6 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (US) / Puffin (UK)
Publication Date: November 2011 (US) / February 2012 (UK)
Hardcover: 305 pages

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Stand alone or series: Book 1 in the Legend series

How did I get this book: ARC from BEA

Why did I read this book: This is another highly talked about book of the year, receiving a good amount of buzz at BEA, NY Comic Con, and across the interwebs. Being the sucker for dystopias that I am, naturally, I was thrilled to read this book and see if it could live up to the noise. Plus, I still consider LA my home and have a sick fascination for dystopian/apocalyptic novels set in California. Take that how you will!


The places is Los Angeles, the Republic of America; the year 2130. Following societal and economic cataclysm, the western territories of the former United States of America have seceded and formed the new Republic, while other states to the unite under as the Confederation. While tensions are high and a new kind of civil war is being fought from coast to coast, the immensely powerful Republic also grapples with maintaining its grip on its citizens at home. The divide between rich and poor has never been so large, as millions are crowded into slums and suffer routine outbreaks of a devastating, ever-mutating plague that claims countless lives annually.

In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, the Republic requires all of its children to be subject to the Trials when they turn 10 years old. A combination written, oral and physical examination, a high Trial score means a life of privilege and service – and a failing grade means a life sentenced to labor camps, never to be seen by family or friends again. When he was ten, a young boy failed his Trial and was taken not to the camps to work, but to be exterminated – and only through chance was he able to survive. Now, the boy (under the name “Day”) strikes out at the Republic in any way he can, bombing their buildings, stealing plague medicines, and the like – and has quickly become the number one enemy of the state.

While Day wreaks havoc on the Republic, one girl alone has the ability and determination to stop him. June is the only person to ever pass the Trials with a perfect score, and since that triumphant day she has excelled in all of her classes and garnered the attention of top military commanders. After her brother is killed at the hands of Day, June relentlessly dives into her first official mission: to track down Day and bring him to grim justice. But when their paths intertwine, both Day and June learn that nothing – least of all each other – is as simple as it seems. Together, June and Day learn the secrets that the Republic wants no one to know. Together, June and Day will have to choose sides if they have any hope of surviving and saving the people they love.

The much-hyped debut novel from Marie Lu, Legend is an adrenaline-fueled, action-packed, fun novel. I devoured the book in a single sitting and thoroughly enjoyed myself – much in the way that I enjoy and devour films like Con Air. There’s nothing really new here: at center stage, we’ve got the brilliant super genius protagonists, who of course are super hot, who of course fall for each other despite their fifteeen-years of accumulated baggage. Told in alternating point-of-view chapters (with some questionable design elements incorporated into at least the ARC version of the text), the novel chronicles the great evilness of the Republic and all that our brilliant protagonists will do to fight against The Man.1 The plot twists are all fairly transparent from the onset (the origins of the Plague, the ignorance of June and other upper classes, the truth behind June’s brother’s death, for example), and the worldbuilding is eminently familiar. There are echoes of Lois Lowry’s dystopian society of The Giver, of Scott Westerfeld’s bubblegum action in the Uglies quartet, and of the action and basic characterization profile of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Our protagonists may be caricatures, defined by their safely bland appeal, and appear to have unshakably noble values at heart, juxtaposed against the villains of the piece, who are the properly villainous, emotionally distanced monsters.

While the material might not be the most novel, the good news is that Marie Lu has a smooth-handed writing style and a knack for pacing that makes Legend a fantastic, effortless read. The cues are undeniably cinematic in scope, making the film deal for this book is a no-brainer – I can already see the pretty teenage actors walking away from exploding Republic installments with their expertly mussed hair rippling in the wind.

Unfortunately, in the running for best popcorn dystopian of the year, Legend falls second to Veronica Roth’s souped up Divergent. Of course, there’s always room in my heart for more summer blockbuster style action, so I’ll definitely be back for more June and Day.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:

My mother thinks I ’m dead.

Obviously I’m not dead, but it’s safer for her to think so.

At least twice a month, I see my Wanted poster flashed on the JumboTrons scattered throughout downtown Los Angeles.It looks out of place up there. Most of the pictures on the screens are of happy things: smiling children standing under a bright blue sky, tourists posing before the Golden Gate Ruins, Republic commercials in neon colors. There’s also anti-Colonies propaganda. “The Colonies want our land,” the ads declare. “They want what they don’t have. Don’t let them conquer your homes! Support the cause!”

Then there’s my criminal report. It lights up the JumboTrons in all its multicolored glory:

File No: 462178-3233 “DAY”
Wanted for Assault, Arson, Theft, Destruction of Military Property, and Hindering the War Effort 200,000 Republic Notes For Information Leading to Arrest

They always have a different photo running alongside the report. One time it was a boy with glasses and a head full of thick copper curls. Another time it was a boy with black eyes and no hair at all. Sometimes I’m black, sometimes white, sometimes olive or brown or yellow or red or whatever else they can think of.

In other words, the Republic has no idea what I look like. They don’t seem to know much of anything about me, except that I’m young and that when they run my fingerprints they don’t find a match in their databases. That’s why they hate me, why I’m not the most dangerous criminal in the country, but the most wanted. I make them look bad.

You can download the full excerpt online HERE.

Rating: 6 – Good

Reading Next: Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, nook, google, apple & sony

  1. Seriously, what is with the mustard yellow text for Day’s narrative (paired with the huge shadow display font at the top of each alternating narrative)? Not a fan.


  • helen
    November 30, 2011 at 7:50 am

    LOVED this book. I gave it a 5/5 on goodreads. I did NOT love the font/color for the male pov. Very annoying and hard to read.

  • Amy @ Tripping Over Books
    November 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I REALLY enjoyed this book! Pure entertainment. I also just read something–I think Marie Lu tweeted it–that they had tweaked with the text in Day’s chapters and made the color darker. So, they fixed it? I tried to check it out on Amazon but they’ve disabled the Look Inside feature for this book. I have the ARC as well and my biggest problem with Day’s chapters was that they hurt my eyes.

  • Linda
    November 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I am really enjoying this book. My niece and I usually trade books. But this time I bought two copies: one for her and one for me! 😀

  • capillya
    November 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    High five, Thea. The pacing was one of my favorite parts of this book, and I’ll just be frank — I love thievery in the name of goodness, working against corrupt society. And I like super-geniuses, too. If the film actually does come to fruition, I’m really interested in seeing who they cast — I loved looking at all of Lu’s character artwork!

  • Book Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi | The Book Smugglers
    January 11, 2012 at 8:31 am

    […] I haven’t been a huge fan of recent books that employ this trend; see Across the Universe and Legend. […]

  • Anonymous
    January 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Is there a second book coming out?

  • Faith
    February 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I love it. Can’t wait to read the book. The font and coloration didn’t bother me. Can’t wait to read the next one!! 😀

  • Anonymous
    May 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    i admire you!! more quotes tho???

  • Kyri
    May 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Best book EVER!! i couldn’t put it down if there isn’t another book in the series I will die!! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!

  • Kyri
    May 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    OMG!! there’s a 2nd book and a movie coming out i hav to see!! 😡

  • Someone
    June 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I loved this book. I hape there is a movie coming out on Legend. It will be a great movie. I can’t wait 😆

  • Someone
    June 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    it was supposed to be hoped in the first sentence sorry 🙂

  • brit
    June 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

    this is such an awesome book i hope there is a second book 😀

  • Jenna
    September 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    great book! i really hope that theres gonna be a movie! i love this book its great… 😀

  • Get Ready for Prodigy by Marie Lu (Giveaway) | The Book Smugglers
    November 8, 2012 at 6:24 am

    […] Lu, the second book in her Legend trilogy, we have one copy of the book up for grabs! Thea enjoyed Legend (a solid popcorn dystopia action flick of a book), so what better way to kick off this dreary, […]

  • Claudia
    February 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I shall go and read this but i have to agree with he comment on Divergent. I loved that book so much and have recommended it to all of my friends! It was an amazing read and left me stunned for ays after.

  • Anonymous
    February 9, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Legend was such an amazing book and so was prodigy i loved them both so much they were amzing i need to know that there will be a third one or else i might just die :|o|: 😯

  • Stephanie
    August 9, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I read this book a few weeks ago and its absolutely outstanding. i do agree with the others about the font for the “Day” POV. I am buying Prodigy tomorrow and i cant wait to start it! 😀

  • patrice Hawthorne
    November 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Is this book appropriate read for an 8th boo kreport

  • Bob
    April 9, 2014 at 11:55 am

    This book was the best….

  • marie
    April 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

    This book was by far topped my standards for dystopian fiction along with The Hunger Games. The author is very smart and I think she really put on a lot of effort in the military tactics that were used in her books. I also like the way on how she truly incorporated how our world might look like if our governments became corrupt and selfish and then if it was coupled with our ongoing crisis of climate change and global warming. I’ve got to hand it to Ms. Lu, she really had me thinking deep about this. As for June and Day, I like the way how they trusted each other; how in the flurry of unexpected circumstances they met each other and found comfort and solace in the other’s company. I guess the ending of this series was a bit sad but we can’t deny the fact that being in wars can result to that. Anyways, I think June and Day are each other’s true love given the fact of what they’ve been through and how they still found each other in the end.

  • Anonymous
    October 19, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    How would the novel change if the point of view was in the Republic’s view?

  • awesome
    April 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm


  • awesome
    April 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    oooooomg the book is awesome

  • dfnrewrhtr3
    April 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I really enjoyed this book.

  • Book Review: Legend |
    November 19, 2015 at 8:05 am

    […] The Book Smugglers […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.