Legend: The Graphic Novel

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Legend: The Graphic Novel Book Poster Image
Graphic adaptation of popular sci-fi novel seems oddly flat.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The emphasis of Legend: The Graphic Novel is on action, but the book's exploration of the abuse of governmental power can be used as a springboard for discussion.

Positive Messages

Outward appearances are shown to be deceptive in Legend. Just because someone comes from a certain social class doesn't mean he or she is incapable of independent thought.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Day might be the most-wanted criminal in the country, but his motives are more complicated than they first appear. June may seem to have an easy life as an elite, but she has to face adversity with courage and resourcefulness.

Violence

Although the amount of bloodshed is kept to a minimum, Legend: The Graphic Novel contains many scenes of violence. Children undergo medical procedures that end up killing them. A character dies after being slashed by a thrown blade. Street gangs instigate fights. A character is executed by a firing squad, and another character witnesses the shooting death of his mother.

Sex

June and Day are clearly attracted to each other. They share a passionate kiss, from which they quickly pull away.

Language

"Hell" and "damn" are used less than a dozen times each. "Bastard" is employed once or twice.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

June and Day share a bottle of wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Legend: The Graphic Novel adapts the first volume of Marie Lu's popular trilogy. It captures the main points of the plot but leaves out much of its subtlety. Although it mostly refrains from depicting graphic bloodshed, Legend does feature many scenes of violence, including gunplay, medical experimentation on children, a fatal stabbing, and an execution by firing squad. A boy sees his mother shot in the head. Sexual content is limited to one brief passionate kiss. Two teens share a bottle of wine. "Hell" and "damn" are used less than a dozen times.

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What's the story?

Perpetually at war with its neighbors, the Colonies, the Republic of America needs young military leaders just like 15-year-old June. A genuine prodigy, June is obedient and committed to her country. But when her beloved brother is killed, she begins to question what she's been taught. When she meets Day, the Republic's most-wanted criminal, she begins to see the brutality of the regime to which she's devoted her life.

Is it any good?

Legend was not a novel that lends itself easily to adaptation as a graphic novel. There's plenty of action in LEGEND: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, but the incidents and the characters somehow seem disconnected from each other. Divorced from Lu's prose, the adapted dialogue seems stiff. The manga-influenced artwork by Kaari does depict action scenes with clarity and style, but the story's quieter moments don't always ring true. Fans of the novels may enjoy this adaptation, but readers eager to explore Lu's futuristic setting would be better off starting with the original books.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why dystopian visions of the future are so prevalent in books and movies. What's so compelling about that kind of a society?

  • If you've read Legend in novel form, how do you think the graphic novel compares? Do you like it as much?

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