Legend (Lu novel)

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Legend Marie Lu Book cover.jpg
AuthorMarie Lu
CountryUnited States
SeriesLegend series
GenreDystopian, young adult, science fiction
PublisherG. P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin Books
Publication date
November 29, 2011
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
LC ClassPZ7.L96768 Leg 2011[1]
Followed byProdigy 

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] 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]


Legend is set in a flooded, fortified Los Angeles, ruled by the totalitarian Republic. The novel centers around the two charachters, Day and June, two 15-year-olds on opposite sides of the economic spectrum. June Iparis is a military prodigy, born into an elite family, and groomed for success in the Republic's highest circles. Her parents died several years before the start of the story, so she is raised by her older brother Metias. Daniel "Day" Wing is an infamous wanted criminal, born in the impoverished slums of the Republic. His family believes him dead, apart from his older brother John.

Day learns that his younger brother, Eden, is infected with the Plague, a disease that periodically ravages sectors of the Republic. Day breaks into the city hospital to steal medicine and escapes after a confrontation with Metias. Later that night, June is informed by Thomas, an officer in the Republic and Metias's childhood friend, that her brother is dead and that Day is the killer. June graduates early from her military university and sets out to catch Day. Using the promise of cure medicine, she lures Day to the site of one of his previous heist locations, and they converse, albeit not face-to-face, before Day realizes she is a Republic agent and June infers his home sector by recognizing his accent.

June witnesses the interrogation of a spy from the Colonies, another North American country in perpetual war with the Republic. She is appalled by the violent beating delivered by Thomas. June poses as a street urchin and goes searching for Day. She gets in a street fight, stepping in for a young girl named Tess, and beats the previous champion, Kaede. June is stabbed in the process. Day rescues June, unaware of her identity, and Tess, a friend of Day's, sets about healing June. Day and June begin to develop romantic feelings for each other, but June realizes who he is and reports his family's location to Thomas and the Republic. Day attempts to defend his family's house from Republic soldiers, but Thomas kills his mother and Day is captured by June's commanding officer, Commander Jameson. Thomas congratulations a horrified June on a job well done.

June questions Day on his long list of crimes; Day insists he is innocent of Metias's murder. June reviews Day's files and discovers he got a perfect score on the Trial, a comprehensive test administered at age 10 to determine the child's future role in society. However, instead of being celebrated as a prodigy like June herself, the Republic falsified records to indicate Day failed his Trial and died in a labor camp. While Day is being moved to a new cell, he sees evidence that the Republic is intentionally spreading the Plague. Day is further tortured by Commander Jameson and sentenced to death.

June informs Day that John is in a cell and Eden has been sent to labs on the warfront. Day tells June about painful tests inflicted on him after supposedly failing the Trial. Children sent to "work camps" are actually killed or used for experimentation in laboratories; Day escaped after being left for dead. Day tells June his theory about the origins of the Plague. Later, protestors gather in support of Day; June watches Thomas order his soldiers to fire on the protestors.

Day is interrogated by Thomas and learns that Kaede, the girl beaten in a street fight by June, is a Patriot spy; the Patriots are a rebel group connected with the Colonies. That night, June determines that Metias was actually murdered by Thomas, covered up by Commander Jameson. Metias left a coded message for June, revealing that their parents were murdered for discovering the true purposes of the Plague: a method of culling the weaker Republic populations, and a biological weapons against the Colonies. Day learns that Eden was the index case for a new Plague strain. June decides to break Day and John out, and she goes to meet with Kaede to strike a deal with the Patriots.

June and the Patriots plot an escape plan, but Jameson moves up the execution date. June attempts to rescue Day and John on her own but is arrested by Thomas. Their confrontation is halted by attacking Patriots, and June escapes with Day in the chaos; John sacrifices himself, and the Republic claims that Day has been executed. Day and June decide to visit the Colonies and then head to the warfront labs to rescue Eden.


  • 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.
  • Olli, 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.


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] As of February 2019 the book has an aggregate rating of 4.2 rated by 364,960 users on Goodreads.[6]


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.[7][8]

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.[9] 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 Pictures, 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.[10] An adaptation of the second novel, Prodigy, was slated to be published on April 26, 2016.[11] 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. ^ "Legend (Legend, #1)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (26 May 2011). "CBS Films Taps Writers to Adapt 'Legend' Novel". The Hollywood Reporter.
  8. ^ http://hollywoodcrush.mtv.com/2013/01/29/legend-movie-wyck-godfrey/
  9. ^ "Adaptation of Marie Lu's 'Legend' Finds New Home (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  10. ^ "Legend: the Graphic Novel".
  11. ^ "Prodigy: the Graphic Novel".