It’s my 300th post here on Knight Reader!!!  Let’s all pause to do the dance of joy before I get to my latest read…

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, we can move on to the real reason for this post.  I just finished a truly outstanding book that will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Ally Condie’s Matched series, and other notable dystopian literature.  The book is Legend by Marie Lu.  I finally picked this up a few days ago after several librarians and bloggers recommended it, and I was hooked from the first page. 

Legend takes place in what I can only assume is the not-too-distant future, in an America that is divided and engaged in a civil war.  Two young people are being drawn together by death, secrets, and lies…and neither of them knows who to trust.

Day is the most wanted person in the Republic of America (formerly known as the west coast of the United States). He’s considered a traitor and a threat to the government…and he’s fifteen. Day knows that the Republic is keeping secrets from the people, and he’s doing his best to thwart their efforts. He’s also trying to keep his family safe from the plagues that kill more and more people every year.

June is a fifteen-year-old on the brink of becoming one of the youngest military officers in history.  She is a prodigy committed to her country, her duty, and her brother, Metias.  She has a few issues with following rules, but she is secure in what her future holds…until one night changes everything.

When June’s brother is murdered and the blame falls on Day, the lives of these two young people become entangled.  June goes on the hunt for her brother’s killer, and Day is still searching for a way to protect his family.  Eventually, their paths cross.  Neither is prepared for the immediate chemistry between them.  And neither is prepared for the fallout when their true identities come to light.

June thought she knew everything about Day, her brother’s death, and the Republic, but her time with Day, things she witnesses, and cryptic messages from her brother are causing her to question everything she knows.  What is the Republic’s true agenda, and can she and Day figure things out before one (or both) of them meet the same fate as Metias?  Read Legend by Marie Lu to discover how far a corrupt government will go to make sure its secrets stay secret.

I cannot say enough about Legend.  I am shocked that this is Marie Lu’s first novel.  It is truly amazing, and it definitely gives paranoid people like me something to worry think about.  In my opinion, this would be a great read for anyone interested in government and how much power one should be allowed to have over its people.  (When I was reading, I kept seeing images of Hitler’s rise to power.  It’s not that much of a stretch to think that it could happen again.)

This wonderful story has already been optioned for a movie (like so many great young adult books) by CBS Films, and director Jonathan Levine is already attached to the project.  If done right, Legend will be amazing on the big screen.  Marie Lu’s writing makes Legend a “movie in my mind,” so I look forward to seeing if Hollywood’s version lives up to the one in my imagination.  (This rarely happens, but a girl can dream.)

Legend is gripping, fast-paced, and full of suspense and intrigue.  It is fairly violent (as is most dystopian literature), so keep that in mind when recommending it to young readers.  This is a book, like The Hunger Games, that will appeal to male and female readers, and it will not limit itself to young adult fans. 

If you’d like more information on this amazing first book in the Legend series (the second is due out sometime this year) and author Marie Lu, visit http://marielu.org/index.html and http://www.legendtheseries.com/.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Princess of the Midnight Ball

I love a good fairy tale.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is still one of my favorite Disney movies of all time.  And what girl didn’t dream of being Belle in Beauty and the Beast (especially since the Beast gave her that wicked awesome library)?  My point is…fairy tales are great.  They’re even better when they’re adapted for a new audience.  My latest read is just such a tale.  Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball is a retelling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it has been retold to fit a young adult audience.  Now, many of my students will claim that they’re too old for fairy tales, but I contend that you’re never too old for a great story of romance and good triumphing over evil.  They’ll get it all in Princess of the Midnight Ball.

Princess Rose and her eleven sisters mysteriously disappear every night.  No one knows where they go, and the sisters cannot speak of their activities.  The only evidence that evil is afoot is their worn-out dancing slippers.  The sisters are under the power of the King Under Stone, a horrid being who is imprisoned deep within the earth.  The princesses are condemned to dance for him every night at his Midnight Ball.  There is seemingly no escape from this horrible curse.

Galen, a soldier returning from war, has recently been hired as a gardener at the palace.  He notices that things are not right with the princesses.  When the king begins to offer rewards for he who can solve the mystery of his daughters’ nightly activities, and the princes who try to figure things out begin to die, Galen starts to piece things together (with the help of a few magicians-in-disguise).  He is determined to help the princesses, especially Rose, break their curse.  He seeks no reward other than the knowledge that the princesses are safe.  (But we all know how those things go…the brave but poor commoner is really the best guy for the nice princess to end up with.)  Will he succeed?  Will the curse be broken?  What will become of the princesses, Galen, and the King Under Stone?  I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

Princess of the Midnight Ball is a lovely story, and the book cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.  Although this will be marketed as a “girl book,” there’s lots in it that guys will find appealing–danger, fighting, and bad guys.  It’s a winner for all readers!