Legend (Marie Lu's Legend Series #1)

Legend (Marie Lu's Legend Series #1)

by Marie Lu


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"Legend doesn't merely survive the hype, it deserves it."

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites

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.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142422076
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 04/16/2013
Series: Marie Lu's Legend Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 7,331
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: HL710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu (www.marielu.org) graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Read an Excerpt




POPULATION: 20,174,282





Obviously I’m not dead, but it’s safer for her to think so.

At least twice a month, I see my Wanted poster flashed on the JumboTrons scattered throughout downtown Los Angeles. It looks out of place up there. Most of the pictures on the screens are of happy things: smiling children standing under a bright blue sky, tourists posing before the Golden Gate Ruins, Republic commercials in neon colors. There’s also anti-Colonies propaganda. “The Colonies want our land,” the ads declare. “They want what they don’t have. Don’t let them conquer your homes! Support the cause!”

Then there’s my criminal report. It lights up the JumboTrons in all its multicolored glory:


FILE NO: 462178-3233 “DAY”



They always have a different photo running alongside the report. One time it was a boy with glasses and a head full of thick copper curls. Another time it was a boy with black eyes and no hair at all. Sometimes I’m black, sometimes white, sometimes olive or brown or yellow or red or whatever else they can think of.

In other words, the Republic has no idea what I look like. They don’t seem to know much of anything about me, except that I’m young and that when they run my fingerprints they don’t find a match in their databases. That’s why they hate me, why I’m not the most dangerous criminal in the country, but the most wanted. I make them look bad.

It’s early evening, but it’s already pitch-black outside, and the JumboTrons’ reflections are visible in the street’s puddles. I sit on a crumbling window ledge three stories up, hidden from view behind rusted steel beams. This used to be an apartment complex, but it’s fallen into disrepair. Broken lanterns and glass shards litter the floor of this room, and paint is peeling from every wall. In one corner, an old portrait of the Elector Primo lies faceup on the ground. I wonder who used to live here—no one’s cracked enough to let their portrait of the Elector sit discarded on the floor like that.

My hair, as usual, is tucked inside an old newsboy cap. My eyes are fixed on the small one-story house across the road. My hands fiddle with the pendant tied around my neck.

Tess leans against the room’s other window, watching me closely. I’m restless tonight and, as always, she can sense it.

The plague has hit the Lake sector hard. In the glow of the JumboTrons, Tess and I can see the soldiers at the end of the street as they inspect each home, their black capes shiny and worn loose in the heat. Each of them wears a gas mask. Sometimes when they emerge, they mark a house by painting a big red X on the front door. No one enters or leaves the home after that—at least, not when anyone’s looking.

“Still don’t see them?” Tess whispers. Shadows conceal her expression.

In an attempt to distract myself, I’m piecing together a makeshift slingshot out of old PVC pipes. “They haven’t eaten dinner. They haven’t sat down by the table in hours.” I shift and stretch out my bad knee.

“Maybe they’re not home?”

I shoot Tess an irritated glance. She’s trying to console me, but I’m not in the mood. “A lamp’s lit. Look at those candles. Mom would never waste candles if no one was home.”

Tess moves closer. “We should leave the city for a couple weeks, yeah?” She tries to keep her voice calm, but the fear is there. “Soon the plague will have blown through, and you can come back to visit. We have more than enough money for two train tickets.”

I shake my head. “One night a week, remember? Just let me check up on them one night a week.”

“Yeah. You’ve been coming here every night this week.”

“I just want to make sure they’re okay.”

“What if you get sick?”

“I’ll take my chances. And you didn’t have to come with me. You could’ve waited for me back in Alta.”

Tess shrugs. “Somebody has to keep an eye on you.” Two years younger than me—although sometimes she sounds old enough to be my caretaker.

We look on in silence as the soldiers draw closer to my family’s house. Every time they stop at a home, one soldier pounds on the door while a second stands next to him with his gun drawn. If no one opens the door within ten seconds, the first soldier kicks it in. I can’t see them once they rush inside, but I know the drill: a soldier will draw a blood sample from each family member, then plug it into a handheld reader and check for the plague. The whole process takes ten minutes.

I count the houses between where the soldiers are now and where my family lives. I’ll have to wait another hour before I know their fate.

A shriek echoes from the other end of the street. My eyes dart toward the sound and my hand whips to the knife sheathed at my belt. Tess sucks in her breath.

It’s a plague victim. She must’ve been deteriorating for months, because her skin is cracked and bleeding everywhere, and I find myself wondering how the soldiers could have missed this one during previous inspections. She stumbles around for a while, disoriented, then charges forward, only to trip and fall to her knees. I glance back toward the soldiers. They see her now. The soldier with the drawn weapon approaches, while the eleven others stay where they are and look on. One plague victim isn’t much of a threat. The soldier lifts his gun and aims. A volley of sparks engulfs the infected woman.

She collapses, then goes still. The soldier rejoins his comrades.

I wish we could get our hands on one of the soldiers’ guns. A pretty weapon like that doesn’t cost much on the market—480 Notes, less than a stove. Like all guns, it has precision, guided by magnets and electric currents, and can accurately shoot a target three blocks away. It’s tech stolen from the Colonies, Dad once said, although of course the Republic would never tell you that. Tess and I could buy five of them if we wanted. . . . Over the years we’ve learned to stockpile the extra money we steal and stash it away for emergencies. But the real problem with having a gun isn’t the expense. It’s that it’s so easy to trace back to you. Each gun has a sensor on it that reports its user’s hand shape, thumbprints, and location. If that didn’t give me away, nothing would. So I’m left with my homemade weapons, PVC pipe slingshots, and other trinkets.

“They found another one,” Tess says. She squints to get a better look.

I look down and see the soldiers spill from another house. One of them shakes a can of spray paint and draws a giant red X on the door. I know that house. The family that lives there once had a little girl my age. My brothers and I played with her when we were younger—freeze tag and street hockey with iron pokers and crumpled paper.

Tess tries to distract me by nodding at the cloth bundle near my feet. “What’d you bring them?”

I smile, then reach down to untie the cloth. “Some of the stuff we saved up this week. It’ll make for a nice celebration once they pass the inspection.” I dig through the little pile of goodies inside the bundle, then hold up a used pair of goggles. I check them again to make sure there are no cracks in the glass. “For John. An early birthday gift.” My older brother turns nineteen later this week. He works fourteen-hour shifts in the neighborhood plant’s friction stoves and always comes home rubbing his eyes from the smoke. These goggles were a lucky steal from a military supply shipment.

I put them down and shuffle through the rest of the stuff. It’s mostly tins of meat and potato hash I stole from an airship’s cafeteria, and an old pair of shoes with intact soles. I wish I could be in the room with all of them when I deliver this stuff. But John’s the only one who knows I’m alive, and he’s promised not to tell Mom or Eden.

Eden turns ten in two months, which means that in two months he’ll have to take the Trial. I failed my own Trial when I was ten. That’s why I worry about Eden, because even though he’s easily the smartest of us three boys, he thinks a lot like I do. When I finished my Trial, I felt so sure of my answers that I didn’t even bother to watch them grade it. But then the admins ushered me into a corner of the Trial stadium with a bunch of other kids. They stamped something on my test and stuffed me onto a train headed downtown. I didn’t get to take anything except the pendant I wore around my neck. I didn’t even get to say good-bye.

Several different things could happen after you take the Trial.

You get a perfect score—1500 points. No one’s ever gotten this—well, except for some kid a few years ago who the military made a goddy fuss over. Who knows what happens to someone with a score that high? Probably lots of money and power, yeah?

You score between a 1450 and a 1499. Pat yourself on the back because you’ll get instant access to six years of high school and then four at the top universities in the Republic: Drake, Stanford, and Brenan. Then Congress hires you and you make lots of money. Joy and happiness follow. At least according to the Republic.

You get a good score, somewhere between 1250 and 1449 points. You get to continue on to high school, and then you’re assigned to a college. Not bad.

You squeak by with a score between 1000 and 1249. Congress bars you from high school. You join the poor, like my family. You’ll probably either drown while working the water turbines or get steamed to death in the power plants.

You fail.

It’s almost always the slum-sector kids who fail. If you’re in this unlucky category, the Republic sends officials to your family’s home. They make your parents sign a contract giving the government full custody over you. They say that you’ve been sent away to the Republic’s labor camps and that your family will not see you again. Your parents have to nod and agree. A few even celebrate, because the Republic gives them one thousand Notes as a condolence gift. Money and one less mouth to feed? What a thoughtful government.

Except this is all a lie. An inferior child with bad genes is no use to the country. If you’re lucky, Congress will let you die without first sending you to the labs to be examined for imperfections.

Five houses remain. Tess sees the worry in my eyes and puts a hand on my forehead. “One of your headaches coming on?”

“No. I’m okay.” I peer in the open window at my mother’s house, then catch my first glimpse of a familiar face. Eden walks by, then peeks out the window at the approaching soldiers and points some handmade metal contraption at them. Then he ducks back inside and disappears from view. His curls flash white-blond in the flickering lamplight. Knowing him, he probably built that gadget to measure how far away someone is, or something like that.

“He looks thinner,” I mutter.

“He’s alive and walking around,” Tess replies. “I’d say that’s a win.”

Minutes later, we see John and my mother wander past the window, deep in conversation. John and I look pretty similar, although he’s grown a little stockier from long days at the plant. His hair, like most who live in our sector, hangs down past his shoulders and is tied back into a simple tail. His vest is smudged with red clay. I can tell Mom’s scolding him for something or other, probably for letting Eden peek out the window. She bats John’s hand away when a bout of her chronic coughing hits her. I let out a breath. So. At least all three of them are healthy enough to walk. Even if one of them is infected, it’s early enough that they’ll still have a chance to recover.

I can’t stop imagining what will happen if the soldiers mark my mother’s door. My family will stand frozen in our living room long after the soldiers have left. Then Mom will put on her usual brave face, only to sit up through the night, quietly wiping tears away. In the morning, they’ll start receiving small rations of food and water and simply wait to recover. Or die.

My mind wanders to the stash of stolen money that Tess and I have hidden. Twenty-five hundred Notes. Enough to feed us for months . . . but not enough to buy my family vials of plague medicine.

The minutes drag on. I tuck my slingshot away and play a few rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors with Tess. (I don’t know why, but she’s crazy good at this game.) I glance several times at my mother’s window, but don’t see anyone. They must have gathered near the door, ready to open it as soon as they hear a fist against the wood.

And then the time comes. I lean forward on the ledge, so far that Tess grips my arm to make sure I don’t topple to the ground. The soldiers pound on the door. My mother opens it immediately, lets the soldiers in, and then closes it. I strain to hear voices, footsteps, anything that might come from my house. The sooner this is all over, the sooner I can sneak my gifts to John.

The silence drags on. Tess whispers, “No news is good news, right?”

“Very funny.”

I count off the seconds in my head. One minute passes. Then two, then four, and then finally, ten minutes.

Then fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes.

I look at Tess. She just shrugs. “Maybe their reader’s broken,” she suggests.

Thirty minutes pass. I don’t dare move from my vigil. I’m afraid something will happen so quickly that I’ll miss it if I blink. My fingers tap rhythmically against the hilt of my knife.

Forty minutes. Fifty minutes. An hour.

“Something’s wrong,” I whisper.

Tess purses her lips. “You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do. What could possibly take this long?”

Tess opens her mouth to reply, but before she can say anything, the soldiers are exiting my house, single file, expressionless. Finally, the last soldier shuts the door behind him and reaches for something tucked at his waist. I suddenly feel dizzy. I know what’s coming.

The soldier reaches up and sprays one long, red, diagonal line on our door. Then he sprays another line, making an X.

I curse silently under my breath and start to turn away—

—but then the soldier does something unexpected, something I’ve never seen before.

He sprays a third, vertical line on my mother’s door, cutting the X in half.

1347 HOURS.



I’M SITTING IN MY DEAN SECRETARY’S OFFICE. AGAIN. On the other side of the frosted glass door, I can see a bunch of my classmates (seniors, all at least four years older than me) hanging around in an attempt to hear what’s going on. Several of them saw me being yanked out of our afternoon drill class (today’s lesson: how to load and unload the XM-621 rifle) by a menacing pair of guards. And whenever that happens, the news spreads all over campus.

The Republic’s favorite little prodigy is in trouble again.

The office is quiet except for the faint hum coming from the dean secretary’s computer. I’ve memorized every detail of this room (hand-cut marble floors imported from Dakota, 324 plastic square ceiling tiles, twenty feet of gray drapes hanging to either side of the glorious Elector’s portrait on the office’s back wall, a thirty-inch screen on the side wall, with the sound muted and a headline that reads:“TRAITOROUS ‘PATRIOTS’ GROUP BOMBS LOCAL MILITARY STATION, KILLS FIVE” followed by “REPUBLIC DEFEATS COLONIES IN BATTLE FOR HILLSBORO”). Arisna Whitaker, the dean secretary herself, is seated behind her desk, tapping on its glass—no doubt typing up my report. This will be my eighth report this quarter. I’m willing to bet I’m the only Drake student who’s ever managed to get eight reports in one quarter without being expelled.

“Injured your hand yesterday, Ms. Whitaker?” I say after a while.

She stops typing to glare at me. “What makes you think that, Ms. Iparis?”

“The pauses in your keystrokes are off. You’re favoring your left hand.”

Ms. Whitaker sighs and leans back in her chair. “Yes, June. I twisted my wrist yesterday in a game of kivaball.”

“Sorry to hear it. You should try to swing more from your arm and not from your wrist.”

I’d meant this simply to be a statement of fact, but it sounded sort of taunting and doesn’t seem to have made her any happier. “Let’s get something straight, Ms. Iparis,” she says. “You may think you’re very smart. You may think your perfect grades earn you some sort of special treatment. You may even think you have fans at this school, what with all this nonsense.” She gestures at the students gathered outside the door. “But I’ve grown incredibly tired of our get-togethers in my office. And believe me, when you graduate and get assigned to whatever post this country chooses for you, your antics won’t impress your superiors there. Do you understand me?”

I nod, because that’s what she wants me to do. But she’s wrong. I don’t just think I’m smart. I’m the only person in the entire Republic with a perfect 1500 score on her Trial. I was assigned here, to the country’s top university, at twelve, four years ahead of schedule. Then I skipped my sophomore year. I’ve earned perfect grades at Drake for three years. I am smart. I have what the Republic considers good genes—and better genes make for better soldiers make for better chance of victory against the Colonies, my professors always say. And if I feel like my afternoon drills aren’t teaching me enough about how to climb walls while carrying weapons, then . . . well, it wasn’t my fault I had to scale the side of a nineteen-story building with a XM-621 gun strapped to my back. It was self-improvement, for the sake of my country.

Rumor has it that Day once scaled five stories in less than eight seconds. If the Republic’s most-wanted criminal can pull that off, then how are we ever going to catch him if we’re not just as fast? And if we can’t even catch him, how are we going to win the war?

Ms. Whitaker’s desk beeps three times. She holds down a button. “Yes?”

“Captain Metias Iparis is outside the gate,” a voice replies. “He’s here for his sister.”

“Good. Send him in.” She releases the button and points a finger at me. “I hope that brother of yours starts doing a better job of minding you, because if you end up in my office one more time this quarter—”

“Metias is doing a better job than our dead parents,” I reply, maybe more sharply than I intended.

We fall into an uncomfortable silence.

Finally, after what seems like an eternity, I hear a commotion out in the hall. The students pressed against the door’s glass abruptly disperse, and their shadows move aside to make room for a tall silhouette. My brother.

As Metias opens the door and steps inside, I can see some girls out in the hall stifling smiles behind their hands. But Metias fixes his full attention on me. We have the same eyes, black with a gold glint, the same long lashes and dark hair. The long lashes work particularly well for Metias. Even with the door closed behind him, I can still hear the whispers and giggles from outside. It looks like he came from his patrol duties straight to my campus. He’s decked out in his full uniform: black officer coat with double rows of gold buttons, gloves (neoprene, spectra lining, captain rank embroidery), shining epaulettes on his shoulders, formal military hat, black trousers, polished boots. My eyes meet his.

He’s furious.

Ms. Whitaker gives Metias a brilliant smile. “Ah, Captain!” she exclaims. “It’s a pleasure to see you.”

Metias taps the edge of his hat in a polite salute. “It’s unfortunate it’s under these circumstances again,” he replies. “My apologies.”

“Not a problem, Captain.” The dean secretary waves her hand dismissively. What a brownnoser—especially after what she’d just said about Metias. “It’s hardly your fault. Your sister was caught scaling a high-rise during her lunch hour today. She’d wandered two blocks off campus to do it. As you know, students are to use only the climbing walls on campus for physical training, and leaving the campus in the middle of the day is forbidden—”

“Yes, I’m aware of that,” Metias interrupts, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. “I saw the helicopters over Drake at noon and had a . . . . suspicion June might’ve been involved.”

There’d been three helicopters. They couldn’t get me off the side of the building by scaling it themselves, so they pulled me off with a net.

“Thank you for your help,” Metias says to the dean secretary. He snaps his fingers at me, my cue to get up. “When June returns to campus, she’ll be on her best behavior.”

I ignore Ms. Whitaker’s false smile as I follow my brother out of the office and into the hall. Immediately students hurry over. “June,” a boy named Dorian says as he tags alongside us. He’d asked me (unsuccessfully) to the annual Drake ball two years in a row. “Is it true? How high up did you get?”

Metias cuts him off with a stern look. “June’s heading home.” Then he puts a hand firmly on my shoulder and guides me away from my classmates. I glance behind me and manage a smile for them.

“Fourteen floors,” I call back. That gets them buzzing again. Somehow, this has become the closest relationship I have with the other Drake students. I am respected, discussed, gossiped about. Not really talked to.

Such is the life of a fifteen-year-old senior in a university meant for sixteen and up.

Metias doesn’t say another word as we make our way down the corridors, past the manicured lawns of the central quad and the glorious Elector’s statue, and finally through one of the indoor gyms. We pass by the afternoon drills I’m supposed to be participating in. I watch my classmates run along a giant track surrounded by a 360-degree screen simulating some desolate warfront road. They’re holding their rifles out in front of them, attempting to load and unload as fast as they can while running. At most other universities, there wouldn’t be so many student soldiers, but at Drake, almost all of us are well on our way to career assignments in the Republic’s military. A few others are tapped for politics and Congress, and some are chosen to stay behind and teach. But Drake is the Republic’s best university, and seeing as how the best are always assigned into the military, our drill room is packed with students.

By the time we reach one of Drake’s outer streets and I climb into the backseat of our waiting military jeep, Metias can barely contain his anger. “Suspended for a week? Do you want to explain this to me?” he demands. “I get back from a morning of dealing with the Patriot rebels and what do I hear about? Helicopters two blocks from Drake. A girl scaling a skyscraper.”

I exchange a friendly look with Thomas, the soldier in the driver’s seat. “Sorry,” I mutter.

Metias turns around from his place in the passenger seat and narrows his eyes at me. “What the hell were you thinking? Did you know you’d wandered right off campus?”


“Of course. You’re fifteen. You went fourteen floors up a—” He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and steadies himself. “For once, I’d appreciate it if you would let me do my daily tours of duty without worrying myself sick over what you’re up to.”

I try to meet Thomas’s eyes again in the rearview mirror, but he keeps his gaze on the road. Of course, I shouldn’t expect any help from him. He looks as tidy as ever, with his perfectly slicked hair and perfectly ironed uniform. Not a strand or thread out of place. Thomas might be several years younger than Metias and a subordinate on his patrol, but he’s more disciplined than anyone I know. Sometimes I wish I had that much discipline. He probably disapproves of my stunts even more than Metias does.

We leave downtown Los Angeles behind and travel up the winding highway in silence. The scenery changes from inner Batalla sector’s hundred-floor skyscrapers to densely packed barrack towers and civilian complexes, each one only twenty to thirty stories high, with red guiding lights blinking on their roofs, most with all their paint stripped off after this year’s rash of storms. Metal support beams crisscross their walls. I hope they get to upgrade those supports soon. The war’s been intense lately, and with several decades of infrastructure funding diverted to supplying the warfront, I don’t know if these buildings would hold up well in another earthquake.

After a few minutes, Metias continues in a calmer voice. “You really scared me today,” he says. “I was afraid they’d mistake you for Day and shoot at you.”

I know he doesn’t mean this as a compliment, but I can’t help smiling. I lean forward to rest my arms on top of his seat. “Hey,” I say, tugging his ear the way I did when I was a kid, “I’m sorry I made you worry.”

He lets out a scornful chuckle, but I can tell his anger is already fading. “Yeah. That’s what you say every time, Junebug. Is Drake not keeping your brain busy enough? If not, then I don’t know what will.”

“You know . . . if you’d just take me along on some of your missions, I’d probably learn a lot more and stay out of trouble.”

“Nice try. You’re not going anywhere until you graduate and get assigned to your own patrol.”

I bite my tongue. Metias did pick me once—once—for a mission last year, when all third-year Drake students had to shadow an assigned military branch. His commander sent him to kill a runaway prisoner of war from the Colonies. So Metias brought me along with him, and together we chased the POW deeper and deeper into our territory, away from the dividing fences and the strip of land running from Dakota to West Texas that separates the Republic and the Colonies, away from the warfront where airships dot the sky. I tracked him into an alley in Yellowstone City, Montana, and Metias shot him.

During the chase, I broke three ribs and had a knife buried in my leg. Now Metias refuses to take me anywhere.

When Metias finally speaks again, he sounds grudgingly curious. “So, tell me,” he whispers. “How fast did you climb those fourteen stories?”

Thomas makes a disapproving sound in his throat, but I break into a grin. Storm’s past. Metias loves me again. “Six minutes,” I whisper back to my brother. “And forty-four seconds. How do you like that?”

“That must be some sort of record. Not that, you know, you’re supposed to do it.”

Thomas stops the jeep right behind the lines at a red light and gives Metias an exasperated look. “Come on, Captain,” he says. “June—ah—Ms. Iparis won’t learn a thing if you keep praising her for breaking the rules.”

“Cheer up, Thomas.” Metias reaches over and claps him on the back. “Surely breaking a rule once in a while is tolerable, especially if you’re doing it to beef up your skills for the Republic’s sake. Victory against the Colonies. Right?”

The light blinks green. Thomas turns his eyes back to the road (he seems to count to three in his head before letting the jeep go forward). “Right,” he mutters. “You should still be careful what you’re encouraging Ms. Iparis to do, especially with your parents gone.”

Metias’s mouth tightens into a line, and a familiar, strained look appears in his eyes.

No matter how sharp my intuition is, no matter how well I do at Drake or how perfectly I score in defense and target practice and hand-to-hand combat, Metias’s eyes always hold that fear. He’s afraid something might happen to me one day—like the car crash that took our parents. That fear never leaves his face. And Thomas knows it.

I didn’t know our parents long enough to miss them in the same way Metias does. Whenever I cry over losing them, I cry because Idon’t have any memories of them. Just hazy recollections of long, adult legs shuffling around our apartment and hands lifting me from my high chair. That’s it. Every other memory from my childhood—looking out into the auditorium as I receive an award, or having soup made for me when I’m sick, or being scolded, or tucked into bed—those are with Metias.

We drive past half of Batalla sector and through a few poor blocks. (Can’t these street beggars stay a little farther from our jeep?) Finally we reach the gleaming, terraced high-rises of Ruby, and we’re home. Metias gets out first. As I follow, Thomas gives me a small smile.

“See you later, Ms. Iparis,” he says, tipping his hat.

I stopped trying to convince him to call me June—he’ll never change. Still, it’s not so bad being called something proper. Maybe when I’m older and Metias doesn’t faint at the idea of me dating . . .

“Bye, Thomas. Thanks for the ride.” I smile back at him before stepping out of the jeep.

Metias waits until the door has slammed shut before turning to me and lowering his voice. “I’ll be home late tonight,” he says. There’s that tension in his eyes again. “Don’t go out alone. News from the warfront is they’re cutting power to residences tonight to save energy for the airfield bases. So stay put, okay? The streets’ll be darker than usual.”

My heart sinks. I wish the Republic would hurry up and win this war already so that for once we might actually get a whole month of nonstop electricity. “Where are you going? Can I come with you?”

“I’m overseeing the lab at Los Angeles Central. They’re delivering vials of some mutated virus there—it shouldn’t take all night. And I already told you no. No missions.” Metias hesitates. “I’ll be home as early as I can. We have a lot to talk about.” He puts his hands on my shoulders, ignores my puzzled look, and gives me a quick kiss on my forehead. “Love you, Junebug,” he says, his trademark good-bye. He turns to climb back into the jeep.

“I’m not going to wait up for you,” I call after him, but by now he’s already inside and the jeep’s pulling away with him inside of it. “Be careful,” I murmur.

But it’s pointless to say now. Metias is too far away to hear me.

WHEN I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD, MY FATHER CAME home from the warfront for a week’s leave. His job was to clean up after the Republic’s soldiers, so he was usually gone, and Mom was left to raise us boys on her own. When he came home that time, the city patrols did a routine inspection of our house, then dragged Dad off to the local police headquarters for questioning. They’d found something suspicious, I guess.

The police brought him back with two broken arms, his face bloody and bruised.

Several nights later, I dipped a ball of crushed ice into a can of gasoline, let the oil coat the ice in a thick layer, and lit it. Then I launched it with a slingshot through the window of our local police headquarters. I remember the fire trucks that came whizzing around the corner shortly thereafter, and the charred remains of the police building’s west wing. They never found out who did it, and I never came forward. There was, after all, no evidence. I had committed my first perfect crime.

My mother used to hope that I would rise up from my humble roots. Become someone successful, or even famous.

I’m famous all right, but I don’t think it’s what she had in mind.

It’s nightfall again, a good forty-eight hours since the soldiers marked my mother’s door.

I wait in the shadows of a back alley one block from the Los Angeles Central Hospital and watch its staff spill in and out of the main entrance. It’s a cloudy night with no moon, and I can’t even make out the crumbling Bank Tower sign at the top of the building. Electric lights shine from each floor—a luxury only government buildings and the elite’s homes can afford. Military jeeps stack up along the street as they wait for approval to enter the underground parking lots. Someone checks them for proper IDs. I keep still, my eyes fixed on the entrance.

I look pretty awesome tonight. I’m wearing my good pair of shoes—boots made of dark leather worn soft over time, with strong laces and steel toes. Bought them with 150 Notes from our stash. I’ve hidden a knife flat against the sole of each boot. When I shift my feet, I can feel the cool metal against my skin. My black trousers are tucked into my boots and I carry a pair of gloves and a black handkerchief in my pockets. A dark, long-sleeved shirt is tied around my waist. My hair hangs loose down my shoulders. This time I’ve sprayed my white-blond strands a deep black, as if I’d dipped them in crude oil. Earlier in the day, Tess had traded five Notes for a bucket of pygmy pig’s blood from the back alley of a kitchen. My arms, stomach, and face are smeared with it. I’ve also streaked mud on my cheeks, for good measure.

The hospital spans the first twelve floors of the building, but I’m only interested in the one without windows. That’s the third floor, a laboratory, where the blood samples and medicines will be. From the outside, the third floor is completely hidden behind elaborate stone carvings and worn Republic flags. Behind the facade lies a vast floor with no halls and no doors—just a gigantic room, doctors and nurses behind white masks, test tubes and pipettes, incubators and gurneys. I know this because I’ve been there before. I was there the day I failed my Trial, the day I was supposed to die.

My eyes scan the side of the tower. Sometimes I can break into a building by running it from the outside, if there are balconies to leap from and window ledges to balance on. I once scaled a four-story building in less than five seconds. But this tower is too smooth, with no footholds. I’ll have to reach the lab from inside. I shiver a little even in the warmth and wish I’d asked Tess to come with me. But two trespassers are easier to catch than one. Besides, it’s not her family who needs medicine. I check to make sure I’ve tucked my pendant beneath my shirt.

A lone medic truck pulls up behind the military jeeps. Several soldiers climb out and greet the nurses while others unpack the truck’s boxes. The leader of the group is a young, dark-haired man dressed all in black, except for two rows of silver buttons that line his officer jacket. I strain to hear what he’s saying to one of the nurses.

“—from around the lake’s edge.” The man tightens his gloves. I catch a glimpse of the gun at his belt. “My men will be at the entrances tonight.”

“Yes, Captain,” the nurse says.

The man tips his cap to her. “My name’s Metias. If you have any questions, come see me.”

I wait until the soldiers have spread out around the hospital’s perimeter and the man named Metias has immersed himself in conversation with two of his men. Several more medic trucks come and go, dropping off soldiers, some with broken limbs, some with gashes on their heads or lacerations on their legs. I take a deep breath, then step out of the shadows and stumble toward the hospital’s entrance.

A nurse spots me first, just outside the main doors. Her eyes dart to the blood on my arms and face. “Can I be admitted, cousin?” I call to her. I wince in imaginary pain. “Is there still room tonight? I can pay.”

She looks at me without pity before she returns to scribbling on a notepad. Guess she doesn’t appreciate the “cousin” affection. An ID tag dangles from her neck. “What happened?” she asks.

I double over when I reach her and lean on my knees. “Was in a fight,” I say, panting. “I think I got stabbed.”

The nurse doesn’t look at me again. She finishes writing and then nods at one of the guards. “Pat him down.”

I stay where I am as two soldiers check me for weapons. I yelp on cue when they touch my arms or stomach. They don’t find the knives tucked in my boots. They do take the little pouch of Notes tied to my belt, my payment for entering the hospital. Of course.

If I was a goddy rich sector boy, I’d be admitted without charge. Or they’d send a doctor for free straight up to where I live.

When the soldiers give the nurse a thumbs-up, she points me toward the entrance. “Waiting room’s on the left. Have a seat.”

I thank her and stumble toward the sliding doors. The man named Metias watches me as I pass. He’s listening patiently to one of his soldiers, but I see him study my face as if out of habit. I make a mental note of his face too.

The hospital is ghostly white on the inside. To my left I see the waiting room, just like the nurse said, a huge space packed with people sporting injuries of all shapes and sizes. Many of them moan in pain—one person lies unmoving on the floor. I don’t want to guess how long some of them have been here, or how much they had to pay to get in. I note where all the soldiers are standing—two by the secretary’s window, two by the doctor’s door far in the distance, several near the elevators, each wearing ID tags—and then I drop my eyes to the floor. I shuffle to the closest chair and sit. For once, my bad knee helps my disguise. I keep my hands pressed against my side for good measure.

I count ten minutes off in my head, long enough so that new patients have arrived in the waiting room and the soldiers are less interested in me. Then I stand up, pretend to stumble, and lurch toward the closest soldier. His hand reflexively moves to his gun.

“Sit back down,” he says.

I trip and fall against him. “I need the bathroom,” I whisper, my voice hoarse. My hands tremble as I grab his black robes for balance. The soldier looks at me in disgust while some of the others snicker. I see his fingers creep closer to his gun’s trigger, but one of the other soldiers shakes his head. No shooting in the hospital. The soldier pushes me away and points toward the end of the hall with his gun.

“Over there,” he snaps. “Wipe some of that filth off your face. And if you touch me again, I’ll fill you with bullets.”

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Legend 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1103 reviews.
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to come up with this review, cause well I wasn't sure what to say. I love it so much that I am speechless. I don't think that words can do this book justice, but I will try to do my best with out spoiling it. What grabbed me the most about this book is the thrilling adventure that the plot goes on. So much excitement that fills with reader that is leave you reading faster. I enjoyed reading along as the plot plunged faster into amazing ride of fighting and adventure. The characters of this book were divine. Written so passionately, you feel the characters come alive in your heart as you feel their emotions. The betrayal, the hurt, the learning of truth that blinds their eyes. I admit that a certain parts of this book, my mouth hung open. Both characters, June and Day fight for what they believe and know. Many uncovered truths will shed light of what they really know. The love interest is just the way I like it. Complicated yet simple. Many obstacles stand in their way. I adore that June and Day are a perfect match. They are flawless, yet flawed. Strong, yet weak. Love, yet they sacrifice. These two make me want to laugh yet cry. As the reader, I hung to their every thought and emotion. I love it. If you want a well written, adventurous book, filled with non-stop exposed the evasive techniques of the government have you dodging every corner, every page turn. I loved that Ms. Lu created such a world that every reader can't contain themselves and we must share. Legend is an amazing book! It "Awed" me through and through. This book is a must read!
Linda Lai More than 1 year ago
There is just the right amount of action and romance in this book to keep me hooked! It reminds me very much of the hunger games and has the same idea. Two teens are forced to hunt each other down but end up falling in love and they end up questioning all they have ever known. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone!
remaven More than 1 year ago
To everyone who loved the Hunger Games books this is at least as good if not better. The story and characters grabbed me from page 1. Why this is classified as a young adult (Hunger Games was also young adult) is beyond me as I believe all ages will enjoy it. Going to be a bestseller or I don't know my books!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read if youre looking for something to read after the Hunger Games trilogy. Amazingly written with characters you feel deeply connected to. I highly recommend this as a MUST READ!!!
Amabe421 More than 1 year ago
I had been hearing so many great things about this book and I was really excited to read it. I won an audio book version from A Life Bound By Books. I have listened to audio books before, but this is my first time actually reviewing one. I absolutely loved the book. The characters are very well developed and the story progressed at a great pace. I loved hearing the book switch back and forth from Day's perspective to June's. They are both such strong, smart characters full passion for the things they believe in. The narrators for the audio book were fantastic. They really portrayed the characters well. I instantly liked Day. He is a very compassionate and caring person. He is not just a lowly criminal. I really loved getting to know his character and why he is a "criminal" on the streets. There is so much to the story of Day, and I was shocked at how things unfolded. June is a very likable character too. She is The Republic's prodigy. Perfect score on the test. She is also a bit of a trouble maker, which is fun. We first meet her when she is getting in trouble for scaling the side of a building off campus. She's very smart, strong, and brave. She is insightful, and not someone to mess with. I loved the interactions between Day and June, both when she didn't know who he really was, and especially after. There is so much more going on than you would think at first. There are a lot of surprises. This story is so well crafted and intriguing. It really blew me away! It is now solidly in my top favorites for dystopian novels. It's action packed, suspenseful, emotional, and just phenomenal.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I feel almost guilty giving this a three. It seems like everyone who has read it so far has really liked it. But I found it really predictable and slow at times. I do have to admit that what this story has going for it is the characters. Day and June are what kept me reading. Day is really the key to this story. I was instantly intrigued by the fact that Day disappeared on the day of his test and then went on to become the most wanted criminal in the Republic. I loved the fact that nobody knew who he really was or even what he looked like. His criminal activities reminded me of a futuristic Robin Hood. And as we get to know him better, I realized how smart this guy is. And not just book smart, but all around mentally equipped to deal with anything. I really began to wonder how he failed his test. I wasn't sure what to think of June at first. I disliked that she blindly followed the Republic. But then she's been raised to believe in it. I was really impressed with her tracking skills and her ability to access any situation. I was a little surprised at how long it took her to realize that the boy who saved her from the fight was really Day. And then I was even more shocked that she turned him at the drop of a hat. But even she wasn't expecting the events that unfolded that made her question all that she had been taught. It was the storyline that really got to me. While the truth behind everything wasn't known to me until June uncovers it, I had basic ideas behind everything that was going. Nothing surprised me. Since the story seemed to follow a formula, I sometimes didn't feel a need to turn the page as quickly as some other stories. I still think I will read the next one though. I wonder how deep the viciousness of this government goes. Plus, I really did like Day and June.
kearytaylor More than 1 year ago
I'm not totally sure how to word this review. I really, really wanted to love Legend. I really did. It got a lot of hype, I've seen great reviews on it, and it's selling really well. But, I just didn't... love it. I think my main problem was that there was almost too much detail and not enough at the same time. I felt like about a quarter of the detail there was in the book could have been left out, and then from there the book needed to be about twice as long as it was. I never felt like I fully understood the world of Legend, and I never really loved the characters that much. I hate to say it, but I think Legend is a book that I won't remember much about 6 months from now. Man, I feel terrible writing this review... I will say that I will read the next book. I do think it may be better, with more world building and more development behind the characters. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
Poverty, war, plague, fighting, family, romance, friendship. Legend is a dystopian novel that has it all. This is not a pretty book disguised as a dystopian read, this has got some definite grittiness to it, just the way it should be. The story switches back and forth from the views of June and Day ¿ who should be complete opposites due to the way they were raised, but are more alike than anyone realizes. The government might have an idea, but we aren¿t sure who is behind it all. This book has a lot of action which makes it very easy to read in a short amount of time. It just keeps going and going and going and no character is safe, you never know who is going to turn up good, bad, or dead. Yes, many people will compare it to the Hunger Games for the dystopian society, but Legend stands on its own and I think the more reluctant readers will gravitate towards this series for its non-stop and fast paced action. The romance is there too, it¿s not overly heavy, which is perfect for the book as it is a fight to survive type of read. While politics are a major part of the book it isn¿t complicated to follow what¿s going on and it isn¿t thrown in your face, it¿s just providing reasoning for why the world is the way it is. Some of the major problems that arise are seen to completion by the end of this book, but others are left open so that we have something to look forward to. It¿s a big storyline piece that will continue on and I certainly can¿t wait to grab the second book and find out the whys, who¿s, and what¿s of it all. Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the plot and the characters:) (Day rocks!!!) This book is a must read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever!!!!!! Can't wait until the second one comes out!!!
Tom2612 More than 1 year ago
I cant put it down
AcesMommy More than 1 year ago
Legend by Marie Lu is AWESOME!! I really liked the flow that Marie Lu vividly illustrated through her well written story. I was surprised on how deeply engaged I was because I had my doubts with the simplicity of its cover, but within that cover there is nothing simple about it. Rich in action, intrigue, and suspense, a dystopian novel that will keep you awake through all hours of the night. Legend beckons you and I can't help but to ask for more! Daniel "Day" Altan Wing took his trials when he was only 10 years old. Every kid in the Republic takes their trials at 10. It decides whether they will be placed in the higher rankings of society or be one among the back breaking laborers living in the slums. And Day was among those who failed. With poor results he was taken into the labor camps along with the other children who didn't receive high scores. The twist is, there isn't such a thing as the labor camps. And all those who went, never came back or seen again. June is the prodigy of the Republic. She is the only one who scored a perfect 1500 on her trials. A bright future is ahead for her; and at such a young age (15 years) she's already a well decorated officer. Everything runs smoothly for June until Day comes along and kills her older brother, Metias. Left with no parents and now her brother, she begins her agenda of bringing down the Republic's elusive criminal, Day, and she's going to make sure he's going to get what he deserves. Legend by Marie Lu alternates from Day's voice to June's, but you will never mistake who your reading. Along with each character having their own designated color text, Day's being gold text and June's being black, each of the two is a distinct character with two complete different voices. I am amazed on how fluid I read Legend. It doesn't skip a beat; when June stops her tale Day picks it right back up where she left off. Another favorite I will add to my collection. I am on the edge of my seat eager for Legend's sequel!! I RECOMMEND!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book....man what can I say. No spoilers here I promise. I just want someone else to get this message and take a chance on a new book series. If your like me, books drive you crazy. They become a part of you and they take you on an emotional rollercoaster that is heart wrenchingand its hard because one else would understand unless they read the same book. Before reading this series I had previously finished a series that had an ending so horribly sad I threw the book down and refused to finish the end for a week. Needless to say, it was difficult to open my heart and mind to another book when there was a possibility of getting my heart broken yet again. But this book.....it's worth every tear you cry. I couldn't put it down and it consumed my thoughts, heck it still does. Halfway through the third book Champion I was afraid to continue for fear of a horrible ending. But I finished it anyways. And I'm so glad I did. Yes the ending was bittersweet and I did cry for a long time, but this series is worth it I promise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has left me speechless.At the end of every chapter it left a mystery, a mystery that would have me in suspense hurring to finish the person im on(june or day). This book has made me sad,happy,puzzled,and mad at the same time. It also has romance too which leaves me breathless. This book as all you need if your a girl like me. I garentee this book will leave you at the edge of your seat and make you sad and leave thebook alone............but you would have to pick it up again. Also this book is so good that i actually got in trouble for reading this on our vacation. I cant help it that its good. But anyway the question was " is this book better than HUNGER GAMES?" in my opinion ...........yes now dont be mad Hunger Games lovers its just a opinion. I guess i have mixed emotions about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont get all these super long ratings. One word wraps this book up-AMAZING!!!!! The two main characters- Day, a notorius outlaw that is just trying to help everyone (except the republic) and June, the only person who got a 1500 on her Trial plus the fact that she is a Republic prodije with a Republic brother make the two an unlikely duo. Can June and Day uncover the truth- and save John, Metias, Eden, Tess, Day's mother, and possibly the WORLD??? whether ur a republic soldier, a colonies spy, or a rebel you'll LOVE this thrilling adventure story.
epicrat More than 1 year ago
In the words of Barney Stinson, this book is LEGEN…wait for it…DARY – and it definitely does not disappoint if you have been anxiously salivating for LEGEND since Kristin Nelson first mentioned it early 2011. Each page will grip you by the shirt and pull you deeper into this strange America where everything seems to function on cleverly-disguised lies. Who to trust, who to believe, who to discard, who to protect, is there anyone who is genuine enough to do the right thing after learning the truth? THE GOOD BITS {Reminescent of Ender’s Game and Divergent} There are good books, and there are GREAT books that leave you feeling exhilarated after reading them – and it is always thrilling to discover new books like LEGEND that fall ahead of the curve. ENDER’S GAME is one of my gold standards, and I am more than happily surprised to discover 2 books this year that come close to its greatness. There is something riveting about having child prodigies discover that their adult superiors may be manipulating them and enact in a fit of rebellion. {Day and June} I loved how well these two main characters played off each other. Although they came from different backgrounds, they both came to the chessboard with equal intelligence and resourcefulness. As much as I love Day, I will have to say that I favor June more. Most likely because she happens to be a girl who can kick butt both physically and mentally, but also because I think that LEGEND turned out to be more about June. Day may have greeted me at page 1 and had some problems of his own, but in my opinion, June did more of the dirty work of avenging her brother’s death, going undercover to sniff out Day’s whereabouts, learning the real truth about the Republic, and deciding whose side she wants to be on. THE BAD BITS {Not enough world-building} I had been hoping that LEGEND would go into how exactly North America split into two warring factions. While there is mention of the Republic and the Colonies, it does not come with a whole lot of details attached. LEGEND focuses more on the corruption within the Republic, and while that is all fascinating, how do the Colonies play into this? I am hoping the answers lie within the next book, especially considering Book 1 leaves Day and June on the very edge of new and even bigger chessboard. THE OVERALL LEGEND is well worth the wait – whether you read it now or wait until the rest of the series releases. Marie Lu has crafted a new world that stems from the familiar and branches into something wholly innovative. Smart, sensational, and oh-so-sicker-than-slick, LEGEND contains nothing but the best parts – and if a movie is in the making, all I have to say is: GAME ON!
afeedingplaceforanimals More than 1 year ago
This is such a gripping tale that will bring all your childhood fantasies to life.
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
Marie Lu is a fantastic writer. A well written, very satisfying read
readingbear1 More than 1 year ago
In Legend, Day, the most wanted criminal of the Republic and prime suspect of Metias’ murder, and June, Metias’ sister and the Republic's most prized military girl, become the most unlikely partners as they work together to discover secrets of their corrupt country. Living two different sides of life, they are both in a republic at war with two groups, the colonies, whom they have been fighting with for a very long time, and the Patriots, a well organized group who work against the Republic. In the beginning, Day has to hide from his family to keep them safe while June, with a perfect score on her trial, lives happily with her rich family. Day’s family is one of the unluckiest of all because having a wanted criminal, a brother who looks exactly like the wanted criminal, and Eden, who is suffering from the plague all in your family isn’t the best match. Two polar opposites colliding to uncover the secrets of the Republic including what the plague really is, what happens to the kids who fail their trials, and what might happen to them if they know too much. Legend is a very insightful story and I would definitely suggest it. The storyline is told perfectly with vivid details and the motives of the characters are very clear which is important to me. It gets you to think about how our world could be run and how our future could end up. I would recommend this book to anyone that can read at its level, as it is very gripping and the setting is described to make you feel like you’re actually there. It also has a sequel, Prodigy, which goes into greater detail about the wars and rebellions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly reccomend! This start to the series doesn't even compare to what the rest of the series has to offer. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down! Can't wait to read prodigy and champion! Seriously, if you liked the hunger games, divergent, maze runner (more like scorch trials in regards to that series), or other amazing post apocalyptic series like such, I highly recommend that you dive into this one! ??
Anna_Joleen More than 1 year ago
Today’s topic is: LEGEND.  Literally.  This is all I did today (besides work.)  I started reading this book at about 9:30 this morning, read till 1:30, came back from work at 8, read till 10 and now here we are. This book is filled with action and I never got bored.  Every single move of either Day or June made sense to me and I never rolled my eyes at anything they did.  I was generally impressed.  In fact, I actually marveled at some of the heists these two pulled off. As for the writing style, it is absolutely exquisite.  This is the type of writing style that I strive to someday accomplish.  I never once flipped forward in this book to read ahead! It’s a pretty big deal for me to be that interested in a story. From others, I have heard that this book has been compared to the Hunger Games and many people believe that Legend is better.  Although I LOVE the Hunger Games series, I think I’m starting to agree with them.  Or at least, I declare it a tie.  They have similar premises: a Dystopian setting with a hidden agenda.  However, I think each book has merit of their own. For example, I really liked the Hunger Games because I felt like the romance wasn’t the main focus of the story and I liked the entire idea of the games.  That series will always be in my top favorite series.  As for Legend, I liked the changing POV between Day and June and I also enjoyed how kickass they both were.  I also enjoyed that there was a bit of uncertainty of who was good and who was bad. So, overall, I’m giving this book 10 stars and two thumbs up.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and if a book makes me read all day long, I call that a win.  I definitely will be reading the sequel soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I really felt like I knew the charecters feelings and thoughts. Everybody says this book is terrible, but consider that the author is only in highschool. She wanted to write a series of books so here thay are. She is one of the youngest writers I have heard of so give her a break. I love this series. June and Day are so different, but they come together. When that happens they are the most powerfull children in the world. This is why I give this book 5.5 stars. I know this is more than five stars but this book deserves it by far. I really do hope you enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book literally took my breath away, I even made my English teacher read it, she was also obsessed. The book is amazing and it makes me want to get up and write a book. I love it and I totally recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely amazing read!!!