GREETINGS! I know I’ve been missing in action for a while now but, as I suspected, the end of this year has just been getting a little hectic for me. To make matters worse, my language learning obligations have been really inconveniently pressing on me and clawing away at my time. So lately… “I feel thin… sort of stretched… like… butter… scraped over too much bread.”
But on to the review…!
A review of Marie Lu’s Legend
“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.”
• • •
I don’t often read YA, but if it’s on audiobook and there’s nothing more pressing on my audiobook list, I might give some YA a listen. I sort of remember people talking about this book and it receiving pretty positive reviews, but I wasn’t expecting much. Partly because I’m not the target audience and partly because it’s not often popular dystopia stories work for me (especially contemporary, but I have some crit to hand out to classic dystopia too!).
I didn’t find any of the characters annoying or anything (which is a massive plus!) but I didn’t find their stories compelling either and they left little impression on me at all. Everyone felt pretty cookie-cutter. Cookie-cutter Aladdin-esque, wronged, gifted street kid (complete with cookie-cutter helper orphan sidekick); cookie-cutter ‘badass’ (hmm), rule-breaking, brilliant, military prodigy rich girl; cookie-cutter bad guys; cookie-cutter totalitarian military government with your basic evil-genius plans. (But, let’s be real, what evil genius plans are ever that good really? It’s a hard thing to make work.) I would also flag this up for ‘insta-love’.
Listening to the audiobook, I preferred chapters narrated by Day to June’s (her voices of other characters—especially men—is kind of awful, haha), but they were both sufficient. And the whole plot was very predictable. I figured out everything maybe a quarter of the way in while our ‘genius’ main characters were still puzzling… But I wouldn’t have wanted the plot to be any more convoluted than it was, so maybe that part’s not a complaint so much as an observation.
Truth be told, it all felt kind of superficial. I knoooow people die…and I knooooow the government is mean…And I knoooooow times are tough in this future world…But death and martial law alone, a dystopia do not make. For me, it’s kind of like Dystopia Lite. (Or even Lazy Dystopia…) I was not convinced of this world. My disbelief was not suspended.
Like a cross between (Disney’s) Pocahantas and Pride & Prejudice, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea…But then I guess it wasn’t totally not either because I finished it.
Despite all my seemingly harsh words, I didn’t actually think it was terrible. It was OK. I have a lot more I could say about what made me roll my eyes but it’s too spoilery and, like Liv, Forever, I listened to the whole story until the end.
I’m willing to call these kinds of reads a “guilty pleasure” because (even though I don’t actually feel guilty about it) I kind of enjoy rolling my eyes at this stuff. I think “guilty pleasures” are more about the fact that you can’t honestly defend their worth, but you find them fun in some way.
I think for those who are really into dystopian YA, this will fit in perfectly with the tone of all the other independent-teen narratives set in gloomy future worlds rife with familial death, ‘exceptional’ female protagonists, (often surprisingly?) gifted love interests, and backstabbing ‘secretly’ terrible suitors.
I do not, however, think it particularly stands out. I’m unlikely to continue the series, but if you like this genre, you might want to add this to your TBR. I’m sure there’s a good reason it’s so popular and gained so much praise. Many people (its target audience: likely fans of the genre or those new to dystopia) loved it. Maybe you will too.
I’ll try to make sure my next review is of a book I really enjoyed so you guys don’t start to think I hate everything! :’)
genre: YA dystopia, romance
publisher: Penguin Audio (I listened to the audiobook)
date read: 20 October 2015
recommend for: fans of the genre, those new to YA dystopia
pros: characters weren’t annoying
cons: predictable, nothing new