What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Okay, I should probably start by saying I probably shouldn’t have read this book fresh off of “An Ember in the Ashes”. Usually when I read something really intense that completely consumes my entire life I try to read something lighter as a kind of buffer, like a contemporary book or a re-read. But this time I just went straight to another dramatic dystopia-type series “Legend” was next on my “books I couldn’t read over the semester because college took my soul” list, so here we are!
I’ve actually been meaning to read this series for a while now, but when it still had books coming out I was reading like a whole load of series and I didn’t really want to start another one at the time. But now that pretty much all of my series are over or ending soon I figured I’d finally read some of the ones I never got around to reading, starting with “Legend”. And now I’m just like oh my god, why did I not read this earlier I think I officially have a new obsession.
SPOILERS FOR “THE LEGEND SERIES” BEYOND THIS POINT
So this series is another dystopia, but it’s still has its unique aspects. There is a lot of information on the Republic, and I would like to know more about the trials and the war with the Colonies and stuff, but for me the story was really more focused on the characters. We have the whole dual perspective thing going again, this time between June, who is training to be part of the republic, and Day, who is the republic’s most wanted criminal. I don’t really think there was one perspective that I liked more than the other, they were both really great characters and I got so darn attached to both of them.
First off we have June. What was interesting about her to me is that she doesn’t go through a typical dystopia arc of learning to be stronger and standing against an oppressive system. Instead, she starts the book as a trained agent working with the Republic, and her arc follows her discovering the Republic’s true nature, especially after she meets Day. On top of that, she’s a really interesting character. She’s presented as very confident and intelligent, and as very capable in a dangerous situation, and it’s really cool to see a main character who’s comfortable with herself, but also deals with an insane amount of grief and emotional confliction. She’s just this great character who sacrifices nearly all she has to do what’s right, and it’s really cool to see her develop through the book.
And then we had Day. Oh my god, I didn’t expect to fall for another fictional character so soon after Elias from “An Ember in the Ashes”, but I absolutely loved Day. He’s just so wonderfully sarcastic and charismatic and he presents himself as so confident and experienced and goes along with the Republic’s image of him as a criminal, but then in reality he’s so entirely devoted to protecting the people he cares about. This is a character who takes in an orphan when he’s struggling to survive himself (and I loved his relationship with Tess by the way, they had better be reunited in “Prodigy”) and does everything he can to provide for his mother and brothers, even though he can’t even let his mother and Eden know he’s alive. He doesn’t plan to become a celebrity or start a revolution, he just wants to defend and support his struggling family as much as he possibly can. This character is just so selfless and protective and oh my god I just absolutely loved him.
But then, that’s what makes it so freaking painful when he spends this entire book going through his own personal hell. Especially since the Republic continuously uses his family against him. For instance, during the scene where they LITERALLY KILLED HIS MOTHER TO DRAW HIM OUT immediately after she learns that her son is alive, I swear I could literally feel part of my soul leaving my body from the feels.
And then we have to see him being tortured for a crime he didn’t commit while under threat of his older brother being tortured and his younger brother being used for plague experiments. Those scenes were just so painful to read, especially since they’re mixed with June participating in the interrogations and dealing with her confliction between Day and the Republic.
And then, at the end, when John took Day’s place at the execution, I was getting so upset at this book. I had this sense that something like that was going to happen, since they kept saying how similar Day and John looked and all, but it still freaking destroyed me emotionally. It’s just like can this book take a minute to STOP KILLING EVERYONE THAT DAY LOVES. Seriously, this character has gone through enough pain in his life, it needs to stop. But of course this is the first book in a dystopia series, so it probably isn’t going to get any better…
But then the same thing goes for June. Through the course of this book she literally loses everything. She already lost her parents before the book even starts, and within the first chapters her only living family member is murdered. So she goes undercover to find his murderer and avenge his death, and finds Day, who they believes is responsible (after they start developing feelings for each other), only to learn that he is innocent, Metias was murdered by someone they both considered a friend, and on top of everything else the Republic in which she has trained and served for a good portion of her life has been doing horrible things to the people, and was essentially responsible for the deaths of her entire family.
God, what is it with the stuff I read completely physically and emotionally torturing their main characters…
The best part of the book for me though is the way that June and Day work off each other. These two characters are from completely different social classes and backgrounds and lives in general, but then at the same time they have this great parallel where everything they do is for the people they love. June just wants justice for her brother, and Day just wants to care for his family, but they’re both thrown into this insane situation that turns them into these symbols against the Republic and now we have these two characters who have lost nearly everything and have no safe place to go but will stop at nothing to protect what they have left and I just have so many feelings about these two. And on top of that they have this great dynamic where I can see the potential for so much sarcasm and epicness with these two completely badass characters working together and I am so glad that they’re on the same side now and we’ll be able to see that in the next book.
So quickly I’m going to go over the other characters, starting with Thomas. Thomas irritated me. At first I really wanted to like him, I figured that he was going to be a friend or potential love interest or something for June and help her find out who actually killed her brother. But god was I wrong. I kind of figured out that he killed Metias towards the end but it was still extremely emotionally painful, especially with June’s reaction. Plus I was getting a few friendzone guy vibes from him when he wouldn’t leave June alone towards the end. Commander Jameson was frustrating as well. She struck me as a complete sadist, especially when Day was being tortured, and overall she would not stop hurting the people I love so yeah, she’s probably going to be an issue in the next book.
On the other side of things I really liked Tess, she seems sweet and it was good to see Day have a friend while they were on the streets, and I’m kind of worried for her working with the patriots, especially if the Republic figures out she was close with Day. On the same token I am so worried for poor Eden, and I really hope June and Day find him soon. But of course, again, this is a YA dystopia, so there’s no way that getting him back is going to be easy.
I also need to know about Kaede. We didn’t see a lot of her, and I don’t know if she’s going to be important or anything, but whenever we did see her she seemed super interesting. Maybe she’ll provide a connection to the patriots or something. I just really hope we see her again.
If I did have one complaint with the book it would probably be that there was a bit of an “instant love” situation between June and Day. I can definitely see myself shipping them, but I’d like to see their relationship take more time to develop, especially in a situation where she’s not undercover and they both know who each other is and they’re definitely on the same side.
On another note though, I have to say that the action scenes in this book are ridiculously well written. I know keep going back to “An Ember in the Ashes” here but I got the same cinematic feeling from a lot of parts of this book. Like when Day is breaking into the hospital or towards the end when they escape before the execution, I can just visualize these scenes really clearly and can picture them transferring so well to a good adaptation. I heard something about a movie of this series somewhere, and I do hope it happens, but it needs to be accurate, and they should probably wait until the hype from some of the other adaptations dies down slightly before putting it out so it doesn’t get compared to “Divergent” or “Hunger Games” or anything.
So yeah, I have developed another obsession with a series. I already have “Prodigy” on my kindle and I am probably going to read it really fast because I need to know about so much stuff. Like I need information on the colonies, and where Day and June’s relationship goes, and if they find Eden, and on the patriots, and other various aspects because I am completely addicted.
Also, I know this is random, but I need to see June reunited with her dog. If you put a dog in a book, I will spend the entire series concerned for the well-being of that dog, so non-depressing closure on Ollie the dog needs to happen. Seriously.
So that’s about it! See you next time for my rant on “Prodigy”!