June and Day are part of the same nation: The Republic of America. They’re in the same city: Los Angeles, California. Their lives could not be more different.
Born into an elite family, June lives in a wealthy sector with her brother, Metias, and every luxury the Republic has to offer. A prodigy who passed her Trial with more than flying colors, June is training to join the Republic military and take her rightful position among the country’s leaders in their continuing war against the Patriots.
Day is not elite or wealthy, and he’s definitely not a prodigy. Born in the Lake Sector slums, Day’s family thinks he’s dead. It’s safer that way. Better he have no connections to anyone when he is the most wanted criminal in the Republic.
No one knows what Day looks like or where to find him. His odds of avoiding capture and continuing to be a thorn in the Republic’s side are quite good... until Day takes a desperate risk for his family — one that leads to him becoming the prime suspect in the murder of a Republic soldier.
Not just any soldier, though. With her brother dead, June is highly motivated to catch his killer, both to prove herself to her military superiors and to earn Metias some much-deserved justice. She is willing to do anything to achieve her goal.
From different worlds, pitted against each other, June and Day are obvious enemies. When sinister secrets about the Republic come to light, Day and June are also their own best allies in their search for the truth. Legend (2011) is Marie Lu’s first novel.
There are a lot of books that have been called “the next Hunger Games” or otherwise compared to the bestselling trilogy by Suzanne Collins. A lot of them are quite good. Legend was one of those books. It has also received steady hype since the summer. As with many books that get a lot of buzz, I expected to enjoy Legend.
I did not expect to be completely engrossed and impressed. But I was.
I think Legend is the first book that is completely on par with The Hunger Games, without any reservations.
Written in chapters that alternate between Day and June’s narrations*, the story is filled with action and tension. Lu masterfully creates two unique characters with their own narrative voices, adding depth to an already exciting story. In an over-saturated genre, Legend keeps readers guessing to the very end, and not just about what will happen to June and Day, but also about some of the key tenets of the world she has created.
Legend is the first book in a series that promises adventure and suspense, as well as a variety of diverse, layered characters. Lu's debut novel is sure to find a place in the hearts of many readers looking for a worthy follow-up to The Hunger Games.
*The book is packaged with DAY or JUNE written across the top of each chapter. Day’s chapters are printed in a bold, gold-colored sans serif font, while June’s are the more traditional black serif. Some people were unimpressed by the packaging — my mom couldn’t even tell some of the text was gold. I quite liked the touch and thought it was very clever and well done.
Possible Pairings: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, White Cat by Holly Black, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.