Review of Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
I gave up on YA dystopian fiction when it seemed all that was being published was that genre and most of it not very good. But then I read The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (check it out) and it made me give YA dystopia another chance. I read Legend by Marie Lu, and that kept me interested. It wasn’t the most original book I’d ever read, but it was entertaining from beginning to end. Prodigy, the second book in Lu’s Legend trilogy, raises the stakes, and is even better than its predecessor.
Originality in dystopian fiction is pretty hard to come by now, and that’s not just because the books in the genre tend to be derivative of the Hunger Games or Divergent (which is derivative itself in places) but because everything has been done and it’s not easy to be original when that happens. Prodigy isn’t original. It shares tones and themes with the Hunger Games, sometimes to the point that it could be plagiarism (a hero picked out by the people to fight the corrupt government, a bird as a symbol, etc). But somehow Prodigy manages to be different enough that I forgot about the Hunger Games while reading it. That’s in large part down to the relentless pace (from beginning to end) and the string of gripping action set pieces.
Action. It’s my favourite part of a book, and I like plenty of it and for it to be as brutal as possible. And Lu delivered on that front. Legend is packed with chases sequences and fight sequences and some breathless escapes. There’s never a dull moment. There are some grating moments, mostly down to the characters. Day and June are constantly questioning each other and themselves and their feelings for each other. Feelings… They’re not my thing. And they’re present here from beginning to end. Many will enjoy that. For me, the constant doubting and worrying about each other got pretty old. There is a war going on around them and they’re worrying about their feelings for each other, and their feelings for other people. Day is as bad as June for this.
The plot, like in Legend, isn’t full of twists and turns, but it’s gripping enough to hold the story together. There is a lot of running and being chased (see Cap’n Jack below). But i wish there had been more plot, more surprising twists. Though the ending does leave some pretty big questions for the third and final installment. The world-building started off vague, but a couple dozen pages in Lu remedied the mistakes from the first book and I found it easier to imagine the world of these books. And it’s cool. The twist about the colonies was great, if not entirely unexpected, and I’m looking forward to finding out more in the third book.
The writing. Lu has got a knack for using a few words and getting everything across clearly. She doesn’t use pointless description and too many figurative devices. She gets to the point, and the pace benefits from it. There are a lot of questions in this book. June asks herself a lot of questions and so does Day. There are whole paragraphs made up of just questions and it feels a little bit… much at times. That’s the only problem I found with the writing. Lu can write. No doubt.
Overall, this is an action-packed second instalment. It doesn’t suffer from second-book-syndrome and Lu takes the characters and world to new places. The plot advanced enough that breaking the series into a trilogy seems justified, and it’s good that I can’t predict what’s in store in the final book. There’s a big cliffhanger, and I’m not sure where Lu’s going to take it.
Highly, highly recommended.