Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Prodigy - Marie Lu

Prodigy by Marie Lu
Series: Legend Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, dystopian, futuristic, action
Published on January 29, 2013
Published by Putnam
Pages: 371
Read From: 2.9.13 - 2.11.13

After escaping from the Republic's stronghold of Los Angeles, 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 pair joins a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and who offer them passage to the Colonies. The Patriots have only one request - June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. 
It's the 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 the revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood? What if the Patriots are wrong?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. While not especially exciting, I do like its simplicity and the gray-blue color scheme. I don’t care for the one-word title, though; I never have been excessively fond of one-word titles.

Characters: My opinion of June and Day has not changed much from Legend. June is an okay protagonist; she doesn’t have The Attitude, and makes a somewhat believable military woman. Somewhat. I must say that for a girl trained in the ways of combat, one would think that she would realize how bloody idiotic it is of her to keep her hair in a long, high ponytail - that’s an ideal handle for an enemy to grab a-hold of! As for Day . . . Oh my gosh (and that is not an oh my gosh of girlish delight). I got so tired of reading about his “incredible hotness” and his long, bright, silky tresses. It completely destroyed his “tough guy” imagine. Completely. His unending “charm” and flirtatious smirks were down to a minimum in this installment, due to bad attitude and a rather incapacitating injury, so I am glad for that, but his annoying aspects were somehow not lessened by it. I also had the hardest time believing that for a guy who had virtually grown up on the streets, Day didn’t know anything about hand-to-hand combat. Nothing! Yeah, sorry, not buying it. Tess was all right, except jealousy didn’t suit her, and then there’s Anden . . . Anden is the new Elector Primo, and the Author tries to convince us that he’s a pretty nice guy - a decent one, in fact. I will go into this a lot more later, but let me just leave it like this for now: it didn’t work.

The Romance: There’s actually two love triangles going on here: June, Day, and Tess. And then Day, June, and Anden. Neither work. As I said earlier, jealousy doesn’t suit Tess. She’s generally a sweet girl, and then she turns all nasty, and I didn’t like it. There’s also the fact that Day has always considered Tess as a little sister, and then he’s suddenly like, “Hey, Tess, you’ve got a woman’s body!” And now he’s unsure about his feelings for her. That just struck me as weird. Guys who have an older-brother-little-sister relationship with a girl generally don’t come to think of them as a potential love interest. As for the second love triangle: the relationship between June and Day has always annoyed me. Why can’t there ever be any good-comrade relationships between male and female characters in literature anymore?! June and Day don’t really get too much of an opportunity to get horribly mushy and physical in Prodigy, but I did get tired of June drooling over his hair and his muscles. Throwing Anden in was an element that didn’t work in the end. It mainly seems like it’s there to cause tension between Day and June, and there’s already enough of that the way it is.

Plot: The rebels want June and Day to assassinate the new Elector Primo - that is, Anden. Exciting, right? While the Author doesn’t waste a whole lot of time in initiating the assassination plot, the book somehow feels a little slow. Maybe because the Reader is able to predict how things, in general, will turn out. And maybe it’s because the Author spends so much time on June’s compromised emotions, and Day worrying about her possible loyalty to the Republic. To a certain extent, these feelings need to be dwelt on, for both realistic reasons and for character development. But it’s hashed over so much that June begins to come across as an indecisive character, and Day a irrational worrier. I’ll admit, the plot takes a sudden turn that I wasn’t quite expecting, and it worked pretty well. And then the self-guilt and blame sets in. Day makes some rather valid points to June, and rather than being logical and saying, “Yeah, Day, you’re probably right. I messed up big time,” she starts throwing the accusations back at him. And then she gets a martyr complex and is all, It’s my fault! I wish the Reader had gotten more time to see the Colonies. The Author offers about a two-chapter glimpse, and then we’re back to the Republic! I hope we return in later books, because it felt like the Author just threw the few scenes in the Colonies in to illustrate that it wasn’t much better than the Republic, and that’s it.

Believability: Here’s where I had issues. In general, the type of totalitarian regime the Author is trying to portray is really good. The citizens of the Republic seem to revere their Elector Primo almost like a god, which is exactly how it is in real totalitarian regimes. The brief interlude in the Colonies contrasts the severe styles and black and white colors of the Republic very well. However, while the Author tries to convey this, I actually failed to see it in the behavior of the characters themselves. Sure, when June is in the presence of Anden, she battles with herself over how she’s been taught from birth that the Elector is supreme; that he can do no wrong. And yet, I never got the sense that she was actually that convinced at any time in her life that the Elector Primo was so wonderful. Or that the citizens of the country are all that convinced, either. Then there’s Anden himself, and here’s why he didn’t work for me: it becomes evident very quickly in the story that Anden is actually not a bad person; that he genuinely wants to help his people. Problem: history has repeatedly proven that the sons of tyrants are often far worse. But this is fiction, right? I mean, the Author can decide that this is one instance where that isn’t the case. Yeah, she can, but it rendered her world so much less believable for me than if she had done differently. Other than this major flaw, there were some “smaller” things that actually didn’t stand out in Legend, but hit me in this one. June’s family was put to death for treasonous acts - her father, her mother, her brother. If June and her brother’s parents were enemies of the state, there is no way June and her brother would have continued to live as elite members of society; I don’t care how special June’s abilities are. The children of treasonous parents are sent to concentration camps, or shot.

Writing Style: Choppy, as usual, first-person present-tense narration, movie-ish. In a word, I don’t like it. And what was up with the font’s color changing between June and Day’s narrations? It got on my nerves. I’m not giving this book a low rating due to that, though; that was the least of my dislikes for writing style. The Author probably had no control over format. No, I had more issue with the Author’s insistence on writing moment-by-moment scenes of Day and his gang doing parquer up and over trains. Parquer is fun to watch; not so much to read. And while it may seem a trifling thing, I hated - absolutely hated - the slang. I’ll admit, the slang in The Maze Runner was irritating, but the stuff in Prodigy irritated me so much more. Why couldn’t the Author just call “comps” computers, since that is so obviously what they were? Between the exclamations of “goddy,” “trot,” “cousin,” (an endearment term that died out with the Elizabethan era, and should stay that way), and everyone ending their sentences in “yeah” (I thought “eh” was bad!), I developed such a twitch that I finally had a emotional breakdown and started shouting at the book, causing my sister no small amount of concern for my mental health. And really, JumboTrons? That bothered me in Legend, too.

Content: The Author decides to “reveal” that June’s brother was gay. How this furthers the plot is beyond me. And there was nothing cute and endearing about Pascao flirting with Day.

Conclusion: The flight from the Colonies was so ridiculously movie-ish that I visibly shuddered. It reminded me a Mission: Impossible movie, which is not a compliment. And then the ridiculously emotional conclusion between Day and June was way too dramatic, and clearly put there for the fangirls. It promises for a rollercoaster of emotional misunderstandings and miscommunications in the last installment. I am really not looking forward to the third book. Prodigy was what I expected: annoying characters, unfortunate believability issues, movie writing, and emotional blowups. So in that respect, I wasn’t disappointed.

Recommended Audience: I would say this is a guy-read, but the emotions are so high that I’d peg this for more of a girl-read. Sixteen-and-up, good for fans of Legend.

Others in This Trilogy:

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