Sunday, January 22, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu is yet another young adult dystopia. (From that sentence, you can probably guess the tone of the rest of this review, huh?) Day and June are teens living in the Republic of America, a military dictatorship. (To picture what the Republic of America is like, think what would happen if the United States was split down the middle, and the western half of the US decided to model itself after North Korea.) June is a child of privilege -- at the age of ten, she got a perfect score on the Trial, the aptitude test that all students must take. Now, at fifteen, she is almost finished with college at one of the top military-controlled schools, and she is on the fast track to joining the military, just like her older brother Metias. Day, on the other hand, is the Republic's most-wanted criminal -- mostly because, according to their databases, he doesn't exist. When Day raids a hospital for medicine for his younger brother, Metias is killed, and June swears revenge. Of course, the two are drawn together through a series of coincidences, they fall in love, and much drama ensues.

This book has plenty of action, and I can see why many people like it. Both main characters are sympathetic, and it's easy to hate the super-evil government. But for me, that's where it starts to fall apart. For one thing, if June is so intelligent (a perfect score on the Trial is unheard-of), why is she so blindly loyal to a government that is obviously corrupt and cruel? She does discover some of their darker secrets over the course of the book, but what about the obvious stuff that they've been doing all along? It's not like they've made a secret of the fact that they are generally brutal toward the populace, and you have to wonder how the head of the government gets "elected" for eleven consecutive terms, basically unopposed. I also thought that June and Day's romance seemed a little bit hard to believe, based more on an instant attraction or infatuation than any deeper personal connection.

It's obvious that there will be a sequel (probably two, since trilogies are the going thing right now), but I don't think I'll feel any desire to read them. Maybe I'm just burned out on dystopias right now, but this is certainly not the strongest one I've ever read.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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