When I can find extra moments, there is always a list of books I want to read. Some I anticipate for months, some for years before I find the time to get to them, and some of them live up to the hype and some don’t. Leisure Literature is a book review column that details my thoughts on my recent readings.
This year, I attended public school for the first time and was incredibly disappointed. We read a whopping total of four books throughout the entire year. In response, I have pledged to read fifty books of all varieties this summer. I have already been through a few, which I have chosen not to write about here, but Legend by Marie Lu was so good that I feel as if I have to record my feelings about it.
What made this book so great is its incredible character-driven nature, paired with a stunning plot. I knew it was going to be good when I was already asking lots of questions and in love with the characters by page 11. Day and June are both very clever, resourceful, and in the book’s own words, perceptive, and it’s such a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the fact that they never display a superiority complex or show any intention to suppress their cleverness’ full potential, but own the fact that they are smart and use it to their every advantage. As a result, throughout the book, they keep uncovering the things they don’t know, and the knowing reader is never waiting for Day or June to figure out ‘what’s next’. What astonished me is that the plot always kept going, even after they make the supposed biggest discovery at that plot point. This made the whole story very realistic and the characters more life-like, since they seem as intelligent as people are in real life.
Some high points:
- Day is just straight-up flirtatious, which gives both him and the author an attractive boldness.
- The moment and situation in which Day and June first meet was triumphantly impressive; it just made me feel very joyful.
- Even though the protagonists are very smart, have many tools, and plenty of information, the antagonist still seems insurmountable. I think this is notable because it is often times the case in books of this type that the protagonists are disadvantaged in some way, which gives the antagonists their grip over the protagonists, but in Legend, they have the resources and the antagonists still feel impossible to get.
- It made me cry! Physically cry–at a certain event occurring during the climax of the book. I think that’s impressive.
Some low points:
- Some of it was predictable. I guessed three major reveals before they happened (which I will not detail for the sake of spoilers). Given, I didn’t guess all of it, but I could anticipate the general point.
- I don’t know how to feel about intelligence and capability being measured in a test, and especially that a perfect score represents extraordinariness. At any rate, the author had to create some device to quantify this, and it did the job solidly.
- Three tropes I didn’t enjoy were the Jameson character (especially the gender), the Kaede character, and the government/power factions and the question of the ambiguous goodness/evilness. This falls in with The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Red Queen, and so on, but at least this was a character-driven book, so the faults in the plot are outshined. The redeeming attribute of the factions is the apparent historical basis, which is intriguing, but was not discussed a lot in book one.
- Although I understand their age for the sake of the points about their extreme intelligence, I think Day and June’s age dampens the realness of the romance in the book; they seem young.
A couple of personal notes:
- Even though Day and June are both endearing, I was drawn to John the most and his older brotherly character. Perhaps I liked him that much only because his personality reminded me of a friend of mine with the same name, but altogether he was still my favorite.
- There was a lot of physical wounding in the book, but to my surprise, it was effective and felt necessary to the setting. I like how the author didn’t leave it out for the sake of complications, yet didn’t add it in light-handedly or carelessly. It was a lot but it was handled well. The only thing is I’m unsure about the rate of healing that happens.
In all, Legend had me recommending it before I finished it, reading it straight through without stopping, and raving about how good it was afterwards. It is a captivating read and I highly recommend it.
Strangely enough, I’m still debating whether to continue reading the trilogy, since the first book is a lot to live up to, and the conflicts implied by the first book don’t seem as interesting, but at least Legend looks to be a bought-book on my shelf, a high honor.