As I was returning “Silence” to the shelf, my gaze accidentally fell upon “BATMAN: Nightwalker” by Marie Lu.
Marie Lu… why did she seem familiar to me even before? The answer emerged after a brief rummage through my library.
The “Legend” trilogy. Neatly lined up and ready to be read.
Hmm… should I write a review of a trilogy by an author whose book about one of my favorite superheroes I recently read, and I had a quite positive impression of the work itself?
Challenge accepted! 🙂
“Legend” is, in fact, the first novel in the trilogy and also the debut title by author Marie Lu. The reception and impressions of this book (and the following two in the trilogy) were very positive. Both the audience and literary critics generally showed favor towards the new writer’s work. And there are rumors of a movie in the works. 🙂
The “young adult” category lost its meaning for me a long time ago (“This is mostly declared by individuals who won’t accept the fact that they aren’t 21 anymore” – note of the author’s subconscious), and exploring various interpretations on the internet, the conclusion is that it’s intended for ages 15 to 30, which older generations can comfortably read as well (“Just keep comforting yourself and burying your head in the sand, old man, you’re doing great” – note of the author’s subconscious).
Ahem… moving on…
“She’s a prodigy.
Born into an elite family, in the wealthiest sector. She was raised and trained for the highest rank in the Republic’s military.
He is Legend.
Born in the slums sector. He became the most cunning and sought-after criminal ever to appear in the Republic.
The military sends its Prodigy on a mission that, if successful, will elevate her to the stars.
All she has to do is catch Legend.
And bring him to justice.”
Epic announcement of an epic showdown… let’s see if the hype is justified…
The story is set in a dystopian future, perhaps 100-200 years ahead (at least that’s my impression). In the former United States, there’s now the Republic (where the novel takes place), which presents itself as an orderly and superior nation, and the Colonies, an inferior land full of traitors (according to Republic propaganda). The Republic has been governed for decades by dictator Elector Prime, who always managed to manipulate elections, allowing him to remain in power for a long time (My sarcastic subconscious was ready to make an inappropriate political comment, but it was immediately silenced – blogger’s note). Every Republic citizen must take the Trial at the age of 10 (a series of psychological, intellectual, and physical tests), and based on their scores, their future is determined. Whether they get prestigious universities and a lucrative career, a college and some middle-class administration job. But if they perform poorly on the tests (known in Serbian education as a “thin two”), they get sent to work camps for researching your imperfections (I think you get the idea what actually happens to people there).
And you complain about your college entrance exams being tough…😅
And then there’s also the division between rich and poor quarters. While poverty-stricken areas have the plague as a common occurrence (although the military claims to have it under control) and the cure for it costs a small fortune, and the streets are where survival skills come into play, the wealthy districts are peaceful, protected, and receive a yearly vaccine for plague prevention.
The prodigy from the earlier announcement is June Iparis. Beautiful, agile, talented, analytical, and highly intelligent, she has already made a name for herself during her studies. Everything in her life is by the book. Loyal to the Republic. A bright future and a successful career await her after graduation. She only has her older brother, Metias (a young and successful military commander), whom she loves deeply and greatly admires (her parents died in a traffic accident).
All in all, the kind of girl every guy dreams of.
On the other hand, from the slums district, there’s Daniel “Dan” Altan Wing. The most wanted criminal and a big headache for the Republic. No one knows what he looks like (he’s a master of disguise). He supposedly carries out all robberies and sabotage alone, and he doesn’t consider himself a member of the Patriots (the name for rebel units). He’s like a dystopian Robin Hood. He never kills opponents. Although he seems spontaneous and solves problems on the fly, he has an incredibly sharp eye for detail. He’s incredibly agile, cautious, cunning, and extremely intelligent, making it a mystery how he managed to fail the Trial.
Dan’s only ally and faithful companion is Tess, a street girl who provides him with great support in his operations. She has a mother and a younger and older brother. According to everyone, Dan’s dead (although only his older brother knows the truth, for security reasons, and Dan sends financial aid to his family through him to help them survive).
And one fateful night turns everything upside down. June learns that her brother was killed while guarding the hospital that held the plague vaccines. Desperately, Dan broke into the hospital to steal vials of the plague cure (which, however, weren’t in the hospital at that moment) and had a fatal encounter with Metias.
At that moment, Dan becomes the Republic’s top priority… and June, who is automatically enlisted in the military and decides on her own to infiltrate the slums and get close to her brother’s killer.
Their encounter, and what follows… that’s a special story that involves delving into the painful pasts of both Dan and June, as well as the Republic itself.
One thing to note (because it almost fooled me, too), even though a lot happens in the beginning of the book, the first 80 or so pages give the impression of a slow pace and may seem somewhat cliché and uninspiring (teenagers might say this as well). However, the introductory part merely sets the stage for everything that happens when the Prodigy and the Legend meet for the first time. That’s when the story picks up pace and we get to know our main characters even better.
What I liked is that the main characters are already well-developed, and we can truly understand the motives behind their decisions. Admittedly, we don’t have much information about the past of the United States (except for one detail related to Dan’s father and a locket that Dan always carries with him), but we have a clear (and disturbing) picture of the dystopian Republic.
The novel is written clearly and concisely. You can tell the author is young because (for now) the beginning of the trilogy doesn’t give the impression of excessive complexity, but that’s not a flaw for this novel at all. I’ve already mentioned that the main characters and their relationship are well-developed, as well as the image of the Republic itself (although I get the impression that the subsequent parts will further explain some important questions). The action is described dynamically and quite realistically.
All in all, a likable and entertaining novel about an imperfect and idealized America, with quite interesting characters. We’ll see what awaits us in the sequel. 🙂
Question for readers: Do you think this novel might describe the future of the United States?
TO BE CONTINUED…
(Originally reviewed: 18/12/2018)