On Reading

"When you read a book, you don't just read, you journey. This is why at first, one is always regretful upon nearing the last page, thinking that it all ends there. But it is when we look into our minds after reading that we find the new world we discovered and with dawning realization see the truth of the matter:
...that the journey never ends."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

See, once in a while there comes a book that will keep you up at night, that will invade your dreams, that will keep you thinking even in your waking hours until you finish it and tell the world what you thought of it. And this has been my relationship with the Legend series. 

Now that that’s out of the way, I have to admit that one of my favorite things is being pleasantly surprised about how good a book is. I picked up Legend from the library thinking it’ll probably be stiff and technical, given that it’s filed under dystopian/sci fiction. And boy, was I wrong. Given how taken I am with this book and the series, do forgive me if this’ll probably look a bit different from how I usually review books. (I’m thinking this’ll probably look more like an essay of random thoughts than a review, but oh well.) Okay, enough with my ranting and onto the good stuff. 

Legend is one of the best series in YA fiction that I’ve read in a while. Granted, the themes of dystopia are recurring, the oppression of the people and the tight hold of the ruling power, these were all shown in Legend, as in many other dystopian novels. However, what set this book apart is the characters’ switching perspectives in every chapter, which was done elegantly and believably. I mean, I could really tell who was speaking just through the words used in the chapter. (And I know, I know, the chapter starts with the character’s name on top and the font colors alternate as well, but really. Even without those, I’m sure I could’ve still identified whose chapter it was.) And as in some other books, the font colors and faces switch as well, which helps in distinguishing one chapter from the other. (I’m a big fan of books with other font colors besides black so that was an immediate plus for me.)

The plot. Oh my gosh, the plot. Some people say that what’s bad about this book is that it’s predictable and not really different from the plot lines of other dystopian novels. Well, I don’t know if I just haven’t read enough of these dystopian books or what, but this was not the case for me. Like I said, the themes were recurrent, yes, but the plot line was definitely not predictable. I mean, whoa. This book was explosive. I’m going to say that this explosiveness is associated with the fast pacing of the book. So much stuff was tightly packed in 300 or so pages and all these happenings were thrown around me and I couldn’t stop reading for fear that if I close the book things would still happen without me knowing it. You know one thing, and then it turns out they’re all lies and fantasies after a few chapters. This book just seriously kept punching you in the gut with happenings. 

You’d think that would be all. But no, what endeared this book to me the most were the characters, who were relatable and lovable and unforgettable altogether. And I mean, all of them, even Commander Jameson. I mean, you don’t particularly like them, but they’re such believable and evil villains who help the plot go along so you can’t really wish them gone. And while I know in myself that I’m someone who loathes the person who might be the potential third point to a love triangle, I surprised myself by not hating Tess. It wasn’t anything on her own, really, I mean yeah, she’s gentle and nice, but it has more to do with how I sympathize for Day. I was just really glad that he had someone in those years to look out for him when he had no one and was alone in looking out for his family. 

As for the two main protagonists, can I just say that I love them both to their cores? Because I do, really. I’m amazed because I started off with this book not knowing that the main characters were going to be a boy and a girl, I thought they would both be boys who fight side by side and have these awesome action scenes. Turns out they’re boy and girl, and I surprised myself by realizing that even if there wasn’t any romance between them, I still would’ve loved the book. But Marie Lu gives it to me as a bonus, and so now I am gushing and rolling on the floor thinking about this book. And what was so great about these two, was that they meet each other only at like, the half of the book, and I was perfectly okay with that, because by then they were so distinguished in my head as two separate and awesome characters in their own rights. Day, being the most wanted criminal in the Republic (which may not be something to be proud of, but you have to admit, for him to be that famous at 15, that’s just something else. And come on, scaling buildings in short seconds? Jumping from two, three story buildings and surviving? Day is cool. End of discussion.) and June being the darling prodigy of the Republic. I admit I had quite an issue with Day having long hair, and their age seemed a bit unreasonable to me, but hey, it’s the future right? (Maybe teenagers there get forced to mature early due to circumstances. *shrugs*) But aside from that, these two characters just, complement and strengthen each other. They each had their own share of sufferings, and both didn’t have it easy, and I admire their strengths despite everything. June, who is just an absolute genius and who may have been stiff in the beginning, has developed into a kinder, gentler person who’s open-minded and not easily strayed. Day, who has been hardened by the circumstances he’s had in life, but develops the kind of unwavering strength one needs to survive. Apart, they’re amazing, but together they’re unstoppable and greatness combined. 

Legend surprised me by how much managed to happen in such a short span of time. In 300 or so pages, there’s action, there’re awesome character developments, there’s romance that’s just right and not overpowering, there’s an amazing plot line, there’re painful deaths, and there’re lessons learned. Needless to say, the Legend series has become one of my favorite books of all time.

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