Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Prodigy and Champion by Marie Lu

Prodigy
By Marie Lu
Read: December 22 - 26, 2013
Published: January 29th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)Source: Library
Category: Dystopian, revolution, post-apocalyptic, YA
Series: Legend #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games.
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Quick thoughts:

When Prodigy released a year ago, I hesitated reading it right away for a variety of factors. 1) My interest in dystopians was already waning and I wasn't hugely impressed with the world described in Legend. Although the gritty LA setting was interesting, I didn't understand the broader society. 2) I thought June and Day were incredibly young for all of their accomplishments. 3 & 4) Exacerbating the first two issues were talks of a dreaded love square developing in the second book, and the entire story culminating in a crazy cliffhanger. 

Because of those issues, I decided to hold off starting this book until the final released, and either read them both together or skip them all together. After hearing so much praise about Champion, I decided to keep reading. I'm glad I did. I ended up really liking this book. The broader world and political atmosphere were much better developed, and ended up being quite interesting. This society also felt possible, where a lot of dystopian books seem like complete fancy. 

Although I did not care for the love quadrant that forms, thankfully it's not that strong. I get that the author was trying to show that June and Day come from different worlds and might be more compatible with others. But in light of everything else happening, it felt slightly unnecessary, especially the Tess side of it. Still that didn't drag down this book (much). I still think June and Day are so so young, but I've grown attached to them, and I very much want them to succeed. Of course because I had book three in hand when I started Prodigy, the cliffhanger was a non-issue. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild (some confusion and doubt, but doesn't progress very far)
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium. 

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Champion
By Marie Lu
Read: December 26 - 28, 2013
Published: November 5th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)
Source: Jen @ YA Romantics (THANK YOU!)
Category: Dystopian, revolution, post-apocalyptic, YA
Series: Legend #3
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?
 

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position. 

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything. 

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.
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Thoughts:

I read Legend exactly 2 years ago, and though I read a recap before starting Prodigy, I don't really have a strong memory of that part of the story. I think that hurt my connection to the end of this book a bit. In other words, this series is best read close together. Despite that, Champion is a thrilling conclusion.

I was riveted to this book from beginning to end and couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The world and political, societal climate Lu has created is fascinating and well developed. This is a dystopian-like (post apocalyptic-like? - not sure about how to categorize) world that I could see happening to our own if similar factors were in place. In other words, the world building is well thought out - almost eerily so. Where my feelings for some of the secondaries in this series were once black and white, I found so much complexity in the way each was written: Thomas, Metias, Eden, Tess, Anden, Pascao, even Commander Jameson. They truly made this story more complex, and several of my favorite moments in Champion feature one of them. 

Still I am announcing an official breakup between me and the dystopian genre. It's really wearing on me. Especially all the revolution and war that happens. The way it's portrayed in 
Champion is honest and realistic. But the constantly high body count and country upheaval is tough and getting repetitive in this genre. I almost didn't continue this series after the first installment because of that, but I think these books have turned out to be a favorite of the dystopians I've read, especially because the plot didn't always go in the predicted direction after book one. I'm glad I was convinced to keep reading. 

We get to see both June and Day grow up in 
Champion, which I greatly appreciated. They were so young in the first one. Despite the fact that they come from very different backgrounds, they keep finding their way back to each other, which speaks loudest of their connection. I've been waiting for swoons to rival that bathroom scene at the beginning of Prodigy and these two don't disappoint. But I think it's their actions and not their words that are the strongest indicator of how much they care for each other. 

I can understand why some people love the end of this book, but others were disappointed. I fell somewhere in the middle of that when I first finished it. But the end has grown on me tremendously as I've had time to step back and consider it. The end is clever and poignant, and I think it's a really smart, good series conclusion that fits these characters well. But it took some time to make myself agree with that emotionally. Don't worry, I think a lot of you will LOVE it. Thankfully, I can place this series conclusion away from the Bad Endings category that has unfortunately cropped up for me this year. 

Finally, would someone kindly explain this title to me? I get Legend and Prodigy, but how does Champion tie to the series? And that tagline "Who will be Champion?" Did one of them win something? What am I missing?

Love Triangle Factor: Mild (Mild also for the series)
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion

15 comments:

  1. Gah--I read the first one but don't remember it at all! I know I enjoyed it... I suppose I need to get these last two so I can read them one after another (thus avoiding the cliffie).

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  2. I really did enjoy the first book, but I just couldn't get into the second book of this series. I found that it lost some of the magic of its predecessor, and that made me quit the series...for now. I'm glad to hear that, for the most part, you enjoyed the series though! Great reviews :)

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  3. There's a love square in the second book? Grrrrrr. I'm glad it doesn't really develop into anything too serious at least, and it doesn't sound like you were crazy frustrated with it which I'll take as a good sign. Glad you decided to stick with the series Lauren and that you ended up being a fan overall. I'm curious about the ending of Champion for sure, I want to know what made you somewhat "meh" about it initially only to like it more and more after stepping back.

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  4. The society does seem possible, I completely agree, mostly because it's based on North Korea, at least partly, I think. I read a book about NK not long before reading Prodigy and I saw so many similarities. It actually bothered me for some reason.
    And yes, I started the second book, realized that there was a love square, and just dropped it for heaven's sake! WHY do authors do that?!
    I might go back to it since people really liked the third book.

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  5. Before I comment, there's a bit of mis-leading information in your Prodigy thoughts. You had the third book in your hand, I think? :D Yes? No? I understood perfectly what you were saying, just something that my anal mind picked up.

    Anyhow, Yay! I'm glad you came to enjoy these a bit more, though, but I'm scared because of the love issues of these books. I don't want any more love interests :/ Though I guess they'll still end up together anyway, but STILL. Enough of this already >.< I'm glad it was an ending you actually came to enjoy since you weren't really happy with some of the other endings. I'll receive my US paperback to match my Legend one during this spring. I think sometime in April. Or May. So hopefully I'll get to read it soon :)

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  6. It makes me sad because the dystopian genre (when done right) is one of the most rewarding for me personally but now that the genre has gotten so over-saturated, it's become so unoriginal and played out. I mean to say, not much impresses me in the genre anymore.

    The Legend series is definitely one of my favourites though because I feel like Day and June are such strong characters (both individually and together) despite their age. And where the world building is a little open-ended in Legend, I think Lu really hashes it out in the subsequent books. The world feels REAL and it's not hard to picture that in a very distant future, that's where we could end up. I like it when I can buy into the world that the author is selling. This is one of those series where each subsequent book is a little tighter than the one prior. And the ending, I LOVED that ending. It was bittersweet but hopeful and I liked how open-ended it was because it allows you, the reader, to take it wherever you want to. So yeah, I loved this series and was so happy with its conclusion.

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  7. I read Legend and wasn't a fan either which is why I didn't continue this series. While Prodigy seems quite good, I doubt I'd enjoy Champion as much precisely because it follows that typical dystopian pattern. I don't even think I'm going to read Allegiant since I'm so tired of the same-old, same-old. Plus, a love SQUARE? Excuse me while I run away, despite how mild it may be. I find I can't even stand petty jealousy in novels anymore these days. Meh. Anyway, these reviews really helped me out, Lauren. I know a lot of readers who loved Champion so they made me second-guess my decision not to continue with this series but, ultimately, I think I made the best choice for me and my reading tastes. Lovely reviews, my friend!

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  8. I find I'm dystopianed out as well. Lauren. I did read Lagend & Prodigy but it's been sometime ago. I agree I also thought June & Day were very young to the point that much of went on stretched the limits of believable. I didn't care for the direction of the romance. Throwing in that quad didn't make me happy so it was a toss up whether I'd pick up the last book. Glad to see that drama is kept low, so I'll have to reconsider. Great reviews! :)

    P.S. I'm having same debate about Ignite Me. I don't know if I'll read it.

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  9. I have to heartily agree, I'm in need of a big break from dystopians, and I really loved this finale. For me, the end was just perfect, and very mature and not trying too hard to be shocking or too sacharine and sweet. I will always have love for this series, but I think if I came to it as a beginner right now I might not even finish book one. I'm just really sick of dystopian worlds and struggles right now. Great reviews! Glad the ending grew on you more after some time. :-)

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  10. I'm glad you got to read the rest of this series before your dystopian breakup. I think it's probably one of my absolute favorites in the genre because of how well the world building was explained and written and how well the books flowed from one to another. I enjoyed every single book. I'm on the side where I loved the ending. Of course it broke my heart in certain ways but I thought it fit so well too. :)

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  11. I read Legend beginning of last year when I was new to the dystopian genre and it clearly became a winner. I love that it wasn't very romance focused and actually had an interesting plot. Prodigy was okay for me because of June's distrustful nature, but I fell in love with Champion. I think it was such a strong conclusion and I was a huge fan of the ending, that part actually made me like June a lot. I get why you want to take a break from the dystopian genre, but I'm glad that you atleast struck around this series till the end. Great review, Lauren! I'm still hoping we get a novella or something about Metias, he was definitely one of my favorite characters.

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  12. Coming back to read this because I still need to write my Champion review--but we've discussed a lot of our issues and likes on the side already. I shall return:)

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  13. I loved Champion, I thought it was such a fantastic ending to this series. I thought it was great that it happened how they talked about it happening in Prodigy (sorry I'm being vague since I don't want to spoil for anyone who hasn't read it). And the paper clip ring, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I am getting a bit burned out on dystopian, but I do love them so I'll keep reading. Great review! ~Pam

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  14. You're welcome. And I agree, dystopian and I are taking a break.
    I LOVED this ending. I got a little nervous about triangles and rectangles in book two, but I really thought this ending worked.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  15. I'm pretty done with dystopians for the time-being, as well. I was a bit bereft at the end of this book, but like you, it grew on me. The more I considered it, the more I understood why this was probably the best possible conclusion for June and Day's story. Oh, and I was a bit confused about the title, too. Maybe it alludes to one of them being the savior the people need...not necessarily a champion but someone to champion *for* the people?

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