Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writer’s View: Legend by Marie Lu

From Goodreads: 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' 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.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills

 The Writer’s View:

Lu did something really amazing with this book: she developed an emotional connection between the reader (or at least, this reader) and two characters largely off stage. She accomplished this through a continuous series of short, poignant flashbacks interspersed throughout the entire narrative.

Flashbacks are a tricky thing to handle. Writers can get tangled up them, turning them into large info dumps that hinder the narrative and momentum of the plot. (Been there, done that.)

Every flashback that Lu employs is poignant and short. She delves into flashbacks that have intense emotional context to the current situation of the characters. The entire effect is stunning.

The two main characters, June and Day, both have important relationships with characters who don't get a lot of stage time. June: her brother, Metais. Day: his two brothers, mother, and deceased father.

Itty bitty spoiler’s below . . .

When June’s brother dies early in the novel, the reader has only had a few interactions with him, and one of them in a flashback. Yet I physically felt the impact of his death, and how deeply it effected June.

By the end of the novel, when Day’s elder brother is killed, I sobbed. Sobbed. Not because his brother had a main role in the novel, but because through flashbacks, I got to know and care about him. I was amazed at how much compassion I had for these side characters.

Lu’s technique is of particular interest to me. In my current WIP, I have a main character who, due to physical logistics and the self-imposed limitation of a 1st person POV, has the potential to suffer from being largely off-stage. I picked up a very neat technique from Lu. Hopefully I can make it work in my novel!


  1. I haven't read this one, yet, but hopefully I will sometime this year. I like that you take something away from the book that you can learn as a writer. That's the best way to learn how to improve your craft. Now I really want to read this. If only that TBR pile wasn't so daunting.

  2. @ Cathy - Why is it that our TBR piles never seem to get any smaller? :)

  3. I started reading Legend a while ago but I put it down and stopped reading for some reason. I think at the time I was getting a bit fatigued with YA. Reading your reviews makes me think I should pick it up again.

  4. I had a little trouble with this book starting out because I didn't find June very likeable. She still wasn't my favorite character at the end, but I loved Day and the rest of the characters.

    Thanks for stopping by! BTW, I'm a Chan, too!

  5. I think that's my problem right now. I don't like June very much at all and I have a hard time believing she's 15. Yay for the Chans! My husbands been hounding me for ages to change my last name since we've been married for 4 years now but I can't let it go.

  6. @ Lan -Unfortunately for me, June never became much more likeable. Mostly because she betrays one of the characters I totally love, and even though she makes up for it later, I'm still holding a grudge against her. Yeah, I'm that kind of reader...!

    Maybe you can keep Chan and use it as a middle name? Or a hyphenated last name?