Review of “Legend” by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 305
Published: 2011, Penguin Books
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 plague victims

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

MY REVIEW

First, before anything else, I have to say that the grade might have been affected by the fact that this was not read, but listened to. I almost feel like I have cheated. For the first time in my life, I have listened to an audiobook. I took a trip up to my cousins in Nynäshamn and it is 5 hours each way. I was alone and felt that I would get bored if I only listened to music, so I tried an audiobook for the very first time. During those 10 hours it took me to drive back and forth, I managed to finish Legend and 25% of Prodigy (#2).

I usually don’t have big expectations on books. But I was a little disappointed by this. Don’t mistake me, it was a good book and definitely enjoyable listening too. Perhaps I went through too much of it in too short time, but it felt like not much was happening. I also got the feeling that this was a very long introduction to the story, that most of the exciting things are happening in #2 and forward.

I really liked the characters, they felt real. Although it is pretty cliché-y that the main characters are from opposite sides of the social hierarchy and that they fall in love and all of that. But it does not overtake the main story of the new Republic of America.

One thing I really liked when listening to it was that they had two people reading, one man for the boy and one woman for the girl. It made it feel more alive, even if perhaps I wouldn’t have given them those voices in my head.

Character building

I have come so far in my story now that it is time to really think about the characters, to get to know them. So far it has just been the main character. But now there are other characters, and even if they aren’t too many yet, I still need to know everything about them when I am writing so I give the right hints about who they are without writing right off who they are. I realized this today. So I wrote about 500 words in the story, and then have dedicated the rest of the evening to character descriptions.

Name – title of the character
Looks
Age
Gift
Inevitability
Heritage
Background

These are the categories I am now describing my characters with. As for now, it is enough. I give them a little background story that motivates their actions and behaviors in the present. It is really fascinating, it is like I am really getting to know these people.

Here, let me introduce to you the first group of people in my story: Myra, Leem, Meon, Uulu, Yuli, Mali, Edo, and Nio. Who they are, you will have to stay tuned to find out.

A big help

Today I got my first real constructive criticism and it was so inspiring! One of my mom’s friends has taken many writing classes and knows what makes a text a good one. She read chapter 1 and 2 and gave me a lot of tips that I will think about in my writing from now on. I did already feel that chapter 1 and 2 were very different from at least 4 and forward, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. She helped me to understand what it was and the biggest thing is that I have only used descriptions in those two chapters, not “gestaltning” as she called it. That is best explained as when you are writing events as they are happening, rather than describing them. It is hard to understand, but as soon as she said it I totally understood what she meant, and I will rewrite some in those two chapters. On the other hand it is a nice progression from only backward-looking descriptions in the beginning to more descriptions of actual events as they happen and I think that progression is going very smoothly, like the introduction of the book is slowly turning into the actual book, if that makes any sense.

She also told me the importance of good environment descriptions and how to use them. I have good descriptions, but she told me that I can use some of them in the future when the character is looking back at something for example. That is good advice. It is no fun reading and not leaving anything mysterious for the reader to think about.

It was extremely helpful and I am so grateful that I got some real help with my writing. She also told me that it is very well-written and that I write better than some that she has taken writing classes with. That felt good to hear and a perfect spurr for me to continue. Today, after meeting her, I wrote almost 1 000 words! I think I finished chapter 6! Go me!

She was also super nice and lent me three books about writing. Stephen King’s memoir, a course book she had for one of the courses she took and a book about fantasy “Thousand Years of Fantasy” with descriptions of fantasy through the ages. I am not going to write high fantasy with dragons, unicorns or dwarfs, but I am sure I can learn a lot from it anyway! I compare my book with Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses the most. It will be a feel-good fantasy story.

A big big shoutout to Helena. Thank you!!

Swedish summer – the best day of the year

This summer, that is not a joke. Today has been the only day so far this summer that was something to hang in the Christmas tree (I think that is a Swedish expression, but it basically means something that was good). And best of all, both Jesper and I had the day off work! Since I love the ocean, we went to it with my mom and Jespers younger sister.

It was 25 C (77 F) and the hottest day so far this year. It has been around 15 C, rainy and on the verge of storm for three weeks straight! It’s been awful. Tomorrow, it will be colder again and rain all day. So this might literally have been the only summer day that was this year. Sad, sad, sad…

We drove to Öckerö, an island in the northern archipeago of Gothenburg. When I was a kid, we always drove out there, had lots and lots of ice cream and played in the water for hours every day (back then, the summers were always warm and not stormy, it would probably be fair to say that the amount of sunny days this summer equals the amount of stormy and fall-y days when I was younger). Not so much playing in the water today, but I definitely went in and I am fairly certain when I say that this was my first dip in the Swedish ocean probably since 2015 or maybe 2014. Not okay!! Water is my element and it sucks that I haven’t been in it for so long (Greece last July though).

I did not get any reading done, nor any writing or thinking of ideas for my book. We walked around, Jesper took pictures and we barbecued dinner on the cliffs. It was the perfect summer day!

Here are some pictures that I took:

And here are some pictures that Jesper took:

What do YOU want to read?

I have had some troubles coming up with names for my book, but today at work I got a great idea from a dear colleague of mine. He asked me where Örebro (his hometown) fit in my story. I told him that if I changed it to sound a little more English-y I would definitely name a place that. Then he also asked me to put a castle in it. I might actually use it where I am in the story right now, under water. Or perhaps later in the ice plain?

Anyway, my great idea is for you, my dear fellow readers, to give me names of places you want in my story. Or things. Like his idea of putting Örebro with a big castle in the story. So, let me know what you want to read!

My writing process

Like I have said previously, writing has always been a huge interest of mine. My imagination has pretty much never run dry, except when it was in ‘power save mode’ when I was at Chalmers and was busy with other stuff. I have never taken a creative writing class, nor any similar classes on how to write and without knowing anything at all about the “official” way to write a book, I have chosen my own path and created my very own writing process. And so far so good!

I started to actually write on June 12th this year, but that was after some planning and thinking. I can’t tell exactly for how long I had been thinking about the plot and environment, but at least a month. I wrote down everything that came to my mind in a document, and when that document was 8 pages or so long, I couldn’t keep myself from starting to write.

I still use the note document, there are many many things I haven’t thought of yet. I even have a small physical notebook always in my pocket so that I can write down things as soon as they come to me, wherever I might be.

My note document is divided in different parts.

  • Plot
  • Environment
  • Characters
  • General thoughts

Under Plot I have both a short short version of the whole plot, no details, just the major steps in the story. I also have started on a more descriptive version of the plot where I write a paragraph on all the things that will happen. I haven’t made it too far on that and probably should spend some time on it so I don’t write more than I have planned for. I want this to be a well-thought story where everything is connected and makes sense.

Under Environment I have written descriptions of all the different territories and their potential names. Names are hard! I have also used some references for this part so the climates make sense.

The part about Characters are pretty short right now. I have no idea what the main character’s name should be, but I know that character so it has been easy to just write it as it happens. Up until this point she has been alone so I have to work more on that part now. I have written down several names, I have thought of themes that the different tribes’ names will have, but those names are not live persons in my head right now unfortunately… This is a fantasy story, so there has to be some magic in it, and here comes a minor spoiler perhaps, but all characters will have a power and a determined destiny so I have written lists of potential powers and destinies as well.

Under General Thoughts I have written down my yeses and noes. What things have I previously read and loved or hated? What things should be in the story and what should not. What do I enjoy to read? That is also the part in which I write questions I ask myself on stuff that I am unsure of and need some time to figure out.

 

As of now, I have the major plot all figured out. Now it is time for the minor details that will make the whole book great! I have been thinking a lot about one part and I really want to write it, but it is at the end, or at least very far ahead, and I don’t want to write outside of the order. The characters will develop and it will be weird to write stuff that will happen, even if it will be super cool, before I have written what will happen until then.

 

I honestly don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to write a book. My way probably could use some improvements, but I am having fun and it is exciting to figure something out all on your own!

10 000 words

A milestone was just reached: 10 000 written words!

I don’t know if I have a goal. What is a normal book? 150k maybe? If I write in this pace, and write that many words, it might be done in 15 months, haha. That is so far away!

I started writing on June 12th, and 10 000 words in one month doesn’t seem too bad. I do feel however, that I would have come further if I wasn’t so distracted at home. I don’t know why, but whenever my boyfriend is home, Netflix is always on, even if he is doing something on his computer. It is very hard to concentrate with something on in the background… I might try to find a place somewhere where I can sit and write, undisturbed. Best would be to get a two bedroom apartment soon so I can have a whole room to myself, but with the housing shortage, I wouldn’t count on it happening anytime soon.