by Marie Lu
SPEAK/Penguin books, 2011

Legend is the first in a young adult dystopian future trilogy. If this sounds familiar... well yes. It is very familiar. However, it is quite enjoyable if you want to read yet another story about orphaned teenagers fighting against the tyrannical government.

Day is a small-time, independent guerilla -- doing his best to harass the government by vandalizing military vehicles and picking the pockets of police and soldiers. Despite being only moderately successful, he is one of the major thorns left in the Republic's side, as they have been fairly successful in eliminating rebellion amongst the citizens. Day and his orphan sidekick are checking up on Day's family one day when the Plague Patrol move through their neighborhood, checking the residents for infection. They wait for the patrol to pass -- but they don't. They spend an inordinate amount of time checking Day's family, and when they finally finish they mark the door -- not with the red X of a quarantined home, but with a red asterisk. Day doesn't know what this means, but it can't be good.

June, on the other hand, is one of the Republic's best and brightest -- the only one to ever score a perfect 1500 on the citizen's Trial. She is in training to be a military leader, and while she does tend to get in trouble a lot everyone knows that she is one of the best students the Republic has -- physically, mentally, and in all-around ability. Her parents died when she was very young, and she is being raised by her older brother. He hints that he has something important to tell her, but that same day he is put out of commission by a mysterious accident.

June is given the top-priority mission of catching (or killing) Day, and when they finally meet up they find that they have important information to share about the current government and its propaganda. Saying much more would involve spoilers.

Overall, this is a good read. It is a fast-moving and entertaining book, without a lot of depth, but it is not lacking in any area either. One of the things that makes Legend worth reading is that it is just like The Hunger Games or Uglies/Pretties/Specials -- except without the Games or the Pretties. It is a straightforward story without any weird gimmicks (other than being set in a dystopian future America, of course) that keeps the reader engaged just on the basis of having likable characters and lots of adventure.

Legend is the first book in a trilogy. The next book is Prodigy, and the final book is Champion.

SBN-10: 014242207X
ISBN-13: 978-0142422076
Accelerated Reading level: 4.8