Champion (Legend, #3) by Marie Lu
Published by Putnam Juvenile on November 5, 2013
Genres: young adult, dystopian fiction, young adult romance, science fiction
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NOTE: THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW. DON’T READ IT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING.
Dystopian finales (heck, trilogies in general) almost always disappoint me, and, unfortunately, that world “almost” is for another review (of a book which just happens to be both).
When I read Legend, I was a little confused as to where all the hype was coming from. In my opinion, the book had potential, but, as far as YA dystopians go, stuck to the formula and was not anything spectacular. Yet it was this spark of potential that prompted me to read Prodigy.
I did, and was pleasantly surprised. Where Legend followed the beaten path, Prodigy blazed its own, a route full of surprises and tropes flipped upside down. Not only was it remarkable for the series; it was remarkable for its genre.
So, needless to say, I came into Champion with somewhat high expectations. Everything was going great, but I was worried about the emotionally crippling ending other readers warned me about, as they had not explained what that ending was, and I had avoided spoilers. Then the ending happened, and I was left frustrated and upset, wondering why I wasted my time on this series in the first place only to be stabbed in the heart like that.
On another note: Ms. Lu, you are evil. I like you, but I didn’t like that.
I’m going to separate this review into two categories: what I liked, and what I didn’t like. Let’s get to it.
What I liked
There is always something happening in this book, whether it’s a high-speed chase, a gunfight, or an emotional breakdown, which makes Champion quite the thrill ride. This, in turn, keeps you glued to the pages and makes for a quick read; I finished the book in only a few days, and never felt it was lagging. The characters are doing things that actually matter to the big picture, and that was nice to see.
Marie Lu has been consistent with her characters throughout this trilogy. She’s let them grow organically, and she’s allowed them to face challenges without cushioning them from the impact. This results in characters I can both sympathize with and root for, which, for me, is key in a book.
I also love Lu’s emphasis on family in this book. Day’s always trying to take care of his younger brother, Eden, and both he and June are still processing the grief that comes with losing family members. As I said in my review of the first book, not only is that realistic, but it really makes you feel for the characters. I was glad this continued into the end of the series.
What I didn’t like
I don’t mind romance in my books. I don’t mind two characters being in love (unless it’s Twilight and the romance makes you want to rip the book to shreds because both characters are whiny and clingy and have no identity outside of each other and NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS in the book, but that’s for another time). June and Day’s relationship is something beautiful and strong and fierce, and it was a joy to read about.
However, I have a complaint, with begins with a question.
SPOILER: Okay, how old were they in this book? Sixteen? (I know they’re both the same age, it’s just a matter of figuring out what that is.) Because, in this book, they sleep together, and knowing how young they are really bothered me. I understand that this might have been the natural progression for their relationship to take and that it’s just a story, but I felt that, by including this in the book, Ms. Lu is condoning this behavior for teenagers. You really love him/her? Okay, go ahead and sleep with them! Never mind that you two haven’t really known each other very long and both of you are sixteen years old.
Keep in mind that I say this as a teenager, and as someone who is in contact with many, many other teens via high school. I was sixteen or so when I read this series, and, when I thought about myself or any of my contemporaries making those kind of decisions, I felt sick. Kids our age, even if they’re more mature than most, aren’t mature enough for that kind of commitment. (I speak from experience when I say this, both personally and from watching what’s gone on with others.) I’m just saying: this is not good advice to give to teens that young, IMO, and, as teens are the main audience for this series, I just feel it’s not a good message to send.
MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILERS: The Ending
Did Day really have to lose his memory? I know some sort of brain injury was inevitable in this case, but I feel like the series as a whole really didn’t need that whole “Day’s gonna die” subplot. It felt manufactured solely for the sake of more drama.
Again, I applaud Ms. Lu for following the story and “going there,” but that whole “I loved you, but now I don’t remember you” trope has been done to death, and its inclusion in this book really dampened my appreciation for the series as a whole. I thought it was better than that.
Though I was disappointed by this conclusion for the reasons listed above, I will say that Ms. Lu is definitely a skilled writer whose work I’d like to read more of. Though I really didn’t enjoy The Young Elites, I am planning on checking out future books of hers, which hopefully will be less disappointing.