Synopsis (From GoodReads):
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
There have been several books over the past few years about a dystopian America, including the Divergent books, and The Hunger Games. All of these books play on our fear of the government having too much control in our lives. Legend, by Marie Lu, successfully works on those fears, but also makes a more timely case for why society would break down: Global Warming.
What I Liked:World-building:
I was really taken with the care and detail author Marie Lu took to create a realistic, and frightening, society. Not surprisingly, the Republic is run but the rich elite. The society has orderly cities, well-run schools, and employment for all. But it is also in constant threat of ever-changing strains of the plague, and in an ongoing war with "The Colonies". This fear is what really keeps the people in line. If people think the government is trying to keep them safe, they will accept many kinds of oppression, and look the other way at abuses of power.
This is a classic Romeo and Juliet tale of a rich girl and a poor boy finding each other. June and Day come from the opposite ends of society. June is a celebrated child prodigy (one of the only people to ever have a perfect score on The Trial), while Day is a notorious criminal. When June thinks that Day killed her brother (Shakespeare, anyone?), she sets out to find him and bring him to justice.
I loved how June evolves in this book. She goes from an enthusiastic young person blindingly swallowing the Republic's rhetoric, to someone who begins to think for herself. She comes to realize the mistakes she made and has to reconcile them with her conscience.
Day has had to make some hard choices in order to protect his family. The Republic has forsaken him and, in return, he has dedicated his life to causing trouble for the government. But even though he has seen the worst of humanity, he still has a kind heart.
What I didn't like:There was one character that I really didn't like: Commander Jameson. While all the other characters in this book felt fleshed out, Command Jameson seemed very two-dimensional. She seems to be pure evil yet we never discover why she is so sadistic. I also didn't like that the only female in a powerful position in this book was a scheming, selfish person, devoid of any feminine traits. Does a woman need to be ruthless in order to be respected? I don't think so.
Overall, I think this was a promising start to this series. With a fast-paced plot, engaging characters, and an imaginative society, I am looking forward to the next book.
Release Date: November 29th, 2011
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Format: Audio Book
Source: Public Library
Recommendation: A look at what the world could be like when we let the government make all our choices for us. This was entertaining, and even a bit romantic.