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Legend by Marie Lu Summary, Characters and Themes

Marie Lu’s “Legend” is a dystopian young adult novel set in a futuristic Los Angeles. 

In the novel, The Republic, a harsh militaristic government, constantly battles its neighbors. June is a prodigy destined for a high-ranking position, while Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. When June’s brother is murdered, she believes Day is responsible. In her pursuit of the truth, June and Day’s paths cross, blurring the lines between enemies, forcing them to question everything they know about the Republic and their loyalties.


In a dystopian future, the United States is a battleground between the Republic of America and the Colonies. 

Citizens of the Republic face the Trial, a relentless test on their tenth birthday that determines their entire future. Those who excel become society’s elite, while those who fail meet an uncertain and often grim fate.

June Iparis is a prodigy. She’s the only person to ever achieve a perfect Trial score, a mark that secures her a life of privilege and influence in the Republic’s military. 

June’s world revolves around duty and loyalty, with her only remaining family being her brother, Metias, a rising star in the Republic’s ranks.

But June’s idyllic life crumbles when Metias is murdered during a hospital raid. The culprit is the Republic’s most wanted criminal: Day, a legend among the poor and disenfranchised. 

A street-smart survivor, Day failed his Trial yet narrowly escaped the usual dire consequences. He lives a life on the run, stealing to keep himself and his family alive while constantly one step ahead of the Republic’s forces.

Consumed by grief and vengeance, June vows to track down Day. Her mission leads her undercover into the gritty sectors of Los Angeles, where she crosses paths with Day and his young companion, Tess. 

Unaware of Day’s true identity, June is drawn to him, their connection forged against the backdrop of poverty, desperation, and the constant fight for survival.

Plagues are rampant in the Republic’s underbelly, and Day’s youngest brother, Eden, becomes infected. Day’s attempts to obtain medicine for Eden lead to a dangerous encounter where he injures Metias. 

This, June believes, confirms everything she needs to know. However, when June stumbles upon her brother’s secret writings, a terrible truth comes to light – the Republic she upholds is a meticulously constructed lie. Metias wasn’t killed by Day, but by the Republic itself.

This realization shatters June’s perception. The Republic she believes in is built on the systematic extermination of those deemed unworthy, the use of plagues as weapons, and the manipulation of its citizens. 

Her loyalty wavers as she discovers that Day, like her, achieved a perfect Trial score, a fact meticulously hidden by the Republic.

Torn between her sense of duty and the horrifying reality, June chooses a path of rebellion. 

Risking everything, she helps Day escape his looming execution and flees Los Angeles with him. The cost of freedom is high – they are now branded as traitors, hunted by the very system they once served. 

The escape takes a toll, costing Day his older brother, John, and leaving Eden critically ill and taken hostage by the war-hungry Republic.

Despite their losses, June and Day remain determined. Fuelled by a shared need to undo the Republic’s injustices, they head east. Their journey is one of rescue and survival, a fight to reunite Day with his brother, to find Tess, and maybe, to spark a revolution that will challenge the Republic’s iron grip.

Legend by Marie Lu Summary


Day (Daniel Altan Wing)

Day is a complex and captivating protagonist. 

Born into the poverty of the Lake Sector, his life is defined by the injustice he witnesses daily. His failed Trial score condemns him to a life of hardship, yet he escapes his supposed destiny and becomes a symbol of hope for the Republic’s downtrodden. 

Day possesses incredible physical abilities and intelligence, but his greatest strength lies in his fierce loyalty and love for his family. He’s willing to risk everything to protect those he cares for, making him a formidable adversary to the Republic, but also vulnerable to manipulation. 

The harsh realities of his life create a hardened edge, but his encounters with June reveal a compassionate core he struggles to fully embrace.

June Iparis

June is Day’s mirror opposite in many ways. A product of the Republic’s privileged class, she is a rising star within its military structure. 

Her unwavering faith in the system and her determination to avenge her brother’s death drive her relentless pursuit of Day. 

June is intelligent, analytical, and incredibly capable, believing wholeheartedly in the Republic’s ideals of order and justice. However, as she uncovers the Republic’s corruption, June’s world begins to crumble. She’s forced to confront the fact that everything she knows is a lie. 

Her transformation from loyal soldier to rebellious fugitive is a painful but necessary journey that reveals inner courage and a willingness to fight for what is right, even when it contradicts everything she’s ever been taught.

Metias Iparis

Metias plays a pivotal role in June’s life and in setting the events of the novel in motion. 

As June’s older brother and protector, he is a symbol of security and a link to what she holds dear. He’s portrayed as kind and dedicated, both to his family and to the Republic he serves. 

His shocking death is the catalyst that pushes June towards vengeance, yet his hidden writings reveal a deeper truth about the Republic, sparking June’s disillusionment and ultimate rebellion.

Commander Jameson

Commander Jameson embodies the ruthlessness and authoritarianism of the Republic. A high-ranking military figure, she sees the world in black and white and believes the Republic must maintain absolute control through any means necessary. 

Jameson displays a chilling disregard for human life, particularly those within the lower social classes, seeing them as expendable. 

Her hatred for Day is visceral, fueling her determination to crush any signs of resistance he might represent.


Tess is a young girl whose survival instincts have honed her into a wary yet determined individual. She fiercely protects Day, functioning almost as his little sister. 

Her unwavering loyalty is born of his kindness towards her when they were both younger and scraping to survive in the Republic’s brutal streets. 

Though young, Tess demonstrates surprising resourcefulness and maturity shaped by the hardships she’s endured.

Eden Wing

Day’s younger brother, Eden, represents innocence amidst the novel’s harsh realities. He’s a bright and curious boy who loves to draw and idolizes his older brothers. When he contracts a mutated form of the plague, Eden becomes a symbol of the Republic’s cruelty. 

The government uses him as a test subject, highlighting their disregard for human life and their pursuit of devastating biological weapons. Eden’s illness drives Day’s desperate actions and becomes a central point of tension in the novel.

Anden Elector Primo

The Elector Primo is the enigmatic leader of the Republic. 

A shadowy figure rarely seen in person, his power is absolute. Anden presents himself as a benevolent ruler, claiming that the Republic’s harsh laws and social structure are necessary for survival. 

However, he’s ultimately revealed as a ruthless dictator, willing to sacrifice countless lives to maintain his control. 

The Elector Primo represents the pinnacle of the Republic’s corrupt system, a reminder that unchecked power always leads to abuse.


Thomas is a morally complex character who straddles the line between duty and disillusionment. As Metias’s mentor and June’s superior, he embodies the ideals of the Republic’s military. 

Thomas is loyal, disciplined, and unquestionably follows orders. However, his affection for Metias and June creates internal conflict as he witnesses the Republic’s increasingly brutal actions. 

Though he ultimately chooses loyalty, Thomas represents the countless individuals trapped within the system, recognizing its flaws yet unable to break free.


The Corrupting Influence of Power

Power, and the pursuit of it, fuels much of the conflict and darkness in “Legend”. 

The Republic, led by the Elector Primo, maintains absolute control through fear, manipulation, and violence. Those in the upper echelons of the Republic, like Commander Jameson, are driven by ambition and a belief in their own superiority. 

They exploit and sacrifice those deemed lesser, justifying their actions as necessary for the greater good. This corrupting influence twists the Republic into a dystopian nightmare, showing how unchecked power inevitably leads to oppression, regardless of original intentions.

The Illusion of Choice and Control

At its core, “Legend” explores how control creates the illusion of choice, but ultimately, that illusion is merely a tool of oppression. 

The Republic uses the Trial system to make citizens believe their destinies are in their own hands when, in reality, those in power always maintain an upper hand. Day and June, despite being exceptional individuals, find their lives constantly dictated by external forces. 

The Republic fosters a culture of fear and obedience, leaving little room for true free will or personal agency. Despite June’s initial belief in her choices, she eventually realizes that the only true choice she has is to fight against the system that seeks to control her.

The Importance of Family and Found Family

“Legend” emphasizes the power of family, both biological and chosen. Day’s unyielding devotion to his brothers motivates every daring action he makes. 

He risks everything to provide for them and protect them from the Republic’s cruelty. June’s world is initially centered around her brother, Metias, who represents stability and security. 

His loss shatters her and propels her on her quest for vengeance. Tess, an orphan taken in by Day, demonstrates the strength of found family. Her loyalty and love for Day provide a stark contrast to the cold ruthlessness of the Republic. 

The novel reminds us that family bonds, whether forged by blood or circumstance, offer strength, purpose, and a reason to fight for a better future.

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