Review: Champion by Marie Lu

Champion
Marie Lu
Putnam Juvenile
Released November 5, 2013
369 pages
YA / Dystopian

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He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

I’m spending the next little while finishing up some trilogies that I only have the last book left to read. There has been a lot of dissatisfaction going around about a lot of the series enders that have come out this year, so I was incredibly cautious going into Champion. While I enjoyed Legend, I didn’t become a big cheerleader for it and found it just okay, lacking world building and predictable in plot, but with intriguing characters that I liked spending time with. Then came Prodigy, which sucked me in and took me on a crazy adventure, so I had no idea which side of the fence I would be after reading Champion.

SPOILERS FOR LEGACY AND PRODIGY AHEAD

Champion picks up nine months after the end of Prodigy with Day getting treated on one side of the country for his brain tumor/anomaly thing and facing just a few more months of life and June acting as advisor to the elector on the other side of the country. June has no idea Day is dying, Day has no idea that the fragile peace he helped create at the end of the previous book is quickly dissolving into a potential war. Of course they end up having to come together in the middle of chaos and violence to save themselves, those they care about and the entire country. Because in books it’s perfectly normal for the fate of a country to rest on the shoulders of a couple 16-year-olds.

Lu continues to present the story through the alternating perspectives of Day and June with Day spending a lot of time confused about his feelings towards June and the government, how to best care for his younger brother and the excruciating headaches that have become more frequent, a constant reminder of his imminent death. June spends her chapters lost for a purpose, feeling out of place and detached from everything around her even after being reunited with Day to act as an anchor. It’s an interesting dynamic, drastically different from the over confident and cavalier attitudes from the previous books. It’s surprising to see characters seeming so defeated when they supposedly won.

I had a similar reaction to Champion as I did to Legend – I enjoyed the ride, but there wasn’t anything leaving me a flailing mess of feels or pushing me to tell everyone that they must read this book right now. You’d think after sludging through A Dance with Dragons, this would have been even more appealing, fast paced and plot driven with adventure and world building in spades, but by the time I’d turned the last page, I was ready to move on to the next book and another adventure that I could hopefully get lost in a little more.

I really enjoyed seeing Ross City – the incredibly affluent capital of Antarctica, where life has literally been turned into a game, complete with levels and point systems. I want stories that take place completely within the frame work of that society and was a little sad to not see more scenes set in this incredibly intriguing city. It was like Lu gave me a tiny taste of an amazing dessert and then snatched it away to be replaced by something far more commonplace and familiar. Perhaps that peak of something so strange and new (and so early on too) dampened my enjoyment of the rest of the book.

That glimpse of something so random and special made everything else seem like a bit of a rehash from previous books – doubts that the past couldn’t be overcome to maintain a relationship between Day and June, the populace trusting Day over the government, running and climbing and setting off bombs to cause chaos among the enemy. It was all very familiar and a little disappointing knowing there was this new thing just out of reach.

Even though the end of Champion brings back the melodrama soap opera feel of the final scenes in Prodigy, the bittersweet emotion filling the epilogue really worked within the context of the character’s development while leaving a bit of hope. I could finally completely empathize with June, which is strange considering she’s mourning her brother throughout the trilogy. She stopped being so analytical and cautious, and it genuinely made me said for her inevitable fate.

It was a satisfactory ending to a series that will probably count as forgettable in my book. There isn’t anything spectacular about the Legend series that makes it stand out in a sea of post-apocalyptic/dystopian worlds. It has interesting characters, but not particularly memorable ones. Hints to interesting and unique things are set aside for more standard plot lines. It’s an interesting adventure while reading it, but nearly forgettable once completed.