Legend

Legend - Marie Lu A friend of mine loved this book, and I have loved Young Adult books with similar themes--Collin’s Hunger Games, another action-packed book set in a dystopia, comes to mind. I think one handicap was that I read this book so soon after Chang’s excellent Wild Swans, a memoir of Mao’s China--a country with which the “Republic of America” of Legend shares a lot in common--a leader around which there is a personality cult and a totalitarian (if seemingly unideological) society. Compared to the real thing I had just read about, Lu’s society of the future and how it functioned seemed bland and vague. So to my mind were Lu’s characters and her prose. The story is told in first person present, alternating between Day, a fifteen year old boy of the slums turned criminal, and June, a fifteen year old girl who is already an agent of the police. The prose is spare and prosaic, there are passages that seemed very romance aisle to me, and there’s not much distinguishing the voice and personalities of one character from the other. The book was supposedly inspired by Hugo’s Les Miserables, but June no more resembles Inspector Javert than Day makes a good Jean Valjean. June with her gold-flecked eyes, Day with his big beautiful blues and their over-the-top abilities and roles seemed pretty Mary and Marty Sue to me. And goodness knows this novel has none of the complexity in plot or character or stirring prose of its inspiration. It’s a fast read, just a few hours for me, and I cared just enough about what would happen to get through it, but I can’t say at the end I felt I’d remember this a week later. I found it a pretty meh book and nothing in it for me stood out or makes me want to look up the next book in the series.