Did you ever watch the TV show Jericho? It’s a dystopian tale about what happens when a group of people use small nuclear devices to set off minor atomic bombs (as if there is such a thing!) in numerous areas of the U.S. The resultant chaos leads to three separate countries forming out of the ashes – the western U.S. becomes the Allied States of America, the East remains the United States and of course, Texas sees their chance and takes it, becoming The Republic of Texas. I couldn’t help thinking of this flawed but fun series as I read Legend, a story of the Republic with an authoritarian government comprised of the Western US.
Day is a hero, a legend, a myth. No one knows what he looks like. No one knows who he is. But they know what he is: Public enemy number one to the Republic. But he sees himself as just a boy trying to survive the mean streets of Los Angeles and help the poor of his area as much as he can. When he makes a quick visit home and discovers his brother is sick, he breaks into a hospital hoping to steal the cure available only to the rich. Of course things go wrong and he finds himself throwing knives and taking daredevil jumps just to get out alive – sans cure. Desolate, Day wonders how he will ever be able to get his hands on the medicine that will heal his younger brother. Then a rumour starts, offering hope if he is willing to take great risks.
The only family June Iparis has ever known is older brother Metais. As a fifteen year old prodigy with extraordinary gifts she eagerly awaits the moment she can join him as a soldier. Then tragedy strikes and all June is left with is a desire for revenge against the renegade known as Day. Since traditional tactics have failed to capture him, June takes to the streets, living the life of a renegade within Los Angeles and offering the one thing she knows the desperate can never resist: Hope.
This quick, engrossing read pulls you in from the start. In few words, Lu does a great job of sketching out a world which highlights the cruel disparity between the rich and poor and the dangers and cruelties of a society which favors one over the other. She paints a clear picture of the world Day and June inhabit and shows how it has formed them, but she leaves just enough unanswered questions to leave us eager to find out more. How did this new world order come to be? What is really happening here? Who is the Elector Primo, besides just a vicious dictator? Why is the Republic at war with the rest of the U.S., now known as The Colonies?
As the book progresses these are the very questions June begins to ask. The more she chases Day the more she wonders why she is doing so. The more she sees on the streets the more she questions what she has been told. While things may seem obvious to the reader, it is clear that June has been well protected from the truth via propaganda and location. She has never seen anything other than what the Elector wants her to see, but now that she has, it has become clear to her that what she has been told is not the truth.
I really enjoyed reading about Day and June. Both are extremely likable characters. They are at the right age to learn and grow and do something with that knowledge and growth. I especially appreciated that Day wasn’t the head of some well planned rebellion – he was just a very bright boy looking for a way to survive in a world that didn’t want him. June is a risk taker who has always challenged her boundaries. It makes sense that she would keep pushing at those edges as far as she is able. Neither of them is a rebel just for the heck of it – they are motivated to push against their respective cages by the events around them. Their very minor romance seemed natural – it would be a case of like calling to like. While they are each unique, well drawn individuals they are also at their core the same. It is no wonder that June’s potential lovers in her own ranks leave her cold while Day heats her blood; he is the only one that has a hope of truly understanding her.
While the book is not something new and breathtaking, the writing keeps you enthralled with the story. Lu has a clear, clean style that suits her tale very well. She is able to utilize every page to paint a picture of her world and the people who inhabit it. She allows the story to unfold naturally and doesn’t interrupt her prose to give us lectures or technology updates. It makes the story a quick, pleasant reading experience.
While this book lacks the sheer brilliance of Hunger Games, it is a strong, interesting story. I found myself reading it at one sitting, where my other books had barely interested me enough to read them for a chapter at a time. If you are a fan of Hunger Games, Divergent, or other dystopian teen thrillers, I would recommend picking up this book. I don’t think you will be disappointed.