No one expected a 10-year-old to break out of prison like Day did. No one expected a 10-year-old to get a perfect Trial score like June did either. Future Los Angeles only educates the very brightest – the middling ones become drudge labor, the Trial failures are turned over to government prisons or research labs.
Now 14, June is bored with her military college classes and longs to be on active duty full-time like her older brother Metias. Her parents would be so proud of them both, if they were still living… When Metias is killed on a routine patrol, June is not sure she can keep on living, but duty to the Elector keeps her going.
Day moves along the fringes of underground society, stealing supplies to keep his family alive in the slums, even though they think he’s gone forever. Fleetingly captured on security cameras, Day’s exploits against government stations are becoming legendary, even though no one knows exactly who he is.
Another plague is stalking the poor areas of the city, and Day spies as his family’s house is marked with the infected-quarantine mark. Now, getting the plague suppressant for his brother is Day’s main concern – and that means infiltrating high-security hospital labs undetected.
As Day searches for the medicine, the police continue searching for Day. June is assigned to the case and takes to the streets in disguise, trying to capture this renegade before he becomes more of a folk-hero in the slums.
The more Day learns about this plague, the more worried he is for his family. The more June learns about Day, the more she questions the Republic’s actions.
Was Day really involved in Metias’s death? Why are the plagues so common in the City? Will June find answers in her brother’s journals or just more questions?
Leap into a gritty future adventure with Legend, recounted by Day and June in alternating chapters, first in a series.
978-0142422076 330 pages Ages 12 and up
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA
June is a 15 year-old war-ready prodigy in the future Republic of America, a perfect soldier-to-be, who grew up in the golden light of Los Angeles's richest district. Day, also 15, is a prodigy of another kind. He is from one of the city's poorest districts, and he's also the country's most wanted terrorist/criminal. June and Day could not have come from more contrasting origins, but their worlds are about to collide in a big way.
When Day's family is quarantined because of a breakout of the newest strain of plague to run through the L.A. slum areas, he needs to steal some plague cure quick. June's brother Metias, who seems to be the ultimate Republic soldier, is murdered at the hospital on the night that Day tries to swipe a few vials of the cure. Now, Day is the number-one suspect in the crime, and June is out to exact her revenge.
Soon, however, June and Day cross paths in a most unlikely way. An uneasy alliance, even a touch of romance develops, and June and Day start to uncover some horrifying truths about the Republic. Everyone, it seems, is a pawn in the Republic's game, from the poor dying of plague each season to the most loyal soldiers defending the land. Both June and Day have trust issues, and it's easy to see why considering the ever-shifting circumstances of their lives. They are opposite sides of the same coin, simultaneously the user and the used, in a society that believes they're both expendable.
Legend is terrifically violent. It's remarkable that Day lives through half of the torture and injury he endures. And the brutally creepy people surrounding June will make your skin crawl. Legend walks a very thin line between making its point and being gratuitous. But Day is so likable, somehow, a tough but essentially vulnerable boy who just wants to save his family, that the reader forgives the over-the-top moments of gore just to cheer for the upstart hero. June's loyalties are more wavering, so we're not sure what to make of her. Ultimately, she is also a victim of the government's cruelty, but you don't start to root for her until the very end of the book.
Legend is narrated by June and Day in alternating chapters. It's a well-managed device that gives the reader a look into what each is thinking without any encroaching sentimentality. Lu offers a few well-timed plot twists and an exciting climax that will leave the reader both sorry and satisfied. 336 pages 14 and up
Reviewed by: Stacy Nockowitz, Librarian, Ohio, USA
The year is 2130, and the Republic with its Elector Primo is now in control. The citizens of the different parts of the new Los Angeles must fight against two fronts - the colonies trying to destroy the regime and the terrible sickness that decimates the poorer sectors of this new nation.
June doesn't know about this struggle. She and her brother Matias live in a high rise, literally above all the chaos the Republic tries to hide.
Day lives a life of theft, deceit and invisibility. Lurking in the shadows of the poor sectors, he sees the lack of food and healthcare take the population into despair. June and Day's lives will emerge one fateful night that will send them both on a quest for revenge...
Marie Lu writes an excellent dystopia novels that fans of this genre will fly through.
Recommended by: Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas USA
Sequels: Prodigy; Champion
Read alikes: Divergent series by Veronica Roth; Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins; Ember in the Ashes Quartet by Sabaa Tahir