Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)Title:         Legend
Author:   Marie Lu
Genre:      Dystopia
Rating:     ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Disclaimer: The following review contains opinions and quotes from the book that might contain spoiler. Proceed at your own risk.


An ambitious book built with major flaws.

Dystopia is currently new generation’s genre. Though, under Sci-fi sub-genre, authors are hitching along its popularity. I, myself, am fond of reading books under this sub-genre thus reading this book is no wonder why I read this. In fact, Legend has been labeled as one of my future reads before it was released. However, liking a genre doesn’t suggest adoring all books under it.

Two contrasting worlds; two people alike. 
June Iparis, known for being Republic’s one of the wealthiest families, is groomed to be one of the best soldiers of the nation. Although parentless she is, she still has a brother to depend on—Metias. But in an unfortunate event, the world as if falls down to her when the only family left she has reportedly murdered by the prime suspect named Day. 
Day, Republic’s most wanted criminal, remains his statue with a mysterious profile. Known dead by his family, yet he’s living up his life for them. When he finds out that a member of his family has been infected with nation’s deadly virus, Plague, he has to cross devil’s den to have a cure. On the day he gets the cure, an incident happens that tends him to be tomorrow’s prime murderer.

June, who is holding grudge against his brother’s murderer, has to hunt down Day. June and Day are neck to neck outsmarting each other. But eventually, behind the murder of his brother, she finds out there is more story behind it that is likely untold.

I must admit that this book is easy read and tends reader to a nonstop flipping of pages. However, it never covers the fact that it has its own flaws.

Pork is pork but it could be cooked in many ways. Dystopia is dystopia but it could be pictured in many ways. Legend is a ride on to Dystopia’s popularity but it didn’t offer fresh story. Typical government with typical situation. I’m a little underwhelmed by the fact that Legend hasn’t created a signature of its own that it never able to get out from the shadow of other dystopian books.  Moreover, the book’s story is too much transparent that gives reader ideas of what would happen. In other words, the story is predictable. Day’s exclusion on passers list made me conjure one or two most possible assumption. It’s either his wealth status has something to with it and so because of his knowledge, he might be a leader for rebellion.

In addition, I also have the same concern with other readers: the two major characters are described as both flawless that, unfortunately, their point of views and approaches are as if owned by one person. Sad to say, Marie Lu failed to layout and differentiate her characters for this book. Since the book consists of two alternating point of views, neither of them is unidentifiable whose and whose story you’re already reading.

I find the pacing annoyingly slow even though it was action filled. Both characters were too distant for me to get into. There was something with the first part that acts to remind me that the characters are just fake and made of fiction. Perhaps, the characters’ perfection and strangeness might have something to do with it.

Finally, one of my major complains is the world building. Let me magnify it, it’s the test in the story that 10-year old children take up.

“[Someone] gets a perfect score—1500 points. No one’s ever gotten this—well, except for some kid a few years ago who the military made a goddy fuss over. Who knows what happens to someone with a score that high? Probably lots of money and power, yeah? You score between a 1450 and a 1499. Pat yourself on the back because you’ll get instant access to six years of high school and then four at the top universities in the Republic: Drake, Stanford, and Brenan…You squeak by with a score between 1000 and 1249. Congress bars you from high school. You join the poor, like my family…You fail. It’s almost always the slum-sector kids who fail. If you’re in this unlucky category, the Republic sends officials to your family’s home. They make your parents sign a contract giving the government full custody over you.”
Obviously, if the kid passes the trial, he will be assigned to the top universities and undergo a highly specialized training which will eventually suffice Republic’s purpose to serve the nation. If the government is really that clever, why use an intelligence test if they intend to sieve the next great people to serve the nation? Isn't appropriate if trial includes physical test or combat test since some are trained to become soldiers? I doubt actual combat just needs just pens and paper to fight. I doubt actual combat requires interviews and prompt answers to fight. Some children might be intelligent but it doesn't mean they are great at fighting, too. I doubt this thing makes sense to me unless the Republic is just up to creating an army of pure strategists and bunch of scientists. Those who fail the exam get experimented and get killed. My point, why depend the lives of those children on a test that isn't even accurate? This Trial thing is too shallow for me to put a life at stake.

From the last four sentences I quoted from Day’s POV above, if a kid fails he’ll join the poor like his family. The Republic will send officials to his family’s home. They will make his parents sign a contract giving the government full custody over him. Eventually, he will get killed and experimented. I wonder how his parents survive and other poor families in the slum sectors.

I know I was expecting but I’m pretty sure the book could have been better than this.

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