Saturday, 8 March 2014

Review || Champion by Marie Lu

Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu ★★★☆☆
June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

I. Huh. I really wanted to like this series a lot more than I did.

Now, don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the series as a whole, but it always left me wanting. It never quite delivered, never quite grabbed me. I suppose the combination of the hype and the "inspired by Les Mis" stuff probably set my expectations too high.

As I read, I realized that I could never actually predict the actions of the characters. Despite the fact that we're in both June and Day's heads. Things would happen and part of me would wonder if that was an in character or out of character reaction... only to find I couldn't quite decide. I think the fatal flaw here was despite the dual narratives, they never really felt totally distinct, and Lu relied more on telling rather than showing.

The world building overall fell flat for me. I just never got the sense of scale that I should with a full realized and complex world. This one felt more like just the scratching of the surface--a shallow approximation of a real vibrant world. Now, I know that some of this is probably intentional. After all, the Republic has kept to itself intentionally for propaganda reasons. Which makes sense. But after a glimpse of the Colonies in Prodigy, a trip to Antarctica in this book and references to Africa... it still all felt shallow and incomplete.

Don't get me wrong, the Antarctica thing was super interesting. And I really loved the idea. And the Colonies stance on things continues to be terrifyingly familiar. But these tidbits felt more like throwaway moments to add to the illusion of depth to the world, rather than actually conveying that depth.

(I think about The Lunar Chronicles in contrast. Where there is this sheer sense of scale to the world. It's built and developed and deep and complex. And all that was lacking here.)

Everything also just felt too convenient. The book zooms along at a great pace, but for every new obstacle, the solution seems to come just in time. Yes, there's a sense of urgency and you can understand the desperation of some of the characters--but the stakes never felt high. Despite the fact that they were obviously meant to be. Something about the tone of the book failed to convince me that this was going to turn out as anything other than okay.

Still. I did shed a few tears. There are a few things that always get me, regardless, and I always count crying over a book as a positive thing. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to let me get past the other shortcomings. Champion never really surprised me; and I am always harsher on twists I've guessed in advance when I'm not really loving the book to begin with.

I have conflicted feelings about the epilogue as well. Again, the whole "too convenient" argument bubbles up. I don't know. It had it's positives and negatives.

Overall, a series I liked but never loved. A series I'm glad I read, but not one I'd go out of my way to purchase. Entertaining, but at the end of it, disappointing.