Review of Legend by Marie Lu
I’ve wanted to read Legend by Marie Lu for a long time. But with the many rip-off’s of The Hunger Games that were released when dystopian fiction hit its peak, I was a little reluctant. I’d heard it was pretty similar, so I didn’t buy a copy. Until now. And I probably should have bought a copy sooner.
Because it’s pretty good.
Lu’s writing style is exactly what I like to read. Sharp, not heavy on description. There’s no room in Legend for pointless metaphors and endless description. Lu delivers punchy, to the point writing that works well for the equally punchy and fast-paced plot. The plot doesn’t really kick in until well over half-way through the book, before that there is the world-building and character developing and setting up that always has to come with the first book in (yep, you guessed it) a trilogy.
The world-building is perhaps the weakest part of this book, and the aspect that cuts off half a star. It’s a little vague and I wasn’t really clear on how the world got the way it did, or why society is divided, or why the government treats people the way they do. I get that (SPOILERS) the poorer cities are experiments. Maybe I missed something, and the world-building is as it should be. But I wanted to know more, to understand more of the world Lu created worked.
The character development is strong, and both Day and June come across as well-rounded characters. They both have strengths and weaknesses; they both have something to fight for. Their voices are a little similar at times and if it weren’t for the headings above each page and different font styles, there’d be times when they’d be hard to distinguish. But for the most part they come across as pretty clear characters.
But character development isn’t why I read books, though investable, interesting characters are a bonus. Action and pace are what I focus on, and this book had plenty of both. Pretty much right from the outset, to the gripping, breathless climax. This is the first book in a series, and you can tell. The plot is a little thinner, as most first books are, while Lu takes the time to set up the world and the characters etc.—but she doesn’t sacrifice pace or action because of it. There is hardly ever a moment to breathe (something I like in a book), and all of the set pieces are gripping, well-written and exciting.
Overall, this is a solid book and manages to be pretty original in a genre that has become just the opposite. This is not a rip-off of the Hunger Games. It does have similarities: a dark, corrupt government, a rebel force, a hero who stands up for the poor, but look hard enough and you’d find these tropes in a lot of books.
Legend is action-packed, fast paced, and relentlessly entertaining. It’s world-building needs work, but that will probably happen in the sequels, which I’ll be reading.
Highly, highly recommended.