Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy (Legend #2)
Marie Lu

Putnam Juvenile
Releases January 29, 2013 (tomorrow!)
384 pages
YA / Dystopian

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June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. 

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

There were several debut releases last year that knocked out a large part of the book blogger community, while leaving me a bit disinterested. Legend was one of these books. It felt too familiar and featured two main characters of different gender, who sounded exactly the same. I had a hard time buying them as 15-year-olds despite the continued references to their extreme excellence and how they were prodigies in what they did. I just didn’t really get into it.

But like with Insurgent, this second volume in the Legend series left me engaged and stuck to the page until the end. All the flaws I found with its predecessor seemed to be resolved with the exception of not buying June and Day as being 15. The two characters have their own voices, distinctively different in this volume with an emphasis made on June being meticulously analytical and observant of the minutest of details while Day is impulsive and emotional. I didn’t need the change in fonts and colors to distinguish whose chapter I was reading – the writing and voice of the character clearly determined who was telling the story.

I love seeing the wider world of dystopias and Prodigy takes us outside of Los Angeles, where the entire first book takes place. Lu presents the military installation that was once Las Vegas, the capital of Denver, and the war-front city of Lamar. The story even ventures out into the Colonies, previously thought to be a utopian world compared to the Republic, but instead a warped corporate world full of advertising and commercialism. The Colonies – or at least the small part provided in Prodigy – is a brightly colored twilight zone of confusion to Day and June, while feeling oddly familiar to me. It’s a nice juxtaposition to the dictatorship of the Republic, while keeping it from being the obvious better choices for our characters.

The biggest surprise comes in the form of Anden, a character briefly introduced in Legend as a bit of a smooth talker with smarmy intentions who happened to be the son of the Elector. After getting more screen time in Prodigy, he becomes a much clearer character with clear intentions and a relatable vulnerability that is interesting to see in someone in power. It made the separation of Day and June so early in the book more bearable, providing June someone to play off of so she didn’t get stuck in her head.

The plot was fast, moving from one explosive event to the next. A particular chase scene is impressively written and might have caused my heart to race only to have it break at the chase’s conclusion. I like that the big reveal that put the story’s conclusion into play didn’t come from an info dump, but arrived organically. The conclusion of the book seemed a bit convenient, maybe even a little over dramatic, but in the case of this particular story, melodrama seems to fit. A final development towards the very end seems like it comes straight from a soap opera, but it’s another thing to keep June and Day apart, and they must stay apart – there’s still another volume in the series!

Prodigy was exponentially more interesting to me than Legacy with fully developed characters with distinct voices involved in an emotional and engaging plot. Lu’s world is so much larger now and it provides so many new facets to her story. June and Day still don’t seem like they’re 15-years-old, but it doesn’t matter – the characters are engaging and their adventures have even further reaching consequences. Marie Lu definitely made me a fan of her characters and world with this one.


I received an advanced copy of this book from the publishers back in July at Comic Con. In return, I give them my honest review.