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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Here it is. Three years after the first time I read it, I can finally talk about the greatness that is Champion. I could declare many praises of it that would probably just be memory failing me, like “Champion was my first memorable fantasy ending” and “Champion is one of the books that solidified my love for this genre,” but I’ll stay in the present.
One of the things that Champion proved to me during this reread was that this book, and its ending in particular, still has the power to shake me. Time, and all the books I’ve read in the past three years, couldn’t change that.
I’ll save the best for last, so I’ll talk about the weak parts first.
Objectively speaking, Champion‘s beginning reminds me of the feel of Prodigy. We get the entire spectrum of the previous book’s emotions within the first 100 pages, just sped up. The writing will be weak one page, and then strong the next. It keeps rolling over like that until you get to the middle of the story.
The beginning is made additionally rocky by the fact that it’s a transition period. It’s trying to start the ending while tying off the ending. What I mean by that is that a few of the problems introduced in the first books are resolved and Lu finishes prepping the finale.
Also, there’s this awkward place between the beginning and the middle where things are starting to catch up again, and that bit tends to be boring. It’s over quickly though, and we’re thrown back into the action and adventure. The entire time, we see the conflict between the characters. In Champion, the tension between June and Day spikes. They’re fighting for the same overarching dream, but life isn’t that easy, and Champion doesn’t pretend like it is. The two of them grapple with numerous conflicts as the story progresses, and this is where my appreciation for this book starts.
As I mentioned in my review of Prodigy, 99% of these criticisms aren’t ones I feel while I’m reading the book. They’re ones that I can observe and reflect on at an objective level, but not ones that at all dampen my enthusiasm for these books. And while I’m looking at the story on a critical level, I have to note that Champion is the capstone of the depth of the trilogy.
Over the course of the series, Lu’s books become steadily deeper. Instead of just seeing all the action shots, we come to appreciate who Day and June are as people. I certainly understood their quarrels on a much deeper level after this reread. There are serious divisions between them, and Champion recognizes that. In the end, even at an objective viewpoint, I love these stories more than I dislike them because of their depth and character.
And on an emotional level, this book hits hard. Everything there is to be said about this book, and this series in general, has already been said in my other throwback reviews (see Legend‘s and Prodigy‘s), except for the emotional aspect. When I started this series for the first time, the last thing I expected out of it was to be completely overwhelmed at the end by feels, but that’s what happened.
To date, Champion has one of the best endings I’ve ever read. It satisfies the reader while still ending the only way it could’ve ended. To sum up this entire review, Champion is brilliant, and it cemented my love for Marie Lu’s writing. The story is realistic and not wholly original, yet it pulls us in the way only a book can and it leaves us with a sense that something magical’s happened. (I’m getting into the cheese here, but you get the gist.)
Overall, I’m grateful for the opportunity (carved out by Slowathon) to reread these books, and to finally review what will most likely become one of my five star picks at the end of this year. 4.5 stars.