Legend, by Marie Lu, is about a post-apocalyptic world in which "The Republic" has taken over the area that is now Los Angeles and they are battling with the neighboring "Colonies" and "Patriots." In the land of the Republic, a mysterious plague has swept sectors of the society, and kids take a "Trial" test at thirteen in order to determine what their life's career will be.
The novel follows two main characters: June, a Republic prodigy who scored a perfect 1500 on her Trial, and Day, a maverick who works alone to dupe the Republic and steal plague cures for his infected family. Day kills June's brother and it becomes her goal, as a Republic soldier, to bring him down.
Overall, I wasn't a huge fan of the book. The plot line was fast-paced and interesting, but the writing itself left something to be desired.
It did make me think a lot though - in a "Lessons that Change Writers" conference with ELA guru Nancie Atwell that I attended last week, she emphasized the importance of noting the difference between "inspiration" and "plagiarism". I found it very interesting that, right after hearing that, the author of this book admits that the idea for the novel was born out of "watching Les Miserables one afternoon and wondering how the relationship between a famous criminal and a prodigious detective might translate into a more modern story". Inspiration at its finest!
However, I did feel like there were just WAY too many parallels between this and other recent post-apocalyptic novels. For instance, the "Trial" test is so smackingly similar to the test in Veronica Roth's Divergent, which places teens in a faction. Then, there's the fact that those who don't do well on the Trial are sent to labor camps to work - very much the same idea as is presented in Ally Condie's Matched for those who seem intellectually less desirable. The plague in Legend also reminded me of the Matched Trilogy, specifically the final installment, Reached, in which the characters have found "The Cure".
The next novel in this series is Prodigy, and I know I'll read it because I want to know what happens to the characters.