It has been very long since I have read a gripping book series and it’s been even longer since I felt a new hope even after I completed reading the entire series. The ‘Legend’ series has inspired me in so many ways. This is my glowing review to the incredibly fantastic Marie Lu.
On the Champion cover we have the following words by Wyck Godfrey, producer of ‘The Twilight Saga’,
“Blows the socks off Hunger Games”
Though I don’t completely agree with Wyck Godfrey, as for me, ‘The Hunger Games’ will be the best dystopian book series ever, ‘The Legend’ book series comes a close second.
To begin with, all the three books in the trilogy have insanely creative covers, designed by Lori Thorn. All the three are connected to each other, in that they begin where the previous book ends, all three are written in two different perspectives of our leading protagonists, June Iparis and Daniel Altan Wing a.k.a Day. Marie Lu, the author of this amazing series, has even gone ahead and chosen two different fonts for each character, even having a coloured one for Day’s character in the first book, Legend.
My personal reason for liking Legend was that the central characters really hit you. You are literally sucked into their big bad world of the Republic of America.
It is 2054*. The United States of America, as we know it today, no longer exists. It is divided into the ‘Republic of America’ and ‘The Colonies’. Antarctica has been colonized and is among one of the richest, most powerful and progressive countries of the world.
(If you haven’t read the series, then a fair word of warnings. LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD)
Children are subjected to Trails, a mix of physical and intellectual tests to determine their future course. Only two children receive the highest scores- 1000/1000. The Republic, where our protagonists reside, makes June Iparis retake the test. She attains the perfect score yet again. She is hailed as a Prodigy for the Republic, completing school early and training to join the military.
On the other side, Daniel Altan Wing scores 1000/1000 but he is not hailed as prodigy. My theory is that he belongs to the poorer sections of the society and is hence taken in for experimentation. During this course of experiments, his eye and knee are damaged. Thinking of him as dead, he is left to rot in the laboratory basement, from where our hero makes his escape. He doesn’t return to his family but becomes their fairy godmother, helping them whenever he can and destroying the Republic with his superior intellect.
Daniel adopts the street name ‘Day’ and that is how he is introduced to us.
Legend dives into how June and Day meet, the prodigy and the criminal and what happens there after. It makes for a very interesting read. It throws light on how the poor people live in the streets or in their ramshackling houses. It describes the deepest misdeeds of the Republic.
Action packed with Lu’s distinct style of writing and full of fascinating side characters, Legend is a thrill of a ride.
The ride continues with Prodigy, the next book, we see June and Day being taken in by the Patriots who have always been against the Republic.
They agree to help Patriots carry out their big plan of assassinating Anden, the new Elector-Primo. (The Elector-Primo is akin to our Prime Minister) It is an elaborate book, detailing the journey of both June and Day as they are forced to acknowledge their feelings towards each other and their role in Anden’s assassination attempt which leads them to two different paths.
The climax of Prodigy is stunning, when we realize that the Patriots were Republicans in disguise who wish Anden dead. We never know who the real Patriots were but it all ends nicely with an incredible twist- revealing Day’s illness- caused by the Republic experimentation and how he has numbered days to live. What is the result? Day ends up pushing June away from him and we are now waiting to get our hands on the final book of the trilogy, Champion.
Champion begins with Day attempting to forget June and the Republic and the Colonies on the brink of a peace treaty.
But a deadly plague, the one which kick started the events in Legend, is back and is threatening the temporary peace. Here, we get to really see Anden, the new Elector-Primo in action. His dialogues with both June and Day are electric and in between all this, I actually wondered how the fate of a country rests in the hands of three youngsters, two of them being teenagers. It is a very remarkable prospect. Could this really happen in the future? I have no doubt that it will.
Coming back to Champion, the book excels in throwing twists at every turn and Marie Lu excels in tying up everything neatly. I have already given way too many spoilers so I will try to refrain from telling the plot in detail, as I feel Champion really deserves to be read. A fitting finale to the amazing Legend, CHAMPION is a Champion in itself.
Go read this fantastic series!
If you do not mind spoilers or like to read knowing the story before hand, or have already read the series then read ahead for my special observations.
All of these take place in the final book, Champion.
- Day’s speech to the people alongside the Chancellor of the Colonies and his subsequent escape was thrillingly explained. I could picture it perfectly.
- June’s connection to the deadly plague, the Colonies tampering with her system; it all tied up tidily.
- Antarctica: I was floored! The entire ‘Daily Score’, ‘Cumulative Score’ and ‘Level’ system was brilliant! I also like reading about how countries co-ordinate and bargain during times of war, Anden asking for Antarctica’s help with the war against the Colonies and Antarctica laying down conditions.
- The Titles and Positions were supremely intellectual. ‘Elector-Primo’ and ‘Princeps-Elects’
- June and Anden’s relationship. It was a nice touch, having another suitor for June. And Tess pining for Day.
- Day’s moral dilemma. How to love the girl who got his family killed? The ethical and moral ramifications were portrayed vividly by Lu. Kudos!
- We never know why Daniel was not hailed as a prodigy despite attaining the unachievable perfect score. He was never given a retest like June Iparis. He was lied to, given a fake score card and taken for experimentation. Another mystery is their experimentation. Was day treated differently as he had received the perfect score? And how did the Republic not notice him missing? Did they even achieve anything through the experiments? They left Day to suffer through the bad knee and eye (of course, they had thought that Day had died).
- I thought there was a whole theory behind June and Day’s score on the Trails and hailing one as a Prodigy and preparing her for the same and leading the other to become a Legend, the best and the smartest criminal. I was under the impression that the Republic must have hatched an elaborate scheme to get these two to face off each other. Sadly, that didn’t turn out to be true.
- Commander Jameson is a cold, cruel and cunning villain. I liked her as the antagonist but somehow her words to June, “Little Iparis, how much you remind me of myself at your age,” confused me. Again, it misled me. I thought that there would be a back story on Commander Jameson’s childhood or maybe some connection between her and June which would reflect on this statement which is said more than once in varied ways by Commander Jameson.
- Day’s dad. He was the biggest mystery. How did he die? Why did he suddenly leave? Where did he get that coin of the former U.S.A? Where were all the other treasures stored? Total mystery.
- Another thing which hit me hard was Day’s retrograde amnesia. He remembered the death of his family but not the people who caused it, namely June, Commander Jameson and Thomas. How? Does the brain protect itself that way? And what about John, Day’s elder brother? He sacrificed himself for Day when June helped Day escape his own execution. Day remembers John’s death but doesn’t recollect June who was his savior. It seems a bit weird to me. But it did add a sweet twist to the story which led to a sweeter end.
Wishful Thinking (Would like to read more about)
- I wanted more of Anden. I really liked him. Marie Lu painted a striking picture. I wouldn’t have minded a part of the novel from his point of view. Or maybe a novella in the future?
- Does Tess fall in love? More importantly, does she fall out of love with Day? What about the time when June makes her difficult decision of letting Day go? Did Tess, Eden and Anden support her?
- What about ten years later, when June encounters Eden and Day, does Eden not recognize her? (I remember about the eyes, still.)
- I would have liked to read more about the dreaded Plague and how were the Republic both creating and destroying it. What part did Eden actually play in it?
- The Colonies and their governing systems really intrigued me. I would definitely be interested in knowing more.
In conclusion, I completely back the ‘New York Journal of Books’ when they say-
“Clear your calendar to allow yourself the luxury of reading this book in one or two sittings. You will be shaken.”