Your Post-Hunger Games Dystopia: Welcome to Marie Lu’s Legend
In a future not so far away, natural disasters have devastated most of the East Coast of the United States. Large parts of the West are under the rule of a repressive, merciless government that uses military force to maintain its status quo. Military leaders live like kings while the poor carve out their hopeless existence in slums, working themselves to death. Welcome to Marie Lu's young adult debut, Legend, a story that takes us into the ruins of Los Angeles, its former beauty a distant memory.
Amid shabby Quonsets, we meet fifteen-year-old Day, a modern-day Robin Hood and the country's most-wanted criminal. In the same city, but in what feels like a different world, lives June, a wealthy military prodigy blessed with extraordinary physical abilities and a sharp mind. Still just a teenager, June is already on her way to the Republic's highest military honors. Day and June's paths cross when her brother, Metias, is murdered. Day becomes the prime suspect and June is sent out to avenge her brother's death. Since primary attempts to track down Day have failed, June wants to try a different approach: She disguises herself and blends into the rogue streets of the slums.
Unfamiliar with the roughness of the outskirts, June gets herself in trouble soon enough. Faced with a desperate situation, she is saved by a boy with bright blue eyes. In this moment, June thinks he might be the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. But what she doesn't know is that her savior is actually her target and enemy, Day. The two travel together, trade food, stories, and an emotional first kiss. June is confused by her feelings. More important, living among the poor challenges everything June was told about the Republic. The world in which she grew up, a world that was built by propaganda, starts to fall apart.
Legend has plenty of action, suspense, and romance to satisfy both male and female readers. Within its three-hundred pages, Lu manages to develop authentic voices and characters readers can identify with. In this context lies the book's greatest achievement -- the slow, reluctant shift in June's convictions is the very core of this story. It is as believable as it is compelling to see how her indoctrinated worldview suffers its first cracks until it ultimately collapses like a house of cards. Marie Lu's dystopian novel is the first book of a trilogy that has what it takes to become the next big thing after The Hunger Games.