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Legend, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Legend, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 52 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 i... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 year old Written byArtemisFDaughter May 11, 2015

Really good!

It's a great post-apocalyptic YA novel. Some close family members do get killed and there is some violence, but not too horrible.
Teen, 17 years old Written byKatnissSwift6 June 17, 2012

Love this book

This one of the best books I have ever read!
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 t... Continue reading

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. 

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love science fiction

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