Legend by Marie Lu is one of those blockbuster YA books that gets so over-hyped ahead of its release, you become wary about whether it’s really deserved all that attention. In this case, I’d say the answer is an overwelming yes.
As a sort of Dickensian dystopian, Legend tells the dual stories of June and Day — two teens, whose stories couldn’t be any more different (and yet, so similar). Day has grown up in the slums, and his Robin Hood-esque crimes have earned him the title of “most wanted criminal” in this futuristic version of the United States. Meanwhile, born into the lap of luxury and considered a prodigy, June is being groomed for the military’s highest ranking offices. The two teens’ paths cross when June’s brother is found dead, and Day is named the prime suspect.
It’s no surprise that Legend was optioned for a movie adaptation before even hitting store shelves. Each moment is packed with action of a cinematic scope — and as the story progresses, the stakes keep getting higher and higher. The plot unfolds like peeling back the petals of a flower — each layer reveals some new twist that keeps you turning the pages, looking for new answers.
June and Day are likable characters, and though perhaps not the most original, they each give you a reason to root for them. It’s the side characters and supporting roles that really give this pair depth. Honestly, it’s easy to become invested in their stories — as each fights for what they believe is right.
And remember that Dickensian quality I mentioned earlier? Amidst all the science fiction and futuristic dynamic at work, the heart of Legend’s conflict is, indeed, something you might find in the work of Charles Dickens. Class distinction. The upper class, versus the lower class. Elements of Dickens’s work seep into the very foundation of Lu’s action-packed novel.
That action culminates in a thrilling and heart-breaking climax that sets the stage for the rest of this planned trilogy. Legend is a fast ride, so hold on — because those 300+ pages will go by lightning-quick.
Legend is in stores now.