I actually read this about two weeks ago, and I almost didn’t even bother to review it, but I tend to not put any books back on the shelf until I’m finished with them. And I’m not finished with a book until I review it.
I have gained some interesting blogging habits, but they seem to be working out.
In Marie Lu’s Legend, two teenagers get caught up in a government scheme when one is framed for the murder of the other’s elder brother. In this dystopian series, children in The Republic are tested on their tenth birthday. Those who pass are placed into their assigned futures; those who fail essentially disappear. But there is something wrong with this system, and June and Day are the ones who are going to figure it out.
I know I joke about my summaries, but that might as well have been the plot for the entire series.
I had to make myself write this review. Legend wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. Even then, I don’t know what I was looking for from Legend.
The plot of this book, which is to find Day and try him for crimes against The Republic, is small things in the grand scheme of the series, but it’s a great opening. The series starts off very black and white: Day flunked his test; June was a prodigy; they’re both from different social classes. The more you read though, the deeper it gets.
Still, I’m not sure that I want to continue with the series. The excerpt of the next book seemed to be more interested in the romance, but I’m not here for teenage romances anymore. I want to know who killed Metias, why The Republic seceded, what started the war, and what happened with Day’s test? These things are pressing and necessary. I’ll care about June and Day later.
I feel like there was an absence of culture. Like I couldn’t place who I was supposed to match them to in modern day times, or figure out what these people had become. There were no traditions, there were no secondary languages, and everything seemed to be based solely on class. They had almost become culture-less to me. They were ultimately defined by the circumstances they were put in, and enhanced by the ideas that I had placed on them. I know that that’s par the course for fiction, but I didn’t like being so aware of it.
My exposure to Asian American writers so far have been Kevin Kwan and Ahmed Saladin, and both of their series are majorly set in Asian countries. I thought that Marie Lu’s Legend series would be the first time that I would come across Asian American characters in what used to be American countries. So I went in thinking that majority of the characters will be Asian, like in East of West, only to find out that some of these characters are half-Asian at best.
And, to be honest, I understand why they’re more half-Asian when one considers the character descriptions, but I come from a culture of anime and K-dramas, so white hair on Asian kids is an everyday thing for me.
It was jarring, but it didn’t overtake the plot. I also wondered how I was supposed to know that these characters were Asian American. Kevin Kwan didn’t need to use many physical descriptives, and Ahmed Saladin focused on Middle Easterners. So, in my head, I was thinking that these were Asian American characters only because I knew the author to be Asian American herself, but it wasn’t completely matching up with what was being described in the book.
I would recommend Legend because the overall plot is intriguing, but not much else about it would make me want to continue the series. June and Day are interesting, but what happens to their families is predictable. Especially Day’s brother: Lu would not stop telling us how much Day and John looked alike, so it wasn’t hard to guess what would happen.
Ultimately, I think I’ll always feel weird about this book because my issues with it are not things that I feel confident talking about, but I still think that they should be addressed. It doesn’t help that I had just seen a tweet by this very same author stating the consequences of writing Asian American characters (like her) as opposed to writing non-Asian American characters (not like her). I totally understood where she was coming from, but you can see that struggle in Legend.
Read Legend. It’s honestly a good book, and I’m sure the rest of the series satisfies all of the opened up plot points. I just don’t see myself rushing to finish it anytime soon.
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