Bookmarks Issue: 
57-Mar-Apr-2012
By: 
Marie Lu
user_rating: 
0

A-LegendMarie Lu, a former art director at a video game company, was born in 1984. Legend, her first book, has been acquired by CBS films and is the first in a planned trilogy.

The Story: In 2130, Los Angeles, much of it now a plague-ridden lake patrolled by soldiers, is the Republic of America, perpetually at war with its neighbors. Fifteen-year-old June, a child prodigy born into a wealthy family in the Republic, is being groomed for the Republic's elite military. By contrast, 15-year-old Day, who lives in the Republic's slums, is the region's most wanted rebel and criminal. When June's brother is murdered, Day becomes the prime suspect--and their paths cross. As Day tries to save his family from the Republic and June vows to avenge her brother's death, the unlikely pair, with their conflicting authoritarian and humanitarian missions, start to uncover the Republic's secrets--and their mutual attraction.
Putnam Juvenile. 305 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780399256752

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars"In the kickoff to her new Legend trilogy, Lu embellishes upon some of the genre's tried-and-true story lines with enough inventive details to keep things from becoming clich?©. ... Legend is a taut and exciting romp for all readers, but it will be especially so for L.A. readers, who'll delight in the geographic gamesmanship of matching neighborhood descriptions with their real-world counterparts as June and Day realize that all is not as it seems with their government." Susan Carpenter

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars"A fine example of commercial fiction with razor-sharp plotting, depth of character and emotional arc, Legend doesn't merely survive the hype, it deserves it. ... She takes her time with her characters' shifting motives, which makes the story even more credible and satisfying." Ridley Pearson

Wired 4 of 5 Stars"Anyone with the most basic understanding of the issues facing us today will be able to sympathize with the challenges Lu's characters face. ... All in all, it is a dystopian tale that is not quite as bleak or scary as many YA novels, which makes it more appealing to me as an adult reader." Kathy Ceceri

Fantasy Book Critic 3.5 of 5 Stars"This book was inspired by the plot of Les Mis?©rables as the author wanted to see what would happen with a rivalry between June and Day, two charismatic individuals who happen to be on the opposite sides of the coin in this world. ... [At times the] author fails to truly convince the reader about the direction which the story is taking." Mihir Wanchoo

USA Today 3 of 5 Stars"Lu's best twist is to employ two good-looking, 15-year-old heroes as alternating narrators. ... Her challenge is to turn June and Day into full-fledged characters--people you can imagine in a world that's hard to imagine." Bob Minzesheimer

Critical Summary

Readers wishing that Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games trilogy was, well, a tetralogy will be thrilled to discover Marie Lu's debut novel. Although Legend travels over well-worn ground (two independent protagonists from different sides of the tracks match wits in a dystopian future), it mostly lives up to its media hype. The book tells of social conflict and teenage love, and, if this theme isn't exactly new, the plot's fast pace and cinematic action managed to captivate all critics. Some caveats: Lu's prose is just so-so; she doesn't explain what created this dystopian Los Angeles; and her characters could benefit from a little fleshing out. But fans of The Hunger Games will find a welcome addition to the genre, with the sequel due out in fall 2012.