Champion by Marie Lu

 

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Amazon | Goodreads

Champion is the thrilling conclusion of the Legend trilogy. When we first see June again, she’s working with the Elector as his Princess-Elect in Denver, learning to be his right-hand-woman. Day is back in LA, middling through his clot? Aneurysm? Brain damage? I’m not really sure, so we’ll stick to chronic headaches that will probably kill him. While the Elector has brokered peace with the Colonies, the threat of a new, mutated virus brings with it new attacks from them. And this time, they’ve got help from Africa (which is now a major military power).

 

Do you know how you can tell if you need a good soul-crushing book? Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t one and that’s okay. But when you read something sad (like about a boy whose slowly dying of a brain lesion) and you’re not sad (at all) because you know everything will workout in the end. I was more sad about June’s first birthday without Ollie in the epilogue. And I think that says more about the headspace I’m in than anything else, so that’s cool.

I still am really appreciative of the character building in this series. There was never a moment where I was like, “WHY are you doing this?” Everything made sense and no one went off the rails. I think June’s story is much more compelling than Day’s throughout the whole thing, but I’ve always enjoyed the political side of dystopian, and she got to see much more of that than Day ever did.

That ending was really something. All the loose-ends were tied without seeming like it was cheated. Our main character didn’t die because we weren’t sure how to tie up everyone’s relationship with her, and we didn’t magically and unreasonably get over the fact that major sources of both characters pain was the other. It felt plausible and real. In the acknowledgements, Lu says that she’s not sure when June and Day are headed, but that she’s sure they’re going to be okay. After the trip that we’ve had so far with them, I’m really glad. They deserve to be okay.

I genuinely don’t have a bad thing to say about this book. It was well-written, it’s a fun read, and I like the characters. My favorite part about Day and June together is how he interacts with her. It feels very southern-hospitality-ish. I’m sad about how little time they spend together throughout the series. I most enjoyed

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Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

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Amazon | Goodreads

If you’re interested, check out our previous reviews for Rebel of the Sands and Traitor to the Throne.

 

Amani and Jin are together again, and it feels like its them against the world. With Ahmed and the bulk of the rebellion imprisoned by the Sultan, Amani is in charge. Her jobs include: figuring out how to stop the Abdals, stopping the Sultan from killing innocent girls as revenge for kidnapping his daughter, rescue the others, and keeping everyone alive long enough to get those things done. In the words of my favorite internet child, that’s just 4 things.

So yes, Amani and Jin are back together again. After a whole book apart, there’s this weird tension between them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely understandable and there are definitely some things that they need to unbox, but it was still weird for me to get through. If Amani and Jin could just talk to each other, everything might be easier, but neither of them have even been very good at talking about anything.

It’s also worth talking about the insane altruism of these two. Amani’s right, she’s not the same girl from Dustwalk. Now she’s Amani al’Bahadur, powerful demdji of the desert, and her duty is to Miraji and the rebellion. And Jin showed remarkable character too. I think what’s more remarkable is that he’s not in this for the millions of people of the desert country. He’s got a list that’s exactly 3 people long who matter to him: Amhed, Delila and Amani. And he’d still give up one of them for the others. While the excessive sense of selflessness is frustrating because of the barrier it creates between Amani and Jin, it’s also admirable, and it’s why things worked out the way they did in the long run.

And that’s part of why the djinn find the humans so fascinating: they live such short, insignificant lives compared to the djinn, but everything matters so much to the humans. When you’ve got a fire that burns for such a short time, it can’t help but burn bright. They’re willing to sacrifice anything for something that really matters to them, and that’s kinda beautiful.

More than anything else, I love how Hamilton writes stories. She emphasizes how reality never truly lives up to the legend, and she really uses that in the chapters that are written as stories. It creates this wonderful sense of magic and contributes to the world she’s worked to build.

Not to mention, her writing style is beautiful. Do you ever read books aloud? Just to marvel at how the words sound? Sometimes I do that with this series, because it sounds so pretty and builds so much suspense. Hamilton is a true wordsmith, and the stories she tells are mesmerizing.

Amani’s story is one of my favorites of all time. I encourage everyone I know to pick up a copy and own both digital and hard copies. Alwyn Hamilton crafted some amazing characters and this book was the conclusion they deserved. I am so sincerely looking forward to reading all of her future works.

 

Prodigy by Marie Lu

 

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Before you check out this review, you should flip back and check out our review of Legend.

Prodigy begins where Legend leaves off, with our heroes June and Day on a train bound for Denver and the warfront. There, they come face-to-face with the Patriots, who they ask for help to save Day’s life. In return, they must complete a mission for the Patriots: assassinate the new Elector. June is asked to play the part of dutiful soldier to the Republic one more time while Day enters the ranks of the Patriots as one of their Runners. Collectively, they may bring down the Republic.

In Prodigy, we finally get to see the famed Colonies, and we realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. While the Republic is a classist military state, the Colonies are a solidly capitalist state, and June and Day find they’re not too fond of that either. While the Republic controls their people based on fear and might, the Colonies create control by suppressing the lower class.

I wish we’d gotten to spend more time with June and the Elector. She was with him for a total of days, but I think he’s an interesting character who deserved more time to develop and interact with. On a contrary note, when Lu develops Anden and Tess in the context of love interests for Day and June, it’s a bit contrived. The love triangle this is played out, and to be expected. June & Anden and Tess & Day make much more sense together than June and Day do, but that’s part of what makes them compelling together. Also on the other hand, June and Day are right; there’s a lot that went on between them, and some of it doesn’t feel forgivable.

The twist at the end of the novel was drafted really well by Lu. She uses June’s sense of perception to hint at who turns tail in the end. It creates a sense of surprise that you don’t really see coming.

In my review of Legend, I decided the story of the Republic was fun, but lacked substance. Prodigy changes that a little bit, as the readers eyes are opened a bit farther to the world we’re dealing with. I hope that the trend continues in Champion.