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Thursday, January 9, 2014

DNF Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Release Date: Nov. 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 234
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. 

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Happy New Year, Wastepaper Prose faithful. I hope your holidays were wonderful and you’re getting back in the swing of regular life. My New Year’s Resolution is to not drop off the face of the blogging earth for four (five?) months this year. With the teary-eyed reunion out of the way, let’s move on to Legend.

This novel marks the first time I’ve started a book for Wastepaper Prose that I just could not finish. While the novel isn’t without its merits, it has a few glaring issues that cause it to commit the cardinal sin: I never once cared about the characters or what happened to them.

All of the novel’s problems boil down to its flagrant violation of the “Show, Don’t Tell” rule.  The problem with Day is that we are told that this washout is the most effective and badass freedom fighter/terrorist around. We’re told about these daring, impossible raids that’s he’s completed, often with just a sentence devoted to them. Then, when we finally see him in action, he is almost killed due to an awful, impulsive plan (though even calling it a “plan” seems generous) that I can’t for a second believe was dreamt up by the same guy we’ve heard about for the previous 40 pages.

The exploits we’re told about require intricate planning, patience, and and understanding of risk versus reward. All we see is a panicked kid whose only savings grace is a bunch of soldiers who make Stormtroopers look like deadeyes. He’s also doing all of this, apparently, for his family, who I think actually had lines in one scene in the half of the book I read. But we’re told they’re really good people and Day cares, so apparently we’re expected to, also.

June’s issues are just as problematic. We meet her for the first time after she’s done something reckless. Again, we’re told about her boredom, reckless streak, and genius (another infuriating choice: wading through three paragraphs about the various Trial scores when just saying June is the only one to get a perfect score would suffice). While meeting June during her building climbing incident would have been exciting, we just see her get scolded for it, which is not. However, the real problem with June is her relationship with her brother.

We get a generous two scenes of them interacting, but seeing her brother smile once and being told about that time he fed her an orange doesn’t make me care about him, believe he’s a great brother, or even buy into their relationship. Then I’m asked to care and feel June’s pain when he dies. If I didn’t believe in their relationship, how am I supposed to believe in or care about her grief?

While I wasn’t emotionally invested in the book, parts of the plot showed promise. I finally had enough when the two leads started, predictably, worrying about whether or not to kiss, but despite some cliche plot points, there seemed to be a few interesting mysteries developing. The additions of new plot points or mysteries were paced well and the few action scenes I read were rather exciting.

The book feels like it should be a sequel. There’s a lot of backstory and world building that should have been done prior to the first scene. A prequel would’ve let the world, the characters, and their relationships unfold believably. I’d be invested. The few scenes of the novel where I didn’t feel like I was just wading through paragraph after paragraph of exposition were well done. I believe the author could have told the story well if it had been set up properly. Instead of being shown a believable world, I was just told how things are and expected to care. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

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