I was a bit disappointed by this one. Not that it was bad necessarily, just not what I wanted. It fell into a bunch of traps I was so happy Lu avoided in book one.
Prodigy is the second novel in the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu (yes, yet another YA trilogy — the entire universe will apparently collapse on itself if a YA author were to publish a stand-alone). She started writing it after wondering what a modern day Les Miserables might look like — specifically the bit with a supposed criminal being chased by a noble law enforcer – but it went to a way different place after that. Her world is set in the future, not sure how far yet, but apparently long enough for global warming to have caused massive flooding in the US, which in turn caused a social upheaval that ended with the county split in two. Our two heroes live in the Western half of the country, which is essentially a military superstate called the Republic. June is the titular prodigy, a military wunderkind who graduated college at the age of fifteen and who was being groomed for greatness in the Republic’s upper echelons. Day is also a prodigy of a sort: a prodigious thief and troublemaker. When the series started, Day was an anonymous Robin Hood sort of figure the state (and thus June) was bent on identifying.But that was book one. If you read any further in this review, please note that I am going to hardcore spoil Legend for you.
Legend saw June and Day meet unbeknownst to each other’s true identities, fall in lurrrve, betray one another, and then get back together again when June inevitably realized the State is not the beautiful idealistic machine she thought it was. It was fun and fast and didn’t take itself too seriously. Prodigy picks up right where Legend left off, with June and Day on the run, heading to Las Vegas to meet up with the Patriots, a rebel group supposedly out to unite the two halves of the former United States once again. They would head for the border if it weren’t for Day’s little brother being captive in the hands of the Republic. So they strike a deal with The Patriots. In exchange for their, er, services, The Patriots will help Day find and save his little brother. Things go pear-shaped from there.
I originally gave this book four stars but it's since lost a little bit of its luster in my memory. It took a pretty serious turn, which was a problem for me as part of the appeal of the first one was how fun it was. It also introduced a damn love triangle. Actually, wait. Love QUADRANGLE. On top of the quadrangling, Lu made both Day and June think those dumb thoughts only really hackneyed writers make their characters think: Oh, why does he/she love me? I'm not good enough! How can I ever compare! He/she would be better off without me! I hate that so much. And because of all that, the cliched storytelling that I pretty much ignored in the first one because of the pace and how fun it was caught up to me this time. It was a significantly less fun reading experience.
Still, it was pretty neat how fast Lu races through her story, so at least the parts that were predictable or cliche didn't linger long. Prodigy ends in a place I thought it wouldn't hit maybe until the middle of book three. Parts of the story were even surprising and moving (unfortunately not the majority). Plus half a star for having prose that doesn't sound like it was written by a ten year old, and for distinguishing stylistically between the voices of her two narrators.