Prodigy (Legend, #2) by Marie Lu
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 29, 2013
Genres: young adult, dystopian fiction, young adult romance, science fiction
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Normally, I notice this pattern with dystopian trilogies. If you’ve read enough of them, I’m sure you’ve noticed the pattern, too.
In book one, the hero/heroine lives a bleak, normal, miserable life in their world until he/she discovers a horrifying secret about their totalitarian government/society, which causes them to rethink everything they’ve known about the world around them and rebel.
In book two, they join the resistance, usually becoming its new face, and inspire the citizens of that society to revolt against their government in the name of freedom. Usually, the second book is a hit or a miss, mainly because there is little to no diversion from this formula. There’s almost always a love interest involved, who also serves as a convenient ransom for the government to use against the character should things go wrong, too.
I figured this book would be no different. But that’s where I was wrong.
Because, in all truth, Prodigy really surprised me. It took the storyline everyone reading YA dystopian fiction is familiar with by now and tied that storyline into a bunch of complicated knots. Untangling everything was fascinating.
I’ll separate this review into the same categories as I did with Legend, just for continuity’s sake. So, here we go. 😀
While I felt Legend‘s world-building was its biggest flaw and I still would have liked more explanation about how this society functions and how it came to be, I felt we saw a different side of the Republic in this book. In this book, there is no “good” or “bad” side, and it’s very interesting to watch the characters come to terms with that, even as they bind themselves to one side or another with their promises.
Elector Anden, in particular, was a highlight of this book for me, not necessarily because of his character, but because he’s so different from all the other government leaders in various dystopian books. Not only was he kind, but he’s also not selfish and power-hungry, a welcome deviation from a path that’s been beaten to death by villains like President Snow from The Hunger Gamesand Jeanine Matthews from Divergent. He wants the best for his country and his people, and seeing him try to achieve that in the midst of the Republic’s unrest was fascinating. It added a lot more depth to his character.
SPOILER: Also, I loved how the Patriots turn out to be sponsored by the Republic itself, and how just because the Patriots are fighting for change in the Republic doesn’t automatically make them the good guys. That was genius. It added a lot more depth and realism to the Republic as a whole, in my opinion.
June and Day both really grew in this book. Both of them—especially Day—are still scarred by their government, and seeing them process that trauma instead of it being glossed over was both believable and all the more a reason I was rooting for them. It was amazing to see them grow from extraordinary teens into leaders interested in the good and safety of themselves and their people. They still read like older teens than they’re supposed to be (I think they’re both sixteen here), but this didn’t bother me as much as it did in the first book.
On another note, there were still a few instances where they were eerily on the same page and things were a little too convenient, but, again, this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book as much as it did in the first one.
June and Day’s relationship takes on a different dimension in this book, which was really cool to see. They’re great separately, but they really kick butt when they’re together. I loved how their devotion to each other never detracted from their development as separate characters. Instead, it enhanced each one’s personality. Their age and the time span of their relationship was still an issue for me here, but not as much as in Legend.
SPOILER: Also, two love triangles? Whoa. Normally, that would make me seethe, but here, it wasn’t too much of an issue, maybe because I felt it didn’t overpower the rest of the book.
So, all in all, a definite improvement on the first and a great addition to the trilogy. (Probably my favorite book in it, actually.)