For me, Legend was a fast-paced, entertaining novel, but not a particularly good novel. I thought this was something like an action movie—great in the moment, but doesn’t make a strong impression or really do well under close scrutiny. There are a lot of dystopian novels in the world, and unfortunately, I think this is more or less the same as the rest, just with a different first impression.
Like many dystopian societies, the world Marie Lu creates in Legend doesn’t really have enough of a foundation. She throws out these terms, but doesn’t make the setting believable. In the former United States of America, there’s the Republic and the Colonies, which are at war. There’s some kind of plague, and at one point, it’s mentioned that there were a lot of volcano eruptions. And…that’s it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, dystopia without world-building is like a car without wheels. It just doesn’t work.
And then we have the two narrating protagonists, Day and June. I think they’re nice kids. The story from their perspectives was easy to read and follow along with, and as characters, they’re just fine. Except for the fact that they’re complete Mary Sues, the both of them. Both of them are The Most Special Of All The Special. Super agile, super strong, super intelligent, super crafty, super super super. Both Day and June were good at anything and everything, and at 15 years old basically make every single adult in the world look like a lobotomized gorilla. How convenient!
And then, naturally, there’s this borderline instalove situation we have going on. The L-word isn’t used, but comments like “I’ve just met you, but I feel like I know you so well!” were liberally sprinkled throughout the text. Gross. Oh, and remember: these people are freaking 15. I’m sorry, but no.
I have every reason in the world to dislike Legend (as you can see). It’s not very good, to be honest. It’s full of overused tropes and obvious details. It’s also extremely vague in terms of how the heck did this society even come into existence—the most important question of all, if you ask me. I don’t know why this book works as well as it does.
As much as I’m not impressed with Lu’s overall efforts here, I think she’s extremely good at writing a compelling piece of fiction. Legend is an extremely easy read, and it’s hard to put down. I recognized flaws while I was reading, but still found myself enjoying the bigger picture. The action movie quality this book possesses makes it hard to grow bored or become completely dissatisfied with.
Legend is a so-so book that I still managed to enjoy, perhaps in spite of myself. Since it’s Marie Lu’s debut, I’m hoping future books in the series will show improvement. In any case, I found this book to be entertaining, but hardly worthwhile on an intellectual level.