Friday, February 21, 2014

Young Adult Fiction: Champion by Marie Lu

And here we are, the final book in Marie Lu's Legend trilogy. There were a few moments where I didn't think my little heart could take reading the series all the way through to Champion, but I also knew there was no way I could stop after reading either the first or second book. There was just took much I had to know...I had to see how Lu would end this. And again, serious spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't read either Legend or Prodigy.

The Situation: It's been months since June and Day have seen each other. She is working hard for Anden as the youngest of the Princeps-Elects, essentially training to become what to us would be like the Vice President, or perhaps more accurately, the First Lady. Meanwhile, Day has been reunited with his little brother, Eden, and the two are living under the Republic's protection in San Francisco, with both of them receiving treatment for their respective health problems. The doctors are working to repair Eden's loss of vision, which are a result of the plague and the experiments they conducted on him, and they are also attempting to shrink the tumor they have found in Day's head so that they can someday operate on him and remove it. Both June and Day are doing their best to convince themselves that their separation was necessary, and they are both failing miserably.

The Problem: The Colonies have begun to attack, much more aggressively than ever before, and all because they claim that one of the many plagues that the Republic has engineered has successfully infected some of their citizens, and they will not cease fire until the Republic hands over the cure. And with the Colonies having a better military, and the generous support of Africa, which in Lu's version of the future is a burgeoning continent, the Colonies have a good chance of winning this war if the Republic does not cooperate. The only way a cure can be found is if the Republic does tests on patient zero, and they believe patient zero happens to be Eden, Day's brother. There is no way Day would ever hand his brother back to the Republic, but June has been tasked with getting him to agree to just that. So after months of no communication, June finds herself having to confront Day once more, only to ask him to give up what he has fought so long to protect.

Genre, Themes, History: Again, this is a young adult novel set in an extremely messed up version of the future. It is science fiction as well as dystopian fiction, and things have actually gotten much worse since the previous book. Sure, the powers ruling the Republic are less militant and have given its people new hope, but now they are under threat of being taken over by the neighboring country they have been at war with for so long. Throughout all three books, the power and strength of the military have been crucial to the survival of every country. In Legend, the reader only saw life in the Republic. In Prodigy, we got a view of life in the Colonies, and it actually wasn't much better, although they were more technologically advanced. Now, in Champion, June gets to take a trip to Antarctica, which is doing just as well as Africa, and is a potential ally to the Republic. And even though the Antarcticans are even more advanced than the Colonies, the society still isn't perfect, and June realizes that even for all of their advances, it is still not somewhere she would want to live. Reading Lu's version of these future societies was both fascinating and slightly disconcerting, as she may or may not be close to the truth, but we won't know until we get there.

When I ordered the box set of the trilogy off of Amazon (Oh yes, this blog is certainly brought to you by both Amazon and Half Price Books. Without Amazon's discounted rates, and HPB's low prices, and also the recent generosity of public relations firms wanting to get their authors some coverage, this blog would not be possible.), it came with Life Before Legend, a handy little 40 page book that contains two short stories, one from Day, and one from June, that both take place about three years before the beginning of Legend. For some strange reason, I opted to read this after I had finished Champion, because I felt like maybe it would reveal some surprising clue about something crucial that happens later. And while that was not the case, the stories do provide interesting insight into life before June and Day meet.

My Verdict: I like Champion just as much as I liked Prodigy, if not more so. Although, the plot holes and inconsistencies become really apparent in this book, but maybe it is because there is just so much going on. I mean, there is a war going on between two neighboring countries, and both have or are seeking political allies with other countries, so there are some serious politics going on here. Also, June is now part of the Senate at only 16 years of age, while Day is essentially battling brain cancer and taking care of his mostly blind little brother. Oh, and then of course there is the whole thing about June and Day obviously being meant to be, but every factor under the sun threatens to keep them apart. Yeah, things get real. But I loved it. There were moments throughout my normal day when I couldn't wait to get back to the book and read how June and Day were handling all of these ridiculous challenges. Again, some details fall through the cracks, but even so, it's well worth the ride.

Favorite Moment: When the young Elector, Anden, shows the much older and much more experienced members of the Senate why he is the leader of the Republic, and what he is willing to do with that power if they don't follow him, as they should.

Favorite Character: This hasn't changed. I'm still going with both June and Day; however, I would also like to add Day's little brother, Eden. Poor little guy was experimented on and as a result is pretty near totally blind, but that doesn't stop him from being a sweet kid and wanting to help however he can.

Recommended Reading: After reading Champion I am going to go back to a recommendation I made after reading Legend and say that 1984 would make a good follow-up to this entire series. People keep saying that if you liked the Legend series that you should read The Hunger Games (I've even said it), and while I think people should read The Hunger Games regardless of whether they liked Legend or not, they are really two very different kinds of stories. They are both dystopian and involve young adults, but really the similarities more or less end there. So maybe in addition to George Orwell's 1984, maybe also read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Neither of them is all that long, but both make interesting predictions about our future that are worth taking a look at. 

No comments: