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December 24, 2013
Read this YA Book If…
Legend: Hunter and Hunted
by Erin Cowles

Why yes, I am reviewing another dystopian trilogy this month. Is it that obvious I'm currently number 83 out of 210 on my library's waiting list for Veronica Roth's Allegiant?

If you are also looking for a dystopian world to slip into while you wait your turn, I strongly recommend Marie Lu's Legend trilogy. In a market saturated with dystopias, this is my favorite since The Hunger Games.

Lu gained her inspiration for the series by watching Les Miserables. The dynamic between the criminal Valjean and the officer assigned to track him down intrigued her. She decided to play with that dynamic in a futuristic context.

Legend, the resulting book, is not a rewrite of the Hugo classic. It was simply the source of her inspiration for her characters: Day, dystopian Los Angeles's most wanted criminal, and June, the soldier assigned to capture him. Throughout the pursuit, the characters uncover secrets about their authoritarian society, and they come to question if they truly are the enemies they thought they were.

My favorite part of this series is June. It takes serious skill to write a female protagonist that is just as physically tough as the boys, but still seems very female in her toughness. June is the most skilled fighter and sharpest strategic thinker simply because of her intellect and determination.

It doesn't feel out of place when she has to wear a formal gown to a fancy event, nor does it feel out of place when she breaks someone's arm. She's simply tough, smart, and feminine, no explanations needed.

Day is also an intriguing character. While his skills make him a worthy adversary, his emotions more strongly guide his actions, for better and worse. His emotional development is satisfying, and Lu writes the dynamic between Day and June well.

Lu wisely chose to have the narration alternate from the beginning of the series. Some dystopian authors find themselves adding narrators later in the series when their world building gets too expansive for one perspective, and I feel like something is always lost when this happens. Most readers have already created a voice for the character, and the narration seldom matches. Lu successfully allows June and Day to develop at their own rate and in their own words throughout the series.

Champion, the final installment in this trilogy, came out earlier this month, so you won't have an agonizing wait for resolution. And as rumor has it, the ending is much more satisfying than Allegiant's anyway.

Read this book if...

Target Audience: Ages 12 and up.

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