My 2 cents:
You have about six weeks to read Marie Lu's breakout debut novel LEGEND, before the sequel, PRODIGY, is released January 29, 2013. Temple Hill Entertainment (Twilight) and CBS Films bought movie rights to LEGEND, and there is constant cyber-talk about which actors will play which characters. Will Kristen Stewart play June? Who will play Day, an Asian-Mongolian-Caucasian teen boy? Will Marie Lu get her wish of Ben Barnes portraying June's brother, Metias? Who will play Commander Jameson? Angelina Jolie? Or Meryl Streep?
Enough talk about the movie that is soon to be in the making. Let's talk about the novel. First, no question, similarities abound between Legend and Hunger Games. Like Suzanne Collins, Lu sets her novel somewhere in North America's future. Both Day and June (Lu's central characters) live in the “Republic of America,” which is in Los Angeles, California, and is at war with the Colonies, the rest of the former United States, apparently. The Patriots are rebels fighting against the Republic within the Republic of America (California). Like Katniss, Day is young, smart, extremely poor and has lost his father to death. Like Katniss, Day has a younger sibling (Eden) he is working to protect. Stealing a cure for Eden's plague pits Day against Metias, June's older brother. June – privileged, beautiful and brilliant - becomes Day's arch-enemy when the robbery goes wrong, and Metias is murdered. In her quest to find Day, June makes a series of startling, profound discoveries about the Republic and her family, as life intertwines her path with Day's in unexpected, gripping, can't-put-this-book-down ways. I actually started reading Legend, looked down, saw I was on page 118, and couldn't remember how much time had passed since I picked up the book. It was that engrossing.
However, my 12-year-old daughter found some parts disturbing. The interrogation scenes are unpleasant and upsetting, and I skipped over those parts, as well. Luckily, there were only a few of those scenes, and I suppose they serve the purpose of showing how cruel governing officials can be. Still, readers with sensitive hearts will find those sections difficult to read, along with June and Day's discoveries about the plague. Some readers will wonder if the book is set in the time period after the Second Coming of Christ. Particularly with all the references to war, rumblings of war, dark and light, wealth and poverty, and extreme weather – five hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes – in one year's time in Los Angeles alone.
And yet, I find the central theme of the book is love. How can that be, you ask? Fair question. Three words, well clues, in way of an answer: Tess, John and family. Not to mention the novel's central characters, Day and June, who take turns telling their story in first-person narrative, chapter by captivating chapter.
WORTH YOUR TIME: Yes, if you're high-school age or older, and you don't get squeamish at interrogation scenes.