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October 27, 2013 / milesandhisfavorites

Legend Is Better Than The Hunger Games Part Two: The Book

Legend takes place perhaps a century into the future, if not more.  After massive flooding and general devastation, the former US has been divided into two countries.  There’s the Colonies of America, which take up the eastern half and, for most of Legend, we know almost nothing about.  And then there’s the Republic of America.  The Republic, run by its leader, the Elector Primo, is a total and utter military-backed dictatorship at perpetual war with the Colonies.


Anyway, the current Elector Primo is, yeah, Kim Jong-Il with a monocle.    The people of the Republic are fed a constant stream of propaganda about how the Colonies are poor people who want everything and so on and so forth.  Also, in order to root out bad genes (no, really), at age ten, you must take part in a Trial, a massive aptitude test that determines the rest of your life.  Score low enough, and you’re thrown in for medical experimentation and death.  Score okay, and you do okay in life.  Score highly, and you get the good jobs and the good education.  Get a perfect score (1500), and that’s where our story begins…

June Iparis is a fifteen-year-old girl.  She lives in the twenty-million-strong city of Los Angeles, in the Republic.  She lives with her renowned soldier brother in a high-class apartment, is fiercely loyal to the Republic, and oh yeah, she’s the only person to have ever gotten a perfect score on her trial.  EVER.  She is the Republic equivalent of Akrit Jaswal.

Daniel Altan Wing, more commonly known as Day, is the most wanted criminal in the Republic.  He’s a vandal, he’s a thief, he’s an arsonist, and much like June, he’s only fifteen.  He’s a fairly common LA slum kid just trying to help his family, but as you can imagine, the two cross paths, discover some uncomfortable truths, and fall in love, because some things never change in the magical land of dystopian YA.  But why is the book so good?  If I could sum it up in one word, it would probably be style.

The sort of style of The Hunger Games is more simplistic than Legend, with major motifs being ideas like mockingjays and the bow and arrow.  But with Legend, this is a well-developed country, much more so than Panem.  For instance, here’s a quote from Legend, when June and Day first meet:

“Then I realize from the hollow sound of her gun’s click that her gun isn’t loaded. Apparently she just wants to slap me around with it.
The Girl doesn’t move her gun away. “How old are you?”
“That’s better.” The Girl lowers her gun a little. “Time for a few confessions.Were you responsible for the break-in at the Arcadia bank?”
The ten-second place. “Yes.”
“Then you must be responsible for stealing sixteen thousand five hundred Notes from there as well.”
“You got that right.”
“Were you responsible for vandalizing the Department of Intra-Defense two years ago, and destroying the engines of two warfront airships?”
“Did you set fire to a series of ten F-472 fighter jets parked at the Burbank air force base right before they were to head out to the warfront?”
“I’m kinda proud of that one.”
“Did assault a cadet standing guard at the edge of the Alta sector’s quarantine zone?”
“I tied him up and delivered food to some quarantined families.  Bite me.” 

Compare it with this quote from The Hunger Games:

“Peeta, you said at the interview you’d had a crush on me forever. When did forever start?

Oh, let’s see. I guess the first day of school. We were five. You had on a red plaid dress and your hair…it was in two braids instead of one. My father pointed you out when we were waiting to line up.”

Your father? Why?”

He said, ‘See that little girl? I wanted to marry her mother, but she ran off with a coal miner.'”

What? You’re making that up!”

No, true story. And I said, ‘A coal miner? Why did she want a coal miner if she could’ve had you?’ And he said, ‘Because when he sings…even the birds stop to listen.” 

Both are good conversations (although to be fair, the first one was a chat that made me despise June), but are worded very differently.  With Legend, it’s all military lingo, coats of arms and a certain color of epaulets.  But with The Hunger Games, it’s much more emotional.  That’s not to say that The Hunger Games doesn’t have some excruciating descriptions (like the many scenes where people eat in the Capitol), or that Legend doesn’t have simplistic, motif-based quotes, but the two are generally opposites.  But, despite the fact that you may not want to know what Anden’s pilot gloves look like, they all contribute to the feel of A) characters with an eye for detail and B) a more developed, militarized world.  To draw a comparison, it’s like the scenes in Dredd where you have these massive, cool shots of Mega-City One, like it’s a real world that people live in and do stuff in.

That’s probably why I love Legend so much.  When you get down to it, The Hunger Games is more story-based than world-based, drawing its strengths through personal emotions and individual bonds between, say, one character and another.  Legend is the opposite, drawing its strengths from the world that everybody inhabits.  Marie Lu does a fantastic job of just making me want to know every detail of every facet of the Republic and the Colonies.  The Hunger Games is a beautifully written story.  Legend is a beautifully crafted world.

But wait, those of you who read Legend might be thinking-what do I think of the sequel, Prodigy?

Yeah, it’s even better.

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