Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Legend

YA dystopian is the new black. We all know that. It's popular and there are a slew of books in this genre hitting the shelves right now. While I don't think any of these series will ever reach the fever pitch achieved by the Hunger Games series, there are still tons of books of similar merit. Some of my YA dystopian recs include the Delirium books by Lauren Oliver and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. If you're looking for something that not a lot of people talk about, but is one of the books that defined the genre ages ago, check out Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It's brutal, but, well, it's brutal.

I grabbed a copy of Legend by Marie Lu on Friday and finished it Saturday night. Truly a great read! It barrels along at break-neck speed and really sucks you in from the opening pages and refuses to let go. The story opens in the Republic (formerly the western U.S.) with 15 year-old Day watching the plague police do their routine check on his family's home. Day has been in exile since failing his trial 5 years earlier and made a name for himself as a famous criminal. He watches on helplessly as his family's home is marked with the dreaded quarantine "X" - meaning that the plague has been found. Day has to find a way to help his impoverished family get the medicine they need to survive.

Once we're introduced to the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder, we meet June who is at the very top. She is the nation's best of the best (literally receiving the perfect score in her trial), attending college four years early and on the fast-track for a top military assignment. She is a preeminent example of good breeding and a resolute Republic citizen. Her life is toppled, however, when her brother, and only remaining family member, is murdered by none other than Day - the Republic's enemy #1. June vows to hunt down her brother's murderer and bring him to justice, until she meets Day and discovers that a lot of things in her perfect world are illusions cast by the Republic itself.

Like I said, this book packs a punch of information, background, and plot in only 300 pages. It could easily have been another 100 pages longer and still be paced very well. I enjoyed Lu's take on the warring country of the Republic and its constant enemy known as the Colonies. She did a wonderful job drawing the parameters and social morays of the new world and the Big Brother-esque government. The themes of family and duty run strongly through each chapter and bring a dynamic reminiscent of the Hunger Games. I'm really looking forward to the second installment this fall.

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