“My mother thinks I’m dead.”
Day is a fifteen-year-old futuristic Robin Hood of sorts, only he’s also a physical super freak. He steals from the rich, screws with his totalitarian government, flits through the beswamped LA like a shadow, and scales buildings in five seconds or some crap. You know, the usual. June is a fifteen-year-old prodigy whose Holmesian eye for detail and Catwoman like physical prowess has her finishing her collegiate studies and ready to serve her Republic several years early. When June’s brother, a decorated Republic officer, is murdered she is enlisted to hunt down her brother’s killer: the prodigiously elusive Day.
I once stated that I wouldn’t read Marie Lu‘s Legend (Putnam Juvenile 2012) because the audiobook was so horrible I had to abandon it. The first thirty or so page were pretty painful because I kept hearing June’s narrator in my head, with all the obnoxious, self-satisfied smugness she injected into June’s narrative. However, once I got past those first thirty pages my own version of June was able to pop into my head and I was a lot happier. June is still kind of obnoxious, but this book is pretty enjoyable.
June and Day are both flawed but likable characters. June is annoying, there’s no way around it, but wouldn’t you be annoying if you were the best at everything you do to the nth degree? As the only person in existence with a perfect Trial score, she has a nice swath cut for her to a dazzling career, something which apparently, in her mind, means she can flout rules and do what she wants. She is conceited and an utter snob, but she also shows the ability to grow and develop (perhaps a bit too easily, but oh well). She is also so insanely good at what she does that you can’t help but enjoy hanging on for the ride while she bloodhounds Day.
Day, on the other hand, is a foil to June’s privileged existence – he grew up in the slums, and was able to slip out of a government facility to live on the streets after failing his Trial despite preternatural physical and intellectual abilities. Even though he reads as a bit of a criminal for the people stock character, he is still a character that you can get behind – his dedication to his family and loyalty to loved ones make him sympathetic, so that it’s hard not to root for him.
The romance between Day and June is 100% predictable, but understandable – they are the biggest superfreaks in the land, so how could they not want to make out? Duh. I will admit that I didn’t totally buy June being so willing to fool around while she believed Day to be her brother’s murderer, but whatever.
The world building is intriguing but spotty. It’s evident that there was some sort of civil war that allowed the Republic to break off from the United States and subsequently subdue any history of that past union, but there isn’t much information as to how or why. This makes sense, since both the narrators are in the dark in that respect. It also seems that our current path of environmental destruction has eviscerated a lot of the world, if LA having constant hurricanes and being perpetually flooded is any indication. I wish all of that history could have been a bit more fleshed out, but I assume that will be done in subsequent installments. However, every time I read the word “jumbotron” I cringed a little. Jumbotron? Really? That’s the best word for a giant screen you can come up with?
For what it is, this book is good: it’s a cinematic, fast-paced plot-based book about two exceptional kids from different backgrounds cat and mousing their ways onto the same path. The writing is no great shakes (inspired prose is not Lu’s strong suit) and there isn’t much of substance beyond the fun story, but it is that: a fun story. I’ll be reading the sequel, Prodigy, that is for darn sure.
For music, I chose Black Breath’s “Virus.” These guys are one of my favorite semi-local bunch of headbangers, and the connection to the viral spread of misinformation is a perfect fit for this book.