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The Twitter Chat Review: Diversity in Legend by Marie Lu, cohosted by author David James

So, I read (actually I listened to) Legend by Marie Lu for last night’s Diversity chat hosted by author David James.  You always hear great things about this series, but I had not yet read it.  To be honest: It was amazing. 

The Goodreads synopsis of Legend states: 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.

Legend is a superb example of storytelling where the details slowly unfold and you are stunned time and time again by the reveal.  In addition, the world that Lu creates seems not only possible, but a likely outcome if we continue on our current trajectory.  She takes class warfare to new, extreme levels and terrifies with this all too possible vision of what some people will do for power.  And in the midst of it all, she creates strong, rich characters full of complexity and emotion.  Definitely chech this one out.

Below are some of the Tweets from last night’s Twitter chat.

There was one area in which there was some disagreement, diversity about character sexuality.

More on Diversity at TLT:
Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit

Book Chat: Diversity in LEGEND by Marie Lu, with guest host author David James

Christie, Stephanie and I work at libraries with a lot of diversity – at least in our patrons.  I don’t know about you, but we find it hard to find a lot of good, quality books that showcase diverse MG and YA teens without being overly stereotypical.  It’s a conversation we have a lot actually, here are some of our posts.

Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit

So the other day author David James posted THIS essay about diversity in the Legend series by Marie Lu: On Multiculturalism and Diversity in Marie Lu’s Legend and Diversity.

So, here’s what we are going to do.  In March, please read Legend and Prodigy by Marie Lu.  Then join us on Wednesday, March 27th for an online Twitter Chat with David James as we have our monthly book club and talk Legend and diversity.  Online chat Wedesday, March 27th at 8 PM Central time.

Bio: David James writes books about stars and kisses and curses. He is the author of the YA novel, LIGHT OF THE MOON, the first book in the Legend of the Dreamer series. A novella for the series, THE WARRIOR’S CODE, as well as the sequel, SHADOW OF THE SUN, will be released in 2013. Living in Michigan, he is addicted to coffee, gummy things, and sarcastic comments. He enjoys bad movies and shivery nights, but doesn’t really like writing bios about himself in the third person. Be sure to visit David’s facebook and twitter to learn more about his various addictions and novels.

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu (reviewed by Chris D)

Legend by Marie Lu was a pretty unconventional choice of reads for me in the sense that it has some pretty strong romantic undertones (you know… actual human feelings.)  But I needed to pull the car out of the ditch and read something with some emotional depth rather than just for a good story.  Fortunately this has both.

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with dystopian, but this one really played to my love of history.  The book takes place, from what I can gather, about 100 years in the future and revolves around the lives of two distinctly different characters living in the flooded remains of Los Angeles, California in the “Republic of America”.  Chapters alternate between the two characters, one being a 15 year old criminal known as Day, trying to save his younger brother from a fatal flu.  The other, June, is a young, prodigious military cadet born into one of the Republic’s elite families.
After some unknown calamity (possibly a global flu pandemic or runaway climate change) the continental US is broken up into two countries; the Republic and the Colonies.  Another faction is mentioned, the Patriots, who seem to be a terrorist organization working against the Republic government.   The constant state of war among the groups reminds me of the civil war and brings to mind other works of fiction concerning a “second civil war,” such as many of the Harry Turtledove novels.

Every child on their tenth birthday takes a “trial,” consisting of physical fitness tests, aptitude tests, and a string of interviews with Republic officials.  Those that pass are assigned various duties of the state (the higher the score, the more prestigious) and those that fail are sent to “work camps.”  What makes June a prodigy is she is the only child in the history of the trials to score a perfect 1500, she flies through college, and is the youngest cadet the military has ever seen. 
The differences between the rich and poor play a big part in this novel and presumably will continue to do so throughout the series.  The elite are given free flu vaccinations each year, have access to education, and tend to have very few worries. While the poor (such as Day’s family) live in squalor, die of the flu, and are denied even the most basic of assistance.  It’s no surprise then that the children most likely to fail the trials and be sent away come from the poor areas of the city.
Raised in an elite, military family June’s loyalty to the Republic is absolute and she is more than happy to perform any duty in the name of “Elector Primo.” But when she is sent undercover to capture Day, the Republic’s most notorious criminal and Robin Hood of Los Angeles, she begins to discover that her country, her superiors, and even her best friend are not what she was raised to believe. Conspiracies and corruption abound and June begins to question her loyalty to the system as she becomes more disillusioned by the actions of those around her.
An enjoyable read and what looks to be a great series forthcoming. It’s in the same ilk as The Hunger Games, Ship Breakers, and Divergent.  Think of it as 1984with a pandemic plague thrown in. 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Make no mistake though; this book has the feel of a movie just waiting to happen.