Legend by Marie Lu

If I had to describe Legend in one word, it would be this: unputdownable.

This novel disrupted my sleep. It kept me up far too late, distracted me while I was trying to work, and made me google the release date of the sequel the moment I turned the final page. In the flood of YA dystopian novels, Legend is the true heir to The Hunger Games: action-packed, dark and emotional, with compelling characters and a wonderfully woven plot.

June is the Republic's greatest prodigy. Intelligent, resilient, analytical, observant, agile and strong, she is eager to join the military and serve the great Elector, like her brother and parents have before her. Day is a slum-dweller and the Republic's most wanted criminal, desperate to protect his estranged family from the plague that is spreading through their district. When Day kills June's older brother in a raid for plague cures, June is recruited to lead the hunt for his capture.

Legend is the sort of novel that will make you think "just one more chapter," over and over again, late into the night. The plot is absolutely gripping, hurtling forwards at the perfect pace, but the characters are what really make this novel shine. June and Day are both complicated and compelling individuals, with emotional arcs that feel incredibly genuine. Sometimes the inevitable romance feels a little forced, in an "I've known you three days, and I love you!" kind of way, but their relationship usually takes a backseat to June's growing discoveries about the government she works for, the endless moral dilemmas, and their struggles to do the right thing, whatever that might turn out to be.

Legend isn't going to win any awards for beautiful prose or insightful social commentary, but if you're looking for a dark, fast-paced action-adventure with a fabulous and complex female protagonist, definitely check this one out.