Legend, Book 1

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

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 68 reviews

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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 10 and 13-year-old Written byBibliophileMadness April 13, 2019

A great introduction to romance and dystopias!

I read this when I was twelve, and it is one of the first things that I recommend to kids my age. It is the kind of story that grips your attention from the ver... Continue reading
Adult Written byTeacherFifth July 22, 2018

Great Read

I teach fifth grade and think this is a great book. It's pushing the border for a majority of the fifth graders, but for very mature and stable readers, t... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 21, 2017

This is by far the best series I've read!

I loved this book series. It's nice to see a butt-kicking heroine as the min character of a book. Day was also a character you connect to very easily and q... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySlyScarletWard June 11, 2015

Epic Book

I brought this book with me to a week long field trip, and four people, including me, read it. I finished it in two days, and got the person sleep under me to r... 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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