another way to get money to buy the cure.

The soldier who was killed was June's brother Metias which makes June determined to track down Day and bring him to justice. She goes undercover, finds him, spends time with him, and begins to see that he is much different than she had thought. She still turns him in but things happen that disillusion her about the military's goals. She has to find a way to break him out before his execution.

This was a good story. It is easy to see that people in the Republic are being fed misinformation but also easy to see how someone in June's class would believe it. I look forward to the rest of the series to see what happens next for Day and June.
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on March 16, 2014
For the longest time I did not want to read this book because:
-it’s another dystopian novel
-there are 16 year old kids saving the world
-not one person recommended it (“Well, I heard it was good…)

But that all changed when my best friend read it and could not stop raving about it, so I was willing to give it a try.

AND IT WAS AMAZING.

There was action and emotion, sly humor and some deep thinking.

IT WAS WONDERFUL.

The story flops back and forth between two well developed characters.

Day was is supposed to be dead, but is instead playing Robin Hood and driving the country’s army insane because no one can catch him. He’s fast, nimble and smart.

Then there is June who is at the top of her class; well, actually at the top of the college, really. She is ready to enter the military and she will catch Day. The only thing standing in her way is her extremely over protective brother. But that’s not going to last for long.

The story is set in the future in Los Angeles, California. But our Golden State is no longer part of the United States of America. In fact out country is no longer one country. It’s two countries, the Republic of America and The Colonies, and they are at war with each other.

Day wishes to leave the Republic with his family and live in the Colonies in peace.

June wants to aid her country in winning the war against the Colonies, but to her that means getting rid of the country’s most wanted criminal, Day.

Want to know more? Good. Go read the book.
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on November 18, 2016
I bought this for my 13 year old daughter who doesn't like to read very much. She needed a Sci Fi book for her book report in school. We don't read Sci Fi in our house and she was not looking forward to this. But she could not put this book down. She would read it and then cry out loud worried about a character in the book or be upset about something that happened.
I didn't read it because it is not my type of read, but I can recommend it based on my daughters enthusiasm.
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on June 27, 2014
This dystopian YA tale is centered around two young prodigies, June from the privileged side of the Republic and Day, a rogue in the sea of Rebels. I actually enjoyed this story (on audio) even though I found so many little things about it that seemed cliché. However, clichés and all, I can’t seem to be disinterested in a fight the system story that shows just how treacherous Big Brother can really be.
So now, let me explain what I loved about the story and tell you just why I didn’t give it a 5. The whole fight the system theme is right up my alley, but I don’t understand why the main characters had to both be fifteen. I get that appealing to young audience is where the money is these days, but is it about the age fifteen that’s so special…and prodigies or not, some of the stuff these kids do is just a little ridiculous.
Then there are the themes of rich vs poor and the discovery of government secrets and lies. I’ve read too many books and seen too many movies to allow the “mystery” of this story be a surprise. I figured out what was going on way too early, but I still enjoyed how it was revealed in the end. Like many stories of its kind, in this reality, there’s good reason the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.
World building is very important in this story, though it’s hard to picture everything all at once. It’s one of those stories that describes the surroundings and give you background, but you can only see as far as the horizon until the end. Most of the significance of the Republic, from a geographical point, isn’t clear until about halfway through the story. All in all though, I liked what was done and appreciate the lack information up front.
Then there is the ever present notion of romance that’s sure to ensue in some capacity. This particular romance makes me think of a mash-up between Romeo and Juliet, The Hunger Games, and The Matrix. If I try to explain what I mean here, I’ll give too much away. I’m glad to say that the story doesn’t spend more time here than necessary, but then again we are talking about fifteen year olds.
The last thing about this story that both attracted and repelling me a bit, was the sense that the whole story was about a struggle between the kids and the adults, even though it wasn’t supposed to be. Some of the things that occurred seemed to focus too much on the fact that the main characters were teenagers, making their age an important factor. It seems to me that if this story tells of the struggle between The Republic and the Rebellion, the age of the soldiers wouldn’t be so important as their actions.
Also, the story is told from the alternating povs of both June and Day. I was expecting this to somehow greatly enhance the story, but I don’t think it made any difference, for better or worse. It was nice and not too difficult to follow.
I’d recommend this book to fans of YA and or dystopian fiction with the mention of some violence and some subtle gore.
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on October 17, 2013
Legend has all the things I want in a YA dystopian story --- political intrigue, governmental conspiracies, systematic plagues, a nation at war and two incredibly strong protagonists. SO GOOD.

And while I will admit it's hard to ignore the comparisons to The Hunger Games, I don't necessarily think that it's a bad thing in this case. Where other books try to be THG, Legend doesn't. Sure, Lu uses a similar framework but she makes the story totally her own without going into copycat territory. The story lacks a certain complexity but it still has substance. Lu gives you just enough detail to make you want to know more. I had so many theories running around in my head, and though my intial guess ended up being right, Lu did a great job throwing me off the trail. The answers are never obvious and she keeps you guessing.

Another thing I really loved about this book are its two main characters, Day and June. Each one is strong and resiliant and combative. June is the Republic's prodigy child, smart, perceptive and completely obedient, everything a government could want in a military leader. She's virtually perfect which is both frustrating and somewhat admirable. Then one day she finally meets her match---the boy who killed her brother. Now June is out for vengence. Day is a modern-day Robin Hood, sabotaging the Republic and helping the needy. He's very Aladdin meets Gale (THG) in terms of his resourcefulness and blantant disdain for the ruling elite. He doesn't easily trust others but is fiercly loyal to those he loves.

Speaking of the ruling elite, there's Commander Jameson. She is reminiscent of President Coin (THG) and Jeanine (Divergent) in that there's something very sinister about her motivations. She is pretty much the person that sets our two protagonists on a violent collison course. And it is a spectacular collison, indeed. But what really makes Day and June so wonderful is that no matter how strong they are on the surface, they each have crippling weaknesses. June's big one is her unquestioning devotion to the Republic and Day's is his reckless attempt to protect his family. I have to admit, it's really nice to see June's hard veneer start to crack as the story progresses. I'd say she grows individually more than Day, but they each grow together. They are complementary beings, strengthening where the other is weak which is what eventually makes them such an effective team. I also really liked that there wasn't insta-love between them right off the bat. Their relationship builds slowly, just as the trust does between them. It's a natural progression.

Legend is a great story that's backed by even greater characters. Honestly, that's one of the reasons The Hunger Games has really stuck with me. It's also what a lot of other dystopias have been missing. Lu lures you in with a hint of some serious action, keeps you there with promises of kisses and then rips out your heart with bullets through the brain (literally). It's quite an intense ride. The Hunger Games will probably always be my favourite dystopia but Legend has managed the impossible---it's reconnected me to the genre that I've loved so much, for so long.

Food for Thought: Legend is a fast-paced, easy read that has all the allure of a good dystopia. The story is simple but effective. Lu's words are concise and her characters are strong but wonderfully flawed. If you're stuck in a dystopian rut (like me), I recommend this series to pull you out of it. I rarely say this, but Legend is idea for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Trust me! It delivers!
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on October 3, 2014
I flew through this book in two days. This book is very fast paced and really fun to read. However, I did have trouble in the beginning and trying to understand the world and characters while the book was racing through.

June made a perfect score on her test and now she’s to serve the military. Part of being in the military is capturing the most wanted criminal, Day. She doesn’t know what he looks like or how to find him. One day she has been informed that her brother has been murdered and the suspect is Day.

This is so hard to write a synopsis for honestly so I’m sorry if it’s not all that great. I promise this is worth the read even though I gave it a 3.5/5 star rating. I did very much enjoy this book, don’t get me wrong. The beginning was just a little hard to understand. There is so much action and a few plot twists that you are constantly on the edge of your seat wanting more. Wanting to know what is going to happen next.

I definitely am excited to see what Prodigy has in store for me and I’m very certain that I’ll enjoy it more than this one. Typically the sequels get better. So I have faith.

I really enjoyed this dystopian world, but I feel as if I’ve already seen a few already like this. Very similar in the way that the country has spiraled downward. Maybe that’s what also affected my rating because I’ve seen worlds similar to this already. Maybe had I read this earlier I would have a higher rating. But nonetheless, very much enjoyed this and super excited to see what Prodigy has to offer!
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