Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Rating: 4 Stars
Last YA dystopian for a while, I swear. I have an incredible contemporary up next (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - perf).
Legend is a Young Adult dystopian novel published in 2011, at the height of the dystopian frenzy. This, I think, is why it’s so original and freshly-spun – because otherwise, it never would have survived.
The dual narrative follows June, the city’s prodigy, their rising star, the only known person to have achieved a perfect 1500 in the Trials (exams taken at the age of ten that determine your future), and soldier-in-training, and Day, a fifteen-year-old criminal on the fringes of society. When June’s brother and caretaker, Metias, is killed in action, June learns that Day is the culprit. She’s accelerated to take Metias’ place in the patrol – first mission, track down Day.
I wouldn't have bought this book based on the back cover (it just didnt grab me) but the first page drew me in. Boiled down to its most basic (“Someone kills family member, character departs to avenge their death”), the plot is nothing new, but I think it’s interesting that it was put in a Young Adult (and dystopian) setting, because I haven’t seen many of those around, and the feelings and actions involved are different when the protagonists are only fifteen. For example, in an adult novel a cop might seek to avenge his wife, but here Metias acted as June’s parents (yes, it’s one of those Young Adult novels where the parents are dead).
I was surprised at first to see that the book is so short, clocking in at only 305 pages, which very nearly dissuaded me from buying it. But it's extraordinarily fast-paced, speeding up as the book goes along. It's so tight that I could forgive how short it is.
(Ouch, practically this whole review has just been backhanded compliments).
Lu made it easy to visualise the world, which is good because I'm normally terrible at visualisation. Gritty details are left in there, and it's a very visceral read (as it has to be, because honestly the world-building might not hold up if I examined it too quickly).
The protagonists' ages are so unrealistic. Day's age was mentioned early on in the book but I missed it and was blindsided by it later on. Sure, they're both smart as hell, but the things they endure are just too much for fifteen-year-olds - or are we just used to 16 being the age when teens are out having dystopian adventures?
I don't want to analyse this too much, because I'm afraid I'll spoil my enjoyment of it. Let's just say that it was exhilarating and exciting, and I'm glad I bought it.
Grrr, why couldn't it just be a standalone?