Sunday, January 29, 2012

If you liked the Hunger Games check this out

Review of Legend by Marie Lu
By Erin MacLellan, Beehive Staff

So you’ve finished the Hunger Games series, and after that thrilling, heart-rending ride, what do you read now?

There are plenty of dystopian young adult novels out there, but it’s taken me a long time to find one that captured my interest. And here it is: “Legend” by Marie Lu, a fast-paced blend of action and science fiction, with characters you care about: 15-year-old Day, an outlaw fighting the government, and 15-year-old June, a brilliant soldier hired to hunt down Day. It’s the first in a planned trilogy, and even if the writing is not as stellar as The Hunger Games, it’s still an exciting read.

The futuristic story is set in Los Angeles in the Republic of America, ruled by a dictator who wages war against the eastern Colonies. The poor live in plague-stricken slums, and the rich live sheltered and apart, in a society where the highest calling is to serve the military. At age 10, every child is tested in the Trials, and those who score well go off to military school while those who fail are dispatched to labor camps or worse.
June is the only person to have made a perfect score on her Trials, so she is trained in an elite military school and given every advantage. Day, meanwhile, failed his Trial and ran away, living in the shadows so he can watch over his family and launch attacks against the repressive Republic.

Their two fates collide after June’s brother is killed in an attack led by Day, and June is sent to track Day and bring him to justice. The story, told in alternating chapters by June and Day, has plenty of pulsing action to keep you turning the pages, but there’s also a sweetness and complexity to both characters that saves them from being superhero caricatures. Eventually romance blossoms between June and Day, but their different causes ensure that they’ll be ripped apart – even as they learn devastating secrets about their families and the Republic that make them question everything they are working for.

I wanted to love this book like I adored the Hunger Games, but it just doesn’t have the superb writing and emotional depth of that book. In fairness, Lu is a first-time author who is 27 years old, and Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games, is a long-time writer with many books to her credit. Still, I’ll be waiting to read the next installment in the Legend series, and knowing that the movie rights are already sold, I’ll be eager to see the film, too.

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