Review: Prodigy

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ProdigyProdigy by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #2
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 29, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

First Sentence: “Day jolts awake beside me.”

At BEA, I waited in line for about an hour to get an ARC Prodigy, which I also got signed by Marie Lu. Though I was excited for her series, mostly I just wanted an excuse to sit down for an hour so I wouldn’t have to be a pack mule for tote bags full of books for a while. At that point, I hadn’t yet read Legend so there really was only a certain amount of excitement that can be mustered, even with all the good reports. Well, finally having read the ARC, shortly after publication because I fail, I can report that, with Prodigy Marie Lu solidifies her good start in Legend. Her plotting and characterization both improve, and the action and dystopian elements are just as strong as in the debut.

The plotting of Legend follows a pretty standard dystopian outline, but, in Prodigy, Marie Lu really does something different. The first book set the pieces perfectly for her to branch out. Without spoilers, I really cannot tell you much specifically about what is awesome, but just believe me that it is. The ending leaves the plot poised to be completely epic in the next book, but I hope Lu is cutthroat enough to do what she needs to do, because that’s where a lot of young adult authors miss the mark in dystopian novels.

Where June spent most of Legend being an annoyingly perfect, almost robotic, girl, completely devoted to her role in the Republic, she really develops in Prodigy. Torn between her childhood leanings and her new alliances, June has to learn how to evaluate the world on her own, no longer accepting what other people tell her to be true. Smart as she is, she has to learn about independent thinking. Readers will find June much more sympathetic and likable in Prodigy. Day, of course, we all loved from the beginning. In some ways, I don’t think I like him as much now, but in others he’s even better. Where Day is practically perfect in Legend, the reader now gets to see more of his flaws, giving him depth and perhaps ultimately making him more admirable.

The budding relationship between June and Day, thankfully, does not become a huge focus of the plot. Lu does capture both their strong feelings for one another (or how strong they think they are) and the insecurity of their relationship. She stresses how little they’ve known each other, and how their mutual trust suffers as a result. Lu does introduce a love triangle or two (love square?), and I hope she uses this wisely.

For those who like their dystopian novels full of explosions, I have good news for you. There are fist fights, chase scenes, bombings, jumps off of high objects, and even aerial battles. Lu does a really nice job with her action scenes, keeping them tense and exciting. Also, I never felt confused about what she was describing, which can be tricky to accomplish. And was that a reference to Joss Whedon there towards the end? I hope so.

The only real detractor for the Legend series remains the youth of the protagonists. I know I complained about this in my review for Legend, but it really does bear reiterating. Both Day and June are 15, but they are brilliant, gorgeous, strong, and respected by all. Now, a prodigy can certainly be clever than adults, but I really question both of them being incredibly gorgeous on top of that. Seriously, just take a moment and think back to your yearbook from freshman year of high school, or, even better, go look at it. Do any of those teens look model perfect at all times and anywhere near capable of taking on the Republic? Shouldn’t at least one of them suffer from acne?

I also question their incredible physical abilities. At 15, odds are, they wouldn’t even be done growing yet, and they’re not at their physical peak. I mean, at one point, June jumps onto a door knob and from their onto the top of a door as it opens without anyone noticing. Unless she’s secretly a member of the X-Men with cat powers, I just cannot buy that. As for the respect, well, even as a prodigy, I really do not see everyone in a country rallying behind 15 year old rebels. At most, they would be cute figureheads, not viewed as actual leaders. Katniss, for example, powerful though she is at 16, she doesn’t lead the revolution; she just serves as a symbol of it. The story would make so much more sense with main characters in the range of 18 to 20, and every person I talked to said that they also kept forgetting that Day and June were so young. Obviously, that can’t be changed now, but how about we make it more realistic by giving them some pimples or something?

Marie Lu’s Legend series is an excellent choice for readers looking for an action-packed dystopian novel. After that ending, I am pretty much desperate to read the next book, which is poised to be even better!

Favorite Quote:

“I’m telling you, Day—all it takes is one generation to brainwash a population and convince them that reality doesn’t exist.”

20 responses to “Review: Prodigy”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Maybe Marie Lu just forgot to mention the magical acne-eradicating chemical pumped into our future water supply! #Iwish

  2. Heather says:

    Great review! (haha! See what I did there? Don’t hurt me!)

    For real, though, I am super jealous that you’ve already read this book. I loved Legend, am really looking forward to reading this one, and I’m glad it got a thumbs up from you because we rate so many of these books so similarly 🙂

  3. True. The age part is what I often find most unbelievable about young adult novels and leading revolutions and whatnot. I have a hard time picturing older people taking them as seriously. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games do this well, though, with, as you wrote, the protagonists taking on much more of a figurehead/symbolic stance.

    • Christina says:

      Yup. They can be brilliant and talented and everything, but every adult isn’t going to greet them with respect, whether they deserve it or not. Plus, they’re going to have awkward moments, because that’s being a teenager.

  4. I actually blocked out their real age and think of them as 17 or 18.. I also don’t think it is believable, especially in terms of maturity and ability, like you mentioned. This is why YA authors shouldn’t stick to those young ages just to brand their books as YA. I agree, I think prodigy was so much better than legend, especially with how the plot was carried. Marie Lu is a genius. I was also happy the romance wasn’t a focus and they DID doubt their love, because one month and they’re in love? especially with how each one has affected the other’s family (trying not to spoil!).

    great review, I can’t wait for the third book!!

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    • Christina says:

      I had to do that as well. It’s just so odd, since it’s perfectly acceptable to write a YA with 17/18 year old characters. I wonder if this was an effort to stand out? No idea.

      The plot was fabulous. Major props on that, and for backing the romance off a step. Yup, they’ve got real issues to work through, so instalove would have been pretty unacceptable.

  5. Danny Pettry says:

    I loved this book!
    I think a movie is going to be made on this series. I can’t remember if I had read that online or not.
    My favorite Character, is Tess. I like her.
    And of course, I like Day.

    • Christina says:

      I’m not a Tess fan, partly because I can’t figure out how old she is, which means I’m not sure how to take her crush.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a movie. Don’t remember if I heard that specifically or not. I think I may have seen it in Cuddlebuggery’s Buzzworthy News.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I enjoyed Legend (the only thing that stopped me from giving it 5 stars was as you say that both protagonists were too perfect). I still did not read Prodigy so I can’t leave a meaningful comment here about plot, but I’m glad to hear that it will not be disappointing when I finally dig myself from pile of over-due review books. 😀

    • Christina says:

      No fifteen year old is perfect. I do not believe that’s possible. It’s such an awkward age. Even the shiniest people have awkward moments.

  8. Casey says:

    I feel the same way as you do about Tess – I liked her better in Legend when she was like the little sister, who has to be only like 13 than now. I’m okay with her crushing, but she’s a bit too…pushy about it for being a kid still.

    Just finished Prodigy and agree – even better than the last and done with a unique flair. Loved it!

    • Christina says:

      Yup. I didn’t think she was old enough to be so jealous and all of that. She just came out of nowhere about that. I hadn’t picked up on a crush in the first one, and it seemed like it should have been obvious.

  9. I’m glad that this one worked for you better than Legend. That book was just mediocre for me and I was actually contemplating dumping this series but after seeing so many good reviews for Prodigy, I think I will give it a chance. Hopefully I can muster up some caring for June, because I am NOT a fan.

    • Christina says:

      I totally see what you mean. I mean, I really liked reading Legend, but I wasn’t blown away by it at all. It was just fun. This one got a lot more depth. I think June did become a bit more likable and Day a bit less manicpixie.

  10. Vivien says:

    I thought this was a fabulous sequel!! It answered some questions but now I have so many more. I’m glad it’s not predictable. Such an enjoyable read.

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