I did it. I finally did it. Years after reading what is now one of my favorite series for the first time, I bought Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy.
Isn’t it beautiful?
I’ll squeeze in another reread of these sometime, but what really caught my attention was the copy of Life Before Legend. It’s a set of two short stories that capture Day and June’s lives three years before the events of Legend, and I was excited about the opportunity to return to this world and see another side of these two amazing characters.
Especially when I first read this series, I was in awe of how smart and talented June and Day are–and in a little bit of disbelief. A common criticism about this series is how overpowered these characters–still teenagers–seem to be. Lu shows us an entirely different side to Day and June in Life Before Legend.
They’re immature, unsure of who they are and what their capabilities are, and not entirely at the peak of what they can do. Both of them are doing the best they can to come to terms with the changing circumstances of their lives, Day because of his recent separation from his family and the failure of his Trial, and June because of her entrance into Drake and her status as a prodigy. They have all the fears, doubts, and hopes of twelve-year-olds.
Of course, they’re still precocious, growing up too quickly in lives that demand nothing less, but I was impressed by these sides of them. I think these short stories are great answers to the criticisms about Day and June’s remarkable maturity: Lu isn’t giving them their abilities and personalities because she wants to make her characters superheroes, but because that’s just who they are.
Another thing that particularly stood out to me was how quickly the older storyline stole my heart. By no means does that imply I want Lu to go on with this trilogy. I think it’s perfect where she left it, and I’m glad that she’s moving on and writing other works, unlike the handful of other hugely successful authors who seem to find themselves trapped in their own worlds. But I did thoroughly enjoy returning to this series.
Although I’ll go down with the Day and June ship, I loved getting to know Day’s first kiss, and I sympathized with his situation all over again. I could also clearly see June having her own middle-grade series, and I would gladly follow her through her time at Drake and her entrance into the army. I heard that there’ll be a second Life Before Legend anyway, so we’ll how that goes.
With Life Before Legend, Lu opened my eyes to the whole lifetimes, not just the teenage and young adult years, of her characters. A while back, there was a TTT about characters I would love to see as grown-ups (I’m certain that I did it, but apparently it got sucked into the Internet void), and in a backwards kind of way, Lu fulfilled that wish for me with Day and June.
I would definitely recommend reading these short stories if you’re a fan of the series. It was a perfect return to the world of Legend, and I’m glad that I finally got my own copies of this trilogy.