Book Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Posted 01/29/2013 by alicemarvels in Dystopian


Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Page Count: 384


so much improvement over book one; better developed world; more realistic romance; wonderful character growth


serious emotional cliffy angst

Prodigy is a sequel that far exceeds its excellent predecessor, and paves the way for a remarkable series ending.

(If you haven’t read Legend yet, beware spoilers! And seriously, what are you waiting for?)

At the beginning of Prodigy, we pick up right where we left June and Day in Legend—on a train headed for Las Vegas, where they hope to meet up with Patriot allies and find a way to rescue Day’s little brother Eden from his Republic captors. June has left her charmed life of privilege and status behind to break Day out of prison and run with him. Day and June are each nursing physical and emotional wounds from the events in Legend, but they barely have time to rest and reflect before they’re sucked into even more dangerous political intrigue. This time the Patriots have plans for the dynamic duo, and as they are backed into a corner with few options, they have no choice but to trust them and play along.

Let me start out by saying that I how much I truly enjoyed Legend. What an amazing take on the (now seemingly overdone) dystopian YA novel! It was so entertaining to have a Les Mis dynamic in a futuristic world with teen protagonists, and I thoroughly enjoyed the physical and mental sparring between the prodigy, June, and the master criminal, Day. The romance and friendship that blossoms between these two main characters truly blurred the lines between oppressor and oppressed, with sizzling romantic chemistry to further ramp up the drama. It was a fast-paced fun ride, and I liked the characters quite a bit, especially Day.

That being said, Prodigy is a MUCH better book than Legend. We get the same calculation and cunning from these two young characters that made the first book so riveting, and even more exciting action. Best of all, this story packs a serious emotional punch. Day and June’s personalities are further fleshed out in this installment, and we get welcome insight into their inner emotional lives. Our picture of the Republic and the Colonies expands marvelously into a well-drawn, believable world, making for a more intense, realistic story. Questions that June and Day didn’t have time to ask in book one because of the breakneck pace are pondered here: How much do they really know about each other? Who are their real enemies? How far does the corruption in the Republic go, and where does it stop—with the Elector, the Senate, the soldiers, and/or the populace? We get a few answers to these questions in Prodigy, but we’re also left with many more questions by the end of the book.

Why Prodigy Outshines Legend

A More Realistic Romance

We know June and Day are both very attractive, brave, kind-hearted people, and they have amazing chemistry. But they also have serious relationship issues, and being separated for most of the novel while they try to pursue a Patriot mission only seems to add to their list of problems. They have surface tension—coming from different worlds, finding it difficult to relate to one another without being insulting; and much deeper problems—June playing such a crucial role in the deaths of John and Day’s mother. Each of them has to give up SO much to be together—and they finally ask the tough questions that the reader is already raising (however begrudgingly). Their love is not pretty, it’s not fairy-tale, but it feels realistic and hard-won.

June Steps It Up

I liked June quite a bit in Legend, but I really adored her in Prodigy. She has given up everything for Day, but that doesn’t mean she devolves into a gushy, lovestruck teen, or that she loses her identity. She is still the indefatigable and whipsmart prodigy we know from book one, but romantic love seems to have matured her even more, if that’s possible.

June puts her foot in her mouth often with Day, and she has a hard time expressing her feelings correctly. Sometimes it feels like she’s on another planet. She’s more comfortable discussing how many steps she’s taken into a tunnel, or how many square feet are in a room she just walked into than she is talking about her romantic feelings. She kind of reminds me of Spock—she has an almost Vulcan-like commitment to logic and order and intellectual prowess, and it can be hilariously off-putting sometimes. But June really does love Day, even if she isn’t quite comfortable verbalizing it. I felt so much more connected to June in Prodigy than I did in Legend, and I’m rooting for her to find safety and happiness in book three.

Supporting Cast Comes To Life

Tess evolves wonderfully in this sequel from the timid girl sidekick she was in Legend into a self-reliant and confident woman. She challenges Day in many ways in this novel, causing him to question his feelings for June, and his own suppressed feelings about his brother’s and mother’s deaths. I can’t say I loved her, mostly because I resented the truth bombs she dropped into Day and June’s relationship, but I feel like she’s a more 3D character now.

Kaede! I absolutely loved her in this book. In Legend, she was a brash gun-for-hire sort of gal, quick to anger, with few alliances. We learn much more about Kaede and see her show her more human, less badass side (though there is still plenty of badassery to be had).

Thomas is a character I would have thought beyond even a shred of my sympathy, and yet Marie Lu found a way to make me care about him, and actually even feel sorry for him. Quite a feat after the stuff he pulled in book one.

Vivid World-building

Legend did a good job of establishing the world of the military-state Republic, setting it up as a sort of North Korea style dictator hell for its citizens. We learn so much more about the world that came before the Republic, and we get some insight into the fabled Colonies as well. Legend painted broad, legible world-building strokes that made sense but didn’t invite too much scrutiny; Prodigy renders a complex and realistic future fractured United States, adding so much depth to the story.

Heart-pumping Action

The action in Legend was thrilling, but this installment ramps it up even more. Lu writes with cinematic style that is particularly effective during complex scenes of tense, nail-biting danger. She seems to have realized this is one of her greatest strengths, because she plays to it often throughout the book. The dual perspectives of June and Day serve to keep our perspective on the action fresh, and provide added suspense when we’re clued in to a devastating revelation unknown to the other character.

Prodigy is a sequel that far exceeds its excellent predecessor, and paves the way for a remarkable series ending.

Check out our Prodigy Blog Tour stop with Marie Lu!
Read an excerpt here.
Watch the trailers:


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    I’m so excited to read this! I haven’t read Legend in so long, I feel like I need to maybe re-read at least the last chapter. I’m very glad to hear you liked this one better than the second book!


    Ooooo YAY! I love when a sequel outshines it’s predecessor! I still have to read Legend so I have to admit to skimming your review, but I’m super excited that the romance is kicked up a notch in this book and feels more real. I love a book that packs an emotional punch, so I’m thinking I need to hurry up and read Legend so I can get to Prodigy! Fabulous review:)


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    I love June and Day, but I think my favorite star-crossed couple is still Romeo and Juliet. It just doesn’t get better than that!


    I really liked June in the first book! Yay for more June love! I can’t wait to read Prodigy this weekend!


    Wow! This is a series I have got to get to! I am a huge fan of a good dystopian with solid world building and I am happy to hear that this book has that. I also like that it has a believable romance and action…yes please! Awesome. Thanks for the chance to win this!

    Maddie R

    I love that trailer! They do such great work, like on the hunger games trailers.


    I really enjoyed this one, too! While I liked Legend, I loved Prodigy for all of the reasons you listed and more (oh, that world! Fabulous.).


    I LOVE hearing that there is so much improvement over book one as Legend wasn’t my favorite, though I was intrigued by the ending and can’t wait to read Prodigy 🙂


    I can’t wait to read this. I”m so glad to hear that the series gets even better. Thanks for providing a review!


    SO excited for this book! And my favorite star-crossed couple would have to be Elizabeth and Darcy 🙂


    My favorite star-crossed couple is probably Wanderer and Ian.


    While there are many modern and paranormal star-crossed couples I love, I’m going old school and saying Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.


    My favorite Star Crossed Couple is probably Juliette and Warner from Shatter Me, although they aren’t really a couple I guess…its more of a love/the guy is completely crazy sort of scenario which is always my favorite!


    I think one of my favorite star crossed couples is Bliss and Dylan in the first few Blue Bloods novels. It’s so sad. (SPOILER) but I’m glad that she finally found Lawson and they fell in love 🙂


    Bella and Edward

    Audra B.

    My favorite star-crossed couple is Kate and Henry from The Goddess Test series!


    Ahhhhhhh, i really, really, REALLY need this book!!!! My favourite Star-Crossed couples would have to be, Akiva and Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. As well as Alex and Brittany from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles :DThanks for the giveaway!!!

    Katherina Barney

    My favorite star-crossed lovers are Perry and Aria; Cassia and Ky; Lucas and Helen to name a few 🙂 REALLY excited about this sequel!!

    Priyanka Mara

    It may seem cliched, but Romeo and Juliet.


    Well I have to say…. Luce and Daniel from Fallen series!! I mean come on they’re love in so tragic and romantic at the same time and above all, it can fight agast divine punishment and a devil’s curse!! XD What is not to love!!


    Oh My Gosh! This series is awesome! I read it already and you should read it to! June and Day
    are perfect! All the adventure and action in this series makes me want to read more!


    Whats the theme of the book?

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