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We Readers Are the Champions, My Friends

Could it be? A dystopian series with a satisfying ending?! Mandy W. sure thinks Champion by Marie Lu (Legend Book 3) fits the bill.

We Readers Are the Champions, My Friends

ORAL PRESENTATION for Champion (Legend Book 3) by Marie Lu, narrated by Mariel Stern and Steven Kaplan

Cover Story: Kiss from a Rose
BFF Charm: Platinum x 2
Swoonworthy Scale: I'm Ron Burgundy?
Talky Talk: Action-Packed He Said, She Said
Talk Wordy to Me: Auditory A-Team
Bonus Factors: A Whole New World, Future Tech, Charles Wallace
Relationship Status: Surprise Elopement

MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven't read the earlier books in this series -- Legend (Book 1) and Prodigy (Book 2) -- you best check yourself before you wreck those books for yourself.

Cover Story: Kiss from a Rose

Does the Legend trilogy have some of the best YA covers or what?! Not only does it look great, but the little touches are PERF: the orange flame-like swirl, the blood-like splatter, and the significance to the story. Plus, these series covers, which started crisp and clean, have gotten progressively messier and more rebellious. WELL PLAYED, PUTNAM.

There's another version of the cover floating around out there, with one major difference:

I prefer the subtle cover to the one with the bullet hole -- partly because of the violence aspect, but mostly due to it drawing focus away from the rose. Stop being an attention hog, bullet hole!

The Deal:

With Day throwing his support behind Anden, the new Elector Primo, and June not, like, killing the guy and all, the Republic is in the process of healing and rebuilding. But the peace that's been achieved is already being threatened by a plague outbreak in the Colonies -- and the Republic is at the centre of the controversy. With thousands of lives at stake, Day and June may be able to rescue the Republic from the brink of war. But just how much more are our heroes willing to sacrifice for their country?

BFF Charm: Platinum x 2

June and Day already had my BFF charms, but WHOA was I caught off-guard by how much I've emotionally invested in these two. And they both def. could have used a BFF, since omg they've been so cruelly (to me, but also to them) separated from each other for the past eight months. In that time, June has become one of Anden's advisors as a Princeps Elect, and Day's HOLY EFFING SHIZZ brain tumour has worsened. One's under political pressure, and the other, cerebral. I don't know how much my bestie contribution would help -- since these two badasses do fine without it -- but it certainly couldn't hurt.

Swoonworthy Scale: I'm Ron Burgundy?

Tess and Anden are still active vertices in the love quadrilateral, but I am forever a Day and June shipper. I can't even talk about the swoon trajectory without getting too spoiler-y, but MY GAWD, how all the romantic relationships -- mostly June and Day, although I'm thinking of another pairing in particular -- tugged my heart in every which way. 

Talky Talk: Action-Packed He Said, She Said

Marie Lu continues to build and strengthen her protagonists, with the narration alternating between June and Day. And she manages to fit in SO much plot, without it feeling like too much, y'know? I love the approach she's taken with her series, too; trying to fix the Big, Bad System from within, as opposed to having it overthrown, is incredibly refreshing. This is clearly no cookie-cutter series.

Lu also completes the rare dystopian three-peat -- that is, a trilogy that actually gets better with each book. And while I've seen this kind of ending done before (examples unavailable, since SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS, obvs), it's not always done well. I don't usually cry at books, but this one made my cold, dark heart shed a few tears. 

Talk Wordy to Me: Auditory A-Team

I actually first experienced Legend as an audiobook, so it's fitting that I finished the series in the same fashion. Narrators Mariel Stern and Steven Kaplan did wonderful jobs of bringing June and Day to life. Their versions are calmer and more soothing than I'd instinctively attribute to June and Day, but non-stop intensity does not a good audiobook make. In retrospect, I like the characterization that our heroes are mature and not easily rattled, because that's so them.

Stern and Kaplan's voices for the different characters are distinct, with none of them being (unintentionally) annoying. There is one slight hiccup in a June chapter, when a character with a fictional accent speaks; fortunately, this only lasts for one line. 

I also found the pacing of the audiobook format to be perfect. There's so much story to absorb, and I was grateful for not being able to devour the whole thing all at once. Reading Champion as an audiobook gave me much-needed time to react and regroup for each OMG development, even if it meant getting heart palpitations from not knowing exactly when it'd end. (Me, as I got closer to the end without checking the amount of time remaining: "ACK it can't stop right here, can it!? The story can't be over yet, noooooo!")

Bonus Factor: A Whole New World

Have y'all noticed how a lot of dystopian novels series* are fairly localized? I mean, the rest of the world doesn't do anything about the oppressive regime in Panem at all? What's happening around the globe in the Divergent world? Champion gives a glimpse into how the international community reacts to the power struggle between the Republic and the Colonies -- and how some of the other countries have evolved, too.**

*SO MANY SERIES

**Although I would have liked to know if all of the continents have become consolidated entities. Does that mean peace in the Middle East!? And what's happening in Canada, you guys? What about the True North strong and free!?

Bonus Factor: Future Tech

One of these countries has tons of cool gadgets, including technology that makes a meritocracy-based society seem like a video game. Think more like The Sims and way, way less like Grand Theft Auto.

Bonus Factor: Charles Wallace

Day is reunited with his beloved little brother, Eden, at last. Poor Eden is recovering from his captivity by the Republic, which, thankfully, didn't rob him of his sweetness. And June may be the Prodigy of the series, but Eden has more than his share of smarts. Eden is the best, is what I'm saying. I'd like to give him a million cuddly hugs and protect him foreverrrrrr.

Casting Call:

I'll stick with Jenny's casting from the first book, with a few additions of my own.

Robert Sheehan as Anden

Curly hair and green eyes? I literally thought of no one else.

Jakob Davies as Eden

Jakob may not share the Mongolian-Russian heritage of the Wing kids, but judging from the If I Stay behind-the-scene coverage, don't you totally want to knit him sweaters and bake him cookies? Because that's how I feel about Eden.

I wanted to cast Tess as well, but no one I came across seemed quite right. And, really -- there's only so much internet creeping on young actresses that I can handle. So I'm open to suggestions!

Relationship Status: Surprise Elopement

As I got to know this series, my love for it grew deeper and deeper. Our bond only intensified this time around, with no signs of slowing down. I didn't intend on settling down with this series -- but you never can quite plan love, can you? The series may be over, but it'll live on forever in my heart.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from my local library. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). Champion is available now.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.