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
I'm not gonna lie, at first I thought there wasn't much to set this apart from other dystopian YA novels. It was nothing special. I mean it was entertaining and I did breeze right through the first book, but I almost didn't read the rest of the series.
The characters weren't always believable. I'm supposed to believe that a 15 year old girl was tasked with hunting down a dangerous criminal... by herself. I can buy that she's a badass, trained to be tactical and has a mind for scheming and cornering criminals. Sure, there could be a girl like that. But who in their right mind would expect a young girl to go off on her own into dangerous areas to seek out a wanted criminal? Yeah... no. And Day is supposed to be some sort of super-human boy who does Parkour to get away from authorities, right? He's nimble, he's quick; Sure, I can buy that. Until I read about all his health problems and chronic bad knee. And he's considered one of the country's most wanted criminals when all he is, is a glorified graffiti artist (well, he did have a few counts of sabotage and theft on him, too). He's basically a combination of Spiderman (minus the web-slinging) and Banksy. And how could anyone from this isolated country say he looked Mongolian when they would have had no knowledge of Mongolia? Or any other countries, for that matter. And their romance? It was a bit abrupt.
Everything that happened felt like I'd read it before in another book. People are suppressed, the government is too involved and the citizens are unhappy. Nothing new. And I felt that all the dying was a bit unnecessary.
So the first book, to say the least, was a disappointment. I wasn't really interested in reading Prodigy (the 2nd book in series). I think I only picked it up because I randomly saw it at the library and thought, "Why not? I've got nothing else to read." If you can make it to the second book it gets waaaaaaaaay better! I was so glad I kept reading!
The history rounded out well (except for technical global-warming nit-picky things) and I actually find the politics interesting! So weird for me! The Republic reminded me of North Korea, which was super interesting. The isolation and propaganda and insanely invasive government were so fun to read about. Lu tricked me with the first book into thinking this was just a bland romance set in a dystopian society. I guess that is part of it but more and more layers appeared in the 2nd book and it got smarter! I found more intelligence in Prodigy than its predecessor. And I love that! I even felt more connected with the characters.
I didn't like Champion as much as Prodigy but more than Legend, if that makes sense. I liked the political stuff. I liked the characters well enough. One thing that bugged me was the lack of humor. I like my distopian/thriller novels to have an element of laugh-out-loud humor to detract form the depressing subject matter. Everything was sooooo serious. And the love scene was a bit more intense than your run of the mill YA stuff. In general I liked the relationship progression at the end; It felt realistic.
So overall this series started out bland but completely won me over by the 2nd book! I don't know if I'd recommend it, really, since there is a significant time investment needed in order to get to the interesting stuff, but if you've already read the first book I would definitely recommend continuing on with the series.
Sexual Content: Moderate (although the third book got a bit steamy)
Drugs/Alcohol: Mild (alcohol used to dull pain, for medical purposes)
Legend: 3/5 acorns
Prodigy: 4/5 acorns
Champion: 3.5/5 acorns