This month's book pick is LEGEND by Marie Lu.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
First Line: "My mother thinks I'm dead."
This is a great first line for several reasons. First, it makes you want to read on. Why does this person's mother think he's dead? Why would he allow his mother to think that, since it's (obviously) not the case? It also immediately establishes the protagonist as someone who has family who would care if he's dead, which isn't always a given in dystopian fiction.
Highlights: I loved the whole book. I took it with me on a five-hour plane ride, along with my laptop, some knitting, and a magazine. When I sat down, I pulled out the book, thinking I'd read for a little while, then work on other things. When I landed, the laptop, knitting, and magazine were untouched, but the book was done!
June and Day's relationship was fascinating and layered. June's belief that Day was the one who killed her brother gave them a very good reason to dislike each other, even though they had a lot in common (and an immediate physical attraction). This was a believable way to prolong the tension between them, something that isn't always done well in books with a romantic plotline.
I also really liked the fact that the book didn't spend much time talking about what happened to change society. There were enough clues given to make me curious about the backstory, but the main focus was what was happening to those characters now.
Notes for Writers: This is the first book I've read that uses different colors (and fonts) for each POV character. When I first started reading, I honestly wondered if it would annoy me, but after the first couple of switches I really appreciated the visual cue that we were in the other character's head. I'm usually not a huge fan of switching POVs in the first place, but it didn't bother me at all here.
A Good Read For: Fans of/writers of dystopian fiction, science fiction, and action-adventure. The novel is very well-paced, with an excellent mix of tense action scenes and quieter, more contemplative moments.
The next book in the series, PRODIGY, has a release date of January 29, 2013. I can't wait!