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
Media type Print
Followed by Prodigy

Legend is a 2011 dystopian young adult novel by Marie Lu. It is the first book of a trilogy, followed by Prodigy and Champion.[1]


The Republic, a country created after the United States on the coast of California, is split in sectors. Every year the Republic hosts the trials to see who trains to enter the army (to fight a war against the Colonies) or to become a part of the work force. As the scores range from failing to passing only one person in the Republic stands to hold the highest score, 1500. June Iparis, the Republic's prodigy.

Day, the Republic's fifteen-year-old most wanted criminal, breaks into Los Angeles Central Hospital in hopes of stealing a cure for the plague that threatens his family. While escaping the hospital, Day loses the pendant his father gave him and allegedly kills Metias Iparis, June Iparis' beloved brother.

June, the fifteen-year-old prodigy, is chosen to find and capture Day, who is charged with the murder of Metias Iparis (June's older brother), among other crimes against the country. Though she was born into an elite family in one of the wealthiest districts in the Republic, known as the Ruby Sector, which is part of the gem sectors, June poses as a girl from the slums in order to search for Day, coincidentally collecting Day's fallen pendant as she observes the crime scene. When attempting to lure Day by pretending to be a merchant with a plague cure that doesn't work, June decides to look for Day herself.

After getting injured in a 'Skiz' fight, June is circumstantially taken into the care of Day and his young partner in crime and only friend, Tess. Day then kisses June in an alley while being in a half-drunk condition due to the wine he was drinking. But still, he felt affection for June. June turns him over to the Republic once she figures out that her saviour was indeed Day, the criminal that her commissioner sent her to arrest.

The next morning, military medical trucks and soldiers surround Day's home. As Day rushes to save his family, June follows him, but the military captures Day's family, forcing Day out of hiding. He tries to resist capture, but Thomas, Metias' and June's close friend, shoots Day's mother under order, killing her. Day reacts by trying to kill the soldiers in vain. Commander Jameson, June's commanding officer, shoots Day in the leg, injuring him gravely for the rest of the novel.

Day wakes as a captive of the Republic. After June returns from her mission, Thomas starts pursuing her romantically. Day is questioned by June, Commander Jameson, and eventually Thomas, who has a personal hatred for Day because he kissed June.

The more Day speaks with June, the closer they grow and the more they come to understand each other. She finally researches Day's real identity - Daniel Altan Wing - and discovers he scored a perfect score of 1500 on his Trial, just as she did. The authorities have told Day that he had failed his Trial, which is what Day has come to believe. While June was moved into a prestigious program because of her high Trial score, Day was experimented on and abandoned, supposedly dead like the others who failed their Trial.

Day confesses that he did not kill Metias but had only injured him by throwing a knife into his shoulder.

June seeks out Kaede, who is the one who injured June in the "Skiz" fight and one of the Patriots, a group of anti-Republic rebels. She finds that Tess has taken refuge with them after Day is taken by the Republic. June negotiates with the Patriots for their help, freeing Day on the morning of his execution. The plan does not perfectly execute, as Commander Jameson moved up the execution time, and Day's older brother John sacrifices himself by posing at the execution as Day so June and Day can escape.

Three days later, June and Day take shelter in an old train car and plan to go to Las Vegas, where the Patriots are, so they can check on Tess before heading out to find Day's little brother Eden, who has been infected with the plague and has now been taken by the Republic for experimentation. Day also explains why he chose his nickname, saying that everything happens each day, and that everything can be possible the next day. "'You try to walk in the light.'"


  • 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 and Day is the prime suspect, June sets out to find him but ends up falling in love with Day. Her first encounter with Day was a ruse to find out his true identity, only seeking revenge for her brother's death. 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. She has 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 a mix between Mongolian/Caucasian 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 from the Republic, being told he scored 674 (45%).
  • Anden Anden is the son of the old Elector. He took over the leadership of the Republic after the old Elector died. He tried to make peace with the Colonies but the Colonies got a plague. Then, Day announced his support for Anden, and Anden won the public.
  • Metias Iparis, June's older brother. Metias is 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. He was twenty-seven when he died. It is later revealed in the book that his best friend Thomas had killed him.
  • Thomas Bryant, Metias's friend who is infatuated with June and has a special hatred of Day, because June had kissed Day.
  • 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. Day describes him as acting like a 'little engineer.'
  • John Suren 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.
  • Commander Jameson, June's hardcore military commander and sort of another parent to June, being that June's brother and parents are dead. She is and commands Thomas to murder both Metias and Day's mother.
  • 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.
  • Chian, June and Day's Trial administrator. Metias once shadowed him.
  • 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.
  • Taylor Arslan Wing, Day's father. It is stated that he was killed before the events of Legend. In the book it also states that Day's father cleaned up after the war front soldiers. Before he died he gave Day a pendant. Inside was a coin from the United States before it became the Republic.
  • 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.
  • Kaede, A Patriot known to be involved in 'Skiz' fights (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 (Republic currency).
  • 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.[2]


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",[3] 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."[4]


Film adaptation[edit]

Legend's film rights have been sold to CBS Films, with Twilight producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen to produce. On January 29th, 2013, MTV reported that Jonathan Levine, director of 50/50 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." They are currently looking for a new director. Newcomers Andrew Barrer and Gabe Ferrari have completed the script.[5][6]

Graphic novel[edit]

A graphic novel adaptation of Legend was published on April 25, 2015 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC.[7] An adaptation of the second novel, Prodigy, is slated to be published on April 26, 2016.[8] The adaptations are written by Leigh Dragoon and illustrated by Caravan Studio.

The final graphic novel, Champion, is expected to be released in April 2017.