YA Dystopian, 305 pages
Acquired and read: My local library; read within a day (it was THAT good)
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.
This is the dystopian I've been waiting for all of 2011.
Though not completely a retelling of Les Miserables, Marie Lu's talented debut still takes the important threads of the plot line and weaves them together into an entire new setting. I was a little thrown off balance at first because somehow I figured that Day was the girl (blame the long hair), but after that little confusion was sorted out, it was one smooth ride.
I loved the way that Lu made both characters loveable and sympathizable in their own way. Usually, I end up liking the boy and hating the girl for totally not deserving him, or vice versa. In Legend, I do admit that I was biased towards Day because it felt like he had so much more at stake than June, but she still had a soft spot in my heart for her circumstances. Confession: It hurt when Metias died. It really did.
(But definitely not about her Trial-SAT-whatzit scores. Way to make all us non-evolved teenagers feel dumb.)
Also, in my opinion, Day > Katniss when it comes to be a revolutionary starter. I mean, I probably mentioned this before, but in the Hunger Games, it seemed like people chose Katniss as their symbol merely because of a flaming dress gimmick. With Day, it made much more sense - a Robin Hood tripping up the rich set with every step they take? Of course the citizens would take him as their figure of hope.
(No offense to any Katniss fans. I say it how I see it.)
The main thing that irritated me - as it does in most every YA I read nowadays - is how quickly a cute face and "glittering eyes" can make a girl/guy fall in love. Day and June knew nothing about each other, and Day still acted like a sop over her even after she betrayed him. I do have to admit, though, that I liked the way that the author kept June on her guard until she learned more about Day for herself. Rational researching heroines for the win. Another thing was the miraculous case of their both being prodigies, which I hope will be explained more in the next book: if Day was a prodigy, too, why was he shipped off?
Also, did anyone else notice some subtle foreshadowing on page 182 - the confrontation between Thomas and June? Cool hinting, that.
Warnings: Character deaths - all of which made my heart stop for a few minutes. :( Other than that, no other red lights.
Final verdict: Read it. You won't regret it.