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Pseudo-review (of sorts) for Legend by Marie Lu - Disorderly Coconuts [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
うさ-p: It got all pruny in the brain water.

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Pseudo-review (of sorts) for Legend by Marie Lu [Jan. 23rd, 2013|01:17 pm]
うさ-p: It got all pruny in the brain water.
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Because usomitai helped choose the last book I read, I agreed I'd offer my opinion in exchange.

This is not exactly a review because writing does not come naturally to me at all. For me, as a means to communicate, putting words on paper/screen is like undergoing a tracheotomy. I've been composing this entry in my head for two days now, organizing thoughts, editing sentences, rearranging paragraphs, and this end result is not going to be anything like it's supposed to be at all. It already isn't. Those last sentences? Not part of the plan! But the point is this: part of my appreciation for the art of the written word comes from the fact that I am under no delusion that I'm going to write the great American novel one day. Not in a self-deprecating way, in a knowing my own abilities way. So any criticisms I make are made with the full knowledge that I could not do better myself. (Sure, I'd like to think I could, though. Wouldn't we all.)

Young adult dystopian sci-fi is a hot sell right now and lord knows I've read a number of them. The coordinates map directly to my brain. Because they are YA for the most part they are predictable and non-subtle, but they are also more personal than adult dystopian sci-fi (which I also like, but fills a different need.) When compared to its peers, Legend is a little above average. The plot is not its selling feature, but it's not any worse than the rest of its ilk. The characters have potential, since they are not the too-stupid-to-live types, but they haven't fulfilled their potential yet.

Which brings us to the big flaw in this book. There is Love At First Sight (tm). From both of the characters. And because the story is narrated from their alternating perspectives, you hear about it twice as much as you normally would. One is trying to catch her brother's murderer, and the other is trying to get medicine for his sick brother with the plague, and this is what we get ? It REALLY is a problem. You can see that these characters could have gotten together on their own time easily enough that I don't see why the author forced it so hard. It's very distracting and it makes me want to yell a lot. I like romantic sub-plots in my fiction, really I do, but I do not like capital-R Romance genre tropes at all. Any of them. It's one thing if the book says, "hey, I'm a Romance, but I'm in a sci-fi setting," so you know what you're getting into, but there is a big difference between, "I'm a sci-fi concerned with several science fictional themes and ideas, with a little romance in the background to help highlight things," and "I'm going to trick you by pretending I'm a sci-fi but I'm not going to talk about sci-fi because I'm really a Romance with all those bells and whistles." I'm a quarter of the way through the sequel already, and it's starting to lean more towards the latter. I reserve the right to demote the series to merely average if it keeps this up.

Also, there is one other thing to note about this book. For some reason each of the main characters is represented by a different font and a different ink color. I am a big advocate of book art. I wish more books were illustrated and had pretty outsides as well as pretty contents. Colored inks in a regular book need to have a REASON. The Neverending Story had a reason for different inks. This book has no reason for it and it's really out of place. The girl has an angular serif font in black. I suppose it's supposed to be military-ish, but it mostly just looks like a slightly odd book font. The boy though... has YELLOW ink in a bold sans-serif font. Combined with wide word and line spacing it makes it annoying to read, and almost impossible in dim light due to lack of contrast. Whose idea was this, to have half the book in yellow text? In the sequel his sections are in teal. An improvement, but why do this at all

See, it's not really a review, and I deleted all the extraneous paragraphs where I rambled about genre and how I approach books and yadda yadda yadda. It's better that way.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: usomitai
2013-01-23 11:27 pm (UTC)
Awww! Does the Love At First Sight stuff take up a lot space? :( I thought I might read this book, but I'm really not into that flavor of romance anymore. I want other plot...!
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2013-01-24 01:17 am (UTC)
Not a LOT of space, per se, it's just how. There is stuff going on but I still don't know if the plot is going to make sense in the end and be believable, but then, this is not unusual for the genre so it's not particularly a drawback for the book. It's more of a bonus if it actually works out. The characters are each supposed to be very smart (highest test scores ever!) The girl was upper-class and got military schooling, while the boy was tortured and escaped out on the street, so their smarts are supposed to complement each other. They mostly do.

But the very second that they meet face to face they both go "Oooooooooooh!!!!!!!" And it's totally weird at the time. The characters are actually halfway interesting except when they're thinking about each other and that is only because they sound googly-eyed when they do. So, you'll have the girl thinking about, say, how she's putting pieces together or planning to do something and then have an aside about the boy's downy eyelashes (yes, his downy eyelashes.) And the boy will be thinking about his family or how he's going to help the and then go on a mental tangent thinking about the girl's shiny hair. THAT is what is annoying about it. And that they BOTH felt that way immediately would have been a strain on me even as a teen.

I read another 50 pages or so of book 2 since I posted and after a very interesting scene, and a (too) large history infodump, I'm not demoting it yet. There is still hope.

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Just for comparison - which YA have you read recently?
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[User Picture]From: usa_p
2013-01-24 05:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, after reading half of the 2nd book I can exactly narrow down the problem to a badly handled romantic subplot. Its badness is highlighted by the fact that the rest of the story is decent enough and in the second book the girl is pretty interesting otherwise! (The boy, not so much, but it's directly related to this badly handled romantic plotline.) I don't not recommend the books so far, but caveat lector.

Edited at 2013-01-24 06:39 pm (UTC)
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