Legend is one of those books. You know the kind I mean: you can’t turn the pages fast enough, but you just don’t want it to end.
Full of intrigue, thrills, darkness and high-voltage action, Legend is a great YA sci-fi debut for Marie Lu.
Set in a futuristic Los Angeles, the novel begins with Day, a 15 year old criminal on the run. No one knows who he is or what he looks like. He’s an exile, the most wanted person in the Republic. He steals to stay alive, and to help his family. He has skills, and they’ve kept him and his cousin Tess alive. But then one night, while trying to steal medical supplies for his sick brother, he gets chased down by Republic soldiers, and leaves one of them for dead.
That soldier is Metias, brother of June Iparis. June’s also 15 years old, but she’s the opposite of Day in every way: the only person in the Republic to attain a perfect score on their equivalent of SATs (with slightly higher stakes; a low score gets you banished to labor camps, or worse). She’s the prodigal daughter of the new world. Its shining star. And the most dangerous, notorious criminal in the Republic has just killed her brother. June swears revenge, and sets out to track him down.
What follows is a thrilling, shocking and adrenaline-filled ride through the darker side of the crumbling sectors of LA. The book is alternately narrated by Day & June, which makes for a fascinating back & forth as the story develops. Lu does a great job of keeping the story moving hard and fast, finding time along the way to bring us deeper into the characters’ inner worlds. She gives us two young people who are both on the edge in their own way, and getting pushed further over. Both Day & June are driven to make tougher and tougher choices, all the way to an incredibly tense, nail-biting finale.
Throughout, Lu brilliantly conveys character motivations, complex relationships, family lives, politics, and the grimy, gritty setting of her future world. She weaves all her threads into one high-velocity narrative that is gripping, raw and doesn’t let up until the very end.
And even then, it doesn’t let you go. As you finish the final page, you desperately want book two. Lu throws you into the ending at such high speed, with so much story tantalizingly ahead of you, that the idea of waiting to find out what happens next is almost impossible to handle. By all accounts, Legend 2 is finished, and Lu is already writing Legend 3. And in the meantime, it’s no surprise that CBS Films has snapped up the movie rights.
The movie and the sequels can’t get here soon enough.