Author: Marie Lu
Categories/Genres: YA, scifi, dystopian
Previous Rating: 4/5
Reread Rating: 2/5
VERY MILD SPOILERS BELOW
I have very fond memories of Legend by Marie Lu, an action-packed dystopian YA novel set in future LA. June is one of the Republic’s best students. Day is a wanted criminal. June’s brother, Metias, is killed and June wants revenge. They discover government secrets. While this is happening, a rebel group called the Colonies is always mentioned and there’s also a plague going around because why not. I’m pretty sure it was one of my favorite books at one point and I considered it one of the better YA dystopian books around.
Before I reread it, I only remembered that I liked the romance and that I really liked the conspiracy elements. I thought it was well-written and that the world was well-developed for such a short book.
So I decided to give it a reread and in a surprising turn of events (a rude plot twist), I ended up being severely disappointed to the point where I wanted to time travel back and slap my old reading self and ask myself why I was reading this.
old self: *On the computer* *sees present me*
me: so why exactly did you like this book?? I don’t get it??
WTF who are you??!!!
me: GET MORE STRICT WITH YOUR RATING SYSTEM.*disappears*
she looked a lot like me..
That’s probably one of the sad things about rereading. Sometimes your favorites just don’t hold up and then you realize your nostalgia was filling in the gaps for you once you get further away from the book. You remember the feelings but you don’t remember much else.
Granted I did read this book almost 6 years ago so the experience of rereading was almost like reading a new book. Almost. It’s more like slipping on an old Halloween costume and finding out that it’s too short and tight now. But anyways this book is classified as a dystopian and now that I’ve reread it, I struggle to really comprehend why it’s classified as such because honestly, nothing about this government is explained. Here are some worldbuilding things that irritated me that I did not notice the first time I read it.
- You have to take a Trial test (which sounds like the SAT–I would definitely fail that) and that basically determines whether you get a good or a bad job which I feel like is logistically kind of hard. I mean is it a scantron test?? What if the grader grades it wrong? What if it doesn’t go through the machine right?? What if someloses it ??What if I bubbled in incorrectly but I knew the answer?? So many things could go wrong..
2. There’s also no sense of what the hierarchy of this government is. Like there’s an Elector, also a Commander but no one else?? Like is LA run by two people?? Damn, this is basically hiring a 16-year-old to catch a notorious criminal..makes sense.
3. Oh, there is also a plague which does not seem to exist out of the confines of the plot. The plague affects one person in this entire book and there’s not really any mention of the plague ever..like ok..
I suppose I’m just more way more picky about worldbuilding now. What once was merely an annoyance is now a nuisance that I can’t brush off. It’s also interesting how much scientific inaccuracies bother me now. Take, for example, this quote:
I have what the Republic considers good gene–and better genes make for better soldiers make for better chance of victory against the Colonies.
Do you know how many genes there are?? What do you mean good genes? Genes are good for some things, not good for others. And if she’s talking about intelligence, there really is no such thing as an intelligence gene and even if there are, it depends on the type of nurture you had. Nature vs. nurture and all that.
But honestly, the real question is should I even be bothered by this? I mean so what, if there are scientific inaccuracies. I suppose I care because there’s already a lot of misinformation out there. Maybe it’s an aftereffect of being a science major for four years.
And the thing about reading action-packed books is that the second time you read them, you know what’s going to happen so that air of surprise and anticipation is just not there anymore. You should come for the plot but stay for the characters. Except the characters aren’t the best either. I actually should applaud Marie Lu a little for creating such believable characters within such a short span of time (this book clocks in at 305 pages with a pretty big font too). But that does not stop me from being bored by these characters. June and Day also basically kind of sound the same. June and Day do sound different in the sequels but that does not really come across here. I also read reviews about people complaining about the “instalove” between June and Day and I really didn’t think so back then but now the instalove was hitting me in the face and I’m wondering how I didn’t see it before. They basically start trusting each other like the day after they meet each other. And it’s just basically smooth sailing from there. Now I don’t mind instalove, as long as you build conflict even after they fall for each other like for example The Wrath and the Dawn. I suppose in 6 years I’ve met so many different characters that these characters just don’t cut it anymore.
So after this enlightening experience, I suppose I am now
- a more picky reader
- I care a lot more about worldbuilding
- I need more complexity in my characters
- I’m also more attuned to an author’s writing
But here are some questions I’m curious about: when you read a book, are you more attuned to certain aspects more than others? Does your profession allow you to detect some types of inaccuracies more than others? If so, do they bother you while you’re reading? Have you reread a book recently that disappointed you? How much of your preconceived notions when you read it the first time affected your reread of it? How much of nostalgia affected your view of the book after you’ve read it? I would love to hear your thoughts =)