BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Legend Trilogy: Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu

Legend seriesWhile production doesn’t seem to have started just yet, news that Marie Lu‘s bestselling dystopic trilogy is coming to a theater near you keeps resurfacing since CBS Films bought rights to Legend in 2011. That Lu has a much-hyped new series, The Young Elites, hitting shelves this fall, will surely add pressure to go celluloid.

Call me cynical (why, yes, I am, when it comes to Hollywood!), but before studio execs whitewash another ethnic Asian hero (in this case, hapa Asian Caucasian, although this hero is blond and blue-eyed – as if camera-ready? – albeit with distinct Asian features; Lu posts a photo of her inspiration on her website), I figured I had better get reading the original (or, in my case, stick in the ears). As for the aural incarnation, Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern are consistently persuasive as the two teen protagonists alternating viewpoints throughout the three-parter. They might have figured out how to say the same names the same way (really??!!) as not to loudly advertise that they are not connected in any way … but obviously, I (again!) seem to expect too much from (careless) audible producers.

Okay, so when there’s a series – and the whole thing is available – undoubtedly, I’ll binge … which doesn’t always make for good digestion. Legend, perhaps because it was new and fresh, was by far the best; I barely hit ‘pause.’ Prodigy made me wilt with too many ‘just wake-up-already-oh-it’s-a-bad-dream’ ramblings, and Champion‘s flip-flopping of who-to-trust-or-not made the eyeballs start getting stuck. After investing almost 30 hours, however, I had to make it to the absolute final track: ’twas endurance, June/Day style!

According to the official LegendtheSeries site, Lu “was first inspired to write Legend while watching Les Miserables one afternoon, and wondered how the relationship between a famous criminal vs. a prodigious detective might translate into a more modern story.” [Watch? What happened to read?] She moves her setting to a sinking Los Angeles of the future, in an America torn asunder by despotic corruption and desperately in need of true leadership.

Day, a 15-year-old boy of the slums forced into a life of crime to survive, is the Republic of America’s most wanted. June, also 15, is his elite counterpart born into privilege and power, an intellectual and military prodigy both. In trying to save his family from the raging plague by stealing hospital drugs, Day wounds June’s brother in order to escape. When June is shown Matias’ lifeless body hours later, she vows she will hunt down his killer. The two teens meet in a battle of wits, honor, and ultimately hope.

Now fighting side-by-side in Prodigy, June and Day have escaped Los Angeles leaving behind a growing body count to seek help in Las Vegas. They’re at the mercy of the Patriots, a rebel group determined to take down the Republic. The Patriot price is high: kill the new Elector and the Patriots will reunite Day with his last surviving family – his younger brother held captive by the Republic for their heinous medical experiments. To kill or not to kill …

And then comes Champion, in which Anden is not the enemy, the Senate needs a major clean-up, and Eden is not the one who’s dying. No matter how much June and Day should be together, guilt over too much death and destruction make these star-crossed lovers flip-flop like fish out of water. Of course, like the gasping aquatics, they can hardly breathe without each other. Oh, but the drama, the drama, not to mention they have what’s left of a country to save. Kids, those days!

For now, my curiosity is quelled and my eyeballs have even calmed. I’m relieved I’ll be well in-the-know when the filmic transformation arrives … something tells me, it’s definitely coming.

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2011, 2013, 2013


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