Legend, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Legend, Book 1

Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Educational value

Legend doesn't pretend to be much more than a fast-paced, futuristic, romantic adventure. Its dystopian setting, however, does provide food for thought regarding the abuse of governmental power and how mass media can be used to control the population.

Positive messages

Legend is set in a militaristic dystopia, but the actions of the main characters point out the chinks in its foundation. With courage and fortitude, Day and June are able to outwit the authorities.

Positive role models

Both Day and June are highly capable individuals: smart, resourceful, compassionate. Neither, however, has a full understanding of how life in the Republic works, and as their eyes are opened to the inhuman behavior of the authorities, they learn to use their skills against the ruling regime.


Legend contains a fair amount of violence. The authorities in the Republic are not shy in doling out punishment to anyone who stands in their way. Beatings, shootings, torture, and public executions are all depicted, although the bloodiest aspects are not dwelled upon. Characters important to Day and June are killed. Day, in particular, is on the receiving end of a lot of physical punishment. June participates in a public fighting match and injures her opponent.


June and Day are attracted to each other from their first meeting. Eventually, they come to trust each other enough to exchange a passionate kiss that both remember long afterward. Due to the hairpin turns of the plot, there are unable to repeat the experience until the end of the novel.


June and Day employ a very light sprinkling of "hell" and "damn," but only in the most intense exchanges.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There is one scene set in a fight establishment where alcohol is served. Neither Day nor June partake.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Legend by Marie Lu is a slick dystopian thriller has echoes of The Hunger Games and Orwell's 1984 but focuses more on star-crossed infatuation than the excesses of the totalitarian state. It's the first of a trilogy. 

What's the story?

Day and June are teenagers on opposite sides of a dystopian regime in what was once Los Angeles. Day is the ultimate outlaw, stealing money and medical supplies for his family and others. June is being groomed for leadership within the ruling party. After June's beloved older brother is killed, all clues point toward Day, and she vows revenge at any cost. Neither Day nor Joy is prepared for what will happen when their paths eventually cross.

Is it any good?


Another dystopian science-fiction adventure featuring talented kids on the run, LEGEND has a crisp set-up and a stylish execution. The bad guys are a little too on-the-nose, and the good guys triumph a little too easily, at least in the short term. What the novel lacks in intellectual complexity it makes up in emotional resonance and narrative drive. Lu has quickly joined the top rank of this growing genre. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how governments can mislead their citizens. How does the Republic control the flow of information to both insiders and outsiders?

  • A plague has afflicted Day's family and their neighborhoods. Do medical crises ever affect governmental policy in real life? What diseases might cause a government to issue quarantines?

  • Enemies of the state are publicly executed in the Republic. What are your opinions about the death penalty as practiced today? Does it deter crime? Are innocent people ever executed?

Book details

Author:Marie Lu
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Putnam Juvenile
Publication date:November 29, 2011
Number of pages:336

This review of Legend, Book 1 was written by

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Teen, 17 years old Written byKatnissSwift6 June 17, 2012

Love this book

This one of the best books I have ever read!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 11 year old Written bycuriouslurker April 20, 2013

Good for tweens/younger teens

This book is an easy read for adults and fairly tame, compared to other popular dystopian YA fiction out there. Other than the relatively mild violence, there is little for the average parent to worry about. There is a little romance, but nothing more than attraction and a kiss or two. There are no "big" swear words. It was a bit simplistic for my more mature taste, but I can see why the tweens love it. I would definitely let my 10 year old read it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byjenjen15 February 19, 2012

Refreshing Read

This was a pretty good book. It was very entertaining and captivating, seeing I finished it in one day. It was incredibly fast paced and action packed, but at the same time, it was very easy to follow what was happening. Legend wasn't exactly what I had expected it to be, a thrilling dystopia about a girl who scoured the country for this one boy who is the prime suspect in her brother's murder. I had expected the two main characters to battle it out constantly and eventually find a burning passion for each other in an unexpected turn of events. I had expected one of the characters, June perhaps, to have a terrible hate for herself when she discovered her true feelings for Day. In Legend, I found some of what I had hoped, but mostly I found a generic average post-dystopian plot. I was a little disappointed, and thought the story line could have been a little more climatic and engaging, but I was still satisfied. This book reminded me of Uglies by Scott Westerfield, except faster paced and more interesting.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models