The plotting of Legend follows a pretty standard dystopian outline, but, in Prodigy, Marie Lu really does something different. The first book set the pieces perfectly for her to branch out. Without spoilers, I really cannot tell you much specifically about what is awesome, but just believe me that it is. The ending leaves the plot poised to be completely epic in the next book, but I hope Lu is cutthroat enough to do what she needs to do, because that's where a lot of young adult authors miss the mark in dystopian novels.
Where June spent most of Legend being an annoyingly perfect, almost robotic, girl, completely devoted to her role in the Republic, she really develops in Prodigy. Torn between her childhood leanings and her new alliances, June has to learn how to evaluate the world on her own, no longer accepting what other people tell her to be true. Smart as she is, she has to learn about independent thinking. Readers will find June much more sympathetic and likable in Prodigy. Day, of course, we all loved from the beginning. In some ways, I don't think I like him as much now, but in others he's even better. Where Day is practically perfect in Legend, the reader now gets to see more of his flaws, giving him depth and perhaps ultimately making him more admirable.
The budding relationship between June and Day, thankfully, does not become a huge focus of the plot. Lu does capture both their strong feelings for one another (or how strong they think they are) and the insecurity of their relationship. She stresses how little they've known each other, and how their mutual trust suffers as a result. Lu does introduce a love triangle or two (love square?), and I hope she uses this wisely.
For those who like their dystopian novels full of explosions, I have good news for you. There are fist fights, chase scenes, bombings, jumps off of high objects, and even aerial battles. Lu does a really nice job with her action scenes, keeping them tense and exciting. Also, I never felt confused about what she was describing, which can be tricky to accomplish. And was that a reference to Joss Whedon there towards the end? I hope so.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The only real detractor for the Legend series remains the youth of the protagonists. I know I complained about this in my review for Legend, but it really does bear reiterating. Both Day and June are 15, but they are brilliant, gorgeous, strong, and respected by all. Now, a prodigy can certainly be clever than adults, but I really question both of them being incredibly gorgeous on top of that. Seriously, just take a moment and think back to your yearbook from freshman year of high school, or, even better, go look at it. Do any of those teens look model perfect at all times and anywhere near capable of taking on the Republic? Shouldn't at least one of them suffer from acne?
I also question their incredible physical abilities. At 15, odds are, they wouldn't even be done growing yet, and they're not at their physical peak. I mean, at one point, June jumps onto a door knob and from their onto the top of a door as it opens without anyone noticing. Unless she's secretly a member of the X-Men with cat powers, I just cannot buy that. As for the respect, well, even as a prodigy, I really do not see everyone in a country rallying behind 15 year old rebels. At most, they would be cute figureheads, not viewed as actual leaders. Katniss, for example, powerful though she is at 16, she doesn't lead the revolution; she just serves as a symbol of it. The story would make so much more sense with main characters in the range of 18 to 20, and every person I talked to said that they also kept forgetting that Day and June were so young. Obviously, that can't be changed now, but how about we make it more realistic by giving them some pimples or something?
The Final Verdict:
Marie Lu's Legend series is an excellent choice for readers looking for an action-packed dystopian novel. After that ending, I am pretty much desperate to read the next book, which is poised to be even better!