Legend (Lu novel)

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Legend Marie Lu Book cover.jpg
Author Marie Lu
Country United States
Language English
Series Legend series
Genre Dystopian, young adult, science fiction
Publisher G. P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin Books
Publication date
November 29, 2011
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
Pages 305[1]
ISBN 978-0-399-25675-2
OCLC 703209165
LC Class PZ7.L96768 Leg 2011[1]
Followed by Prodigy

Legend is a 2011 dystopian young adult novel written by American author Marie Lu. It is the first book in the Legend trilogy, followed by Prodigy and Champion.[2]


The book is set in the Republic of America, a police state located in the Western United States who has waged war against its eastern neighbor, the Colonies of America, since its creation in 2054. The country is led by the Elector Primo, who has rigged elections to rule for several decades, with the capital in Denver. Other than a huge gap between the rich and the poor, the country also mandates its citizens to partake in a Trial once they turn 10 years old to deem their fitness for the army; if they fail, the public is told they are sent to work in labor camps. In reality, they are experimented on and executed.

In Los Angeles, Daniel "Day" Altan Wing, a rebellious 15-year-old deemed as the most dangerous criminal in the country for having escaped the 'labor camps' and done subversive actions, stages a failed attempt to steal a medicine from the Central Hospital for his younger brother, Eden Baatar, who is infected by a plague that has caused their neighborhood's quarantine. However, he ends up becoming accused of the death of Captain Metias Iparis. Metias' younger sister, June "Junebug", a 15-year-old prodigy and the only person to score perfectly in the Trial, seeks to find Day in revenge. Posing as a street urchin, she is saved from a wild Skiz fight by Day and his friend, Tess. Initially unaware, she falls in love with him, but when she discovers his identity, she informs the army to capture him and his family; when he rebels, Thomas Bryant, a friend of Metias and June, is ordered by Commander Jameson to murder his mother, Grace.

Day's brothers John and Eden are imprisoned and experimented on, respectively, while Day is sentenced to death. Though still upset at Day's apparent involvement, June begins to suspect a larger conspiracy in the Republic when she uncovers clues left by her brother. She is also dismayed at Thomas' insistence to always follow orders even when it means more suffering for the poor. Eventually, June discovers the truth behind the plague which infects Eden and the others from the poor sectors: the Republic has used the poor as guinea pigs to test biological weapons for their war against the Colonies. In addition, she finds out that the Republic kills children who fail the Trial to prevent overpopulation, as well as the fact that Day scored perfectly in his trial, yet was experimented on due to his rebelliousness, then deemed a failure and left to die. June's parents and Metias had also known this information, but they were killed; the former through a staged car accident, and the latter by Thomas.

Turning her back against the Republic, June attempts to rescue Day during his execution date. She enlists the help of Kaede, the girl whom she fought in the Skiz fight earlier, who is revealed to be a member of the Patriots, a renegade group apparently supported by the Colonies whose members now include Tess. Though she manages to save Day, Eden is unable to be located and John sacrifices himself to cover June and Day's escape. Left on their own, June and Day head towards Las Vegas to ask for the Patriots' assistance in rescuing Eden, who has been transferred to the war zone.


  • June Iparis, a fifteen-year-old prodigy who scored a perfect 1500 on her Trial, the Republic's mandatory test system. Born into an elite Republic family, her parents were mysteriously killed in a car crash, leaving Metias, her older brother, to care for her. When Metias is murdered with Day as the prime suspect, June sets out to take revenge by finding Day, only to fall in love with him. Later, she uncovers a conspiracy behind Metias' death that leads her to betray her country. She is extremely analytical and smart, able to keenly survive on the streets, and a bit of an uptight person. She has long, dark brown hair usually tied back in a high ponytail, as well as dark brown eyes with golden flecks in them.
  • Daniel "Day" Altan Wing, a fifteen-year-old rebellious criminal born in the slums of the Republic. Day is the Republic's most-wanted criminal and the prime suspect of Metias's murder. He is of mixed race heritage (from a Mongolian father and a Caucasian mother) with long, light blond hair and luminous baby blue eyes. He has a limp in his left leg and an "imperfection" (a lighter patch of blue) in one eye from when the Republic experimented on him. Day is described as being extremely agile, even more so than June. He, like June, is confident and stubborn. He also scored a perfect 1500 during his Trial, but was lied to by the Republic, being told he scored 674 (45%).
  • Thomas Alexander Bryant, Metias's friend who is infatuated with June and has a special hatred of Day because June had kissed him. Like Day, he was born in the slums, but took the government extremely seriously and clawed his way through the hierarchy to become a lieutenant and later captain of the Republic's army. It is later revealed that he was the one who murdered Metias under orders from the Republic and had framed Day for it.
  • Metias Iparis, June's older brother. Like her, he has brown hair and eyes with flecks of gold in it. Metias was murdered one night while guarding plague medicine. It is eventually revealed that Metias knew he would be killed by the Republic for uncovering a conspiracy. His murder was committed by none other than his best friend, Thomas. He was ordered to do so. He was twenty-seven when he died, being 12 years older than June.
  • Commander Jameson, Metias' hardcore military commander who gains June an early graduation from Drake, so June can join Jameson's squad. Jameson gives June the assignment to find Metias' murderer. However, we later find out that Jameson herself commanded Thomas to murder Metias. She also commands Thomas to shoot Day's mother. Her skill, experience, and ruthlessness as a soldier are regularly mentioned. She is later tried for the murder of Metias and Day's mother, and sentenced to be executed.
  • Tess, Day's thirteen-year-old partner in crime and caretaker. Tess was abandoned by her parents and taken in by Day when she was only ten. She is described as having tan skin, large brown eyes, and reddish hair. She goes missing after Day is taken into custody by June, but is later discovered to have joined the Patriots.
  • Kaede, A Patriot known to be involved in 'Skiz' (illegal fights). June and Kaede fight one of these around the beginning of the story). She is known to play 'dirty,' like using her knife during her fight with June. She helps Day and June escape Batalla Hall after June pays her a large sum of Republic Notes and protects Tess.
  • Eden Bataar Wing, Day's ten-year-old brother who is infected with a mutated version of the plague and is used by the Republic as a biological weapon in the war against the Colonies, who they are at war with. Day describes him as acting like a 'little engineer'.
  • John Wing, Day's nineteen-year-old brother, who looks very similar to him. At the opening of Legend, he is the only person from Day's old life who knew he was still alive. He is killed by the Republic's firing squad in a sacrifice to save both Day and June in a life-threatening situation.
  • Chian, June and Day's Trial administrator. Metias once shadowed him.
  • Elector Primo Stavropoulos, the leader and dictator of the Republic. He has rigged the elections to allow him to rule the Republic as a police state for several decades. While his portrait shows him as a fatherly figure, June discovers to her dismay that he looks stern and cold in person.
  • Anden Stavropoulos, the son and heir of the current Elector Primo. Like Day, he is a mix of Asian and Caucasian blood.
  • Grace Wing, Day's mother. Thomas is ordered by Commander Jameson to shoot Day's mother in the head during the raid on the Wings' home. Day and his siblings inherited their blond hair and blue eyes from her.
  • Taylor Arslan Wing, Day's father. He worked as a cleaner after the war front soldiers, but was killed on duty sometime when Day was about 8 years old. Before he died he gave Day a pendant, which contains a coin from the United States before it split up into the Republic and the Colonies.
  • Michael and Nadia Iparis, June's parents. The Republic tells June that they died in a car accident when she was young, but it was actually the government that killed them for knowing too much about the plague and what really happens.
  • Ollie, June's loyal dog who helps comfort her through the tragic period of Metias's death. June is forced to leave him behind when she escapes with Day. Ollie is described as being a white sheepdog that can only track at a close range.


Lu has said that she was inspired by the movie Les Miserables, and sought to recreate the conflict between Valjean and Javert in a teenage version.[3]


Susan Carpenter, writing in the Los Angeles Times calls Legend "a taut and exciting romp for all readers with enough inventive details to keep things from becoming cliché",[4] while The New York Times' Ridley Pearson called it "[a] fine example of commercial fiction with razor-sharp plotting, depth of character and emotional arc."[5]


Film adaptation[edit]

Legend's film rights have been sold to Lionsgate, with Twilight producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen to produce. In January 2013, MTV reported that Jonathan Levine, though initially attached as director, had dropped out of the film. Godfrey stated, "We have a fantastic script, and we had Jonathan Levine who directed Warm Bodies, but because he had just done a YA book, he’s kinda like, 'I’ve got to do something different.' So we’re in the process of putting a director on Legend. Whoever gets that is going to be excited because the world-building for that is a blast." Producers are in the process of attaching a new director to the film. That same month, it was reported that Andrew Barrer and Gabe Ferrari have completed the script.[6][7]

In July 2018, it was announced that the film and television rights have been acquired by BCDF Pictures with Joseph Muszynski hired to write the script.[8] Lu stated that she is happy with the current script as it stays true to the novel. Claude Dal Farra, Brice Dal Farra, and Brian Keady serve as producers from BCDF Picutres, while Irfaan Fredericks of Kalahari Film & Media will co-produce the project.

The film's release date has yet to be announced.

Graphic novel[edit]

A graphic novel adaptation of Legend was published on April 25, 2015 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC.[9] An adaptation of the second novel, Prodigy, was slated to be published on April 26, 2016.[10] A third and final adaptation of Champion was released on April 25, 2017. The adaptations are written by Leigh Dragoon and illustrated by Caravan Studio.


  1. ^ a b "Legend". LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  2. ^ "Legend the Series". Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  3. ^ Wilkinson, Amy (29 November 2011). "Marie Lu Imagines A Teenage, Dystopian 'Les Miserables' In 'Legend'". Hollywood Crush. MTV. Archived from the original on 1 January 2015.
  4. ^ Carpenter, Susan (27 November 2011). "Not Just for Kids: A taut, dystopian 'Legend'". The Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Pearson, Ridley (2 December 2011). "Post-Apocalyptic Teenagers in Love". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (26 May 2011). "CBS Films Taps Writers to Adapt 'Legend' Novel". The Hollywood Reporter.
  7. ^ http://hollywoodcrush.mtv.com/2013/01/29/legend-movie-wyck-godfrey/
  8. ^ "Adaptation of Marie Lu's 'Legend' Finds New Home (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  9. ^ "Legend: the Graphic Novel".
  10. ^ "Prodigy: the Graphic Novel".