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Legend by Marie Lu
Review by Hannah
In author Marie Lu’s debut novel Legend, 15-year-old June Iparis is the Republic’s protégé, born to influential parents into a wealthy family, but raised by her older brother Metias, as June’s parents died in a car crash when she was young. At fifteen, she is the youngest senior at Drake University, having been the only one who scored a perfect score on the Trial, a comprehensive test administered to everyone in the Republic at the age of 10. On the other hand, 15-year-old Day is born into a poor family in the Republic’s slums; he is their most notorious criminal, having committed an arsenal of crimes undermining the Republic. One night, Day breaks into a hospital to retrieve plague medication for his mother, who has come down with the disease terrorizing many of the Republic’s poorer areas. The same night, Metias, who is guarding the hospital, is stabbed and killed, seemingly by Day. However, he’s been falsely accused of the murder, and June is unaware as she vengefully searches for her brother’s killer. A manhunt then ensues, with June leading the charge to get justice for her brother. As June and Day’s lives fatefully intertwine, they must both try to stay alive while discovering the horrible truths that surround them and encapsulate their lives.
Lu’s breathtaking novel weaves a rich tapestry of betrayal and trust, of suspense and bravery, as the topics of societal classes and privilege are explored. The threads woven into the plot are extremely thick, durable; they stay knotted tightly together and are sure to never be forgotten by the reader. Each character experiences equally iconic moments that shape them into different people, for better or for worse.
Readers find themselves easily becoming attached to characters through Lu’s crafty writing; they know June wants to find Metias’s killer and are simultaneously rooting for her while feeling heartbroken because they understand Day’s point of view as well and don’t want him to be harmed. June’s deeply close relationship with Metias causes his death to be even more earth-shattering, and Day’s loyalty to his family truly tugs on the reader’s heartstrings. Tess, Day’s 12-year-old companion, offers comfort and security to Day as she assists him with his many dangerous ventures. Although Day found her as a small, weak child, she grew up to play an extremely critical role in his life, helping take care of him when he is sick, and just being there for him and morally supporting him.
Having two points of view made the book extremely good, and was, in fact, crucial to the plot. WIthout both points of view, one would not have understood the motives each character had for their actions. Both points of view made the reader more involved in the story, as they would be torn between rooting for two people with completely opposite goals and intentions. Furthermore, the fact that both characters were initially pitted against each other, yet neither side could truly be considered “bad,” made the story so much more engaging.
Those who enjoy dystopian fiction with whirlwind, forbidden, and dangerous romances such as Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and the classic Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will find themselves hooked to Legend. The strong female leads inspire ideas of courage and the persistence to stand by personal beliefs, even during persecution. Filled with twists and turns, Legend is truly a book for readers to love and treasure forever.