Review of “Champion” by Marie Lu

Note: There are necessarily spoilers for the first two books of this trilogy, but none for this book except a section protected by white font.

Champion, which is the final book of the Legend Trilogy, begins eight months after the end of the previous book, Prodigy. It takes place in a future in which America has been divided into The Republic – centered in the West, and the Colonies, in the East. The Republic is in effect a dictatorship, and the Colonies are controlled by four ruling corporations. Neither citizenry is actually free.

champion.indd

Daniel Wing, known as Day, is now 17 and working in San Francisco in support of the new Republic Elector, Anden. June Iparis was in a relationship with Day, but when offered the position of one of three Senate leaders-in-training in Denver, Day insisted she take it. He didn’t tell her that he was dying from an implant in his brain.

Now eight months have passed, and June and Day have not communicated. But Anden asks June to contact Day and convince him to come to the capital in Denver. He wants to persuade Day to let the Republic use Day’s only remaining brother Eden to try to find a cure for the plague. This deathly virus, originally released by the Republic, is now spreading again in the Colonies, and they have accused the Republic of waging biological warfare on them. If the Republic doesn’t come up with a cure, the Colonies will attack. Day’s brother Eden, 11, was experimented on by the Republic and it is believed his blood holds the key to a cure. But Day, protective of Eden (who is already virtually blind from the experimentation), will not let him be subjected to more medical manipulation.

In the meanwhile, Anden and June travel to the very advanced country of Antarctica in search of military support. (Here the author comes up with a very interesting and clever scenario of how a country could be run to maximize achievement from its people.) Antarctica won’t be an easy sell: it not only wants land in exchange, but also wants the virus cure.

Time is running out, and so are options, and Day gets ever closer to dying.

Discussion: This discussion will be very spoilery. Mouse over it to read it, but skip to the section marked Evaluation if you don’t want to hear me complain about some of the characterization and most of all, about the ending.

In terms of the characters, Lu identifies June as the hero, and even Day says to her: “You’re the scariest, most clever, bravest person I know, and sometimes I can’t catch my breath because I’m trying so hard to keep up. There will never be another like you. You realise that, don’t you?”

But in reality, it is Day who is incomparable: he has more heart than anyone; loves completely and unconditionally; and will make any sacrifice for those he loves. Futher, he is far and away the most unambiguously moral of the bunch. June is more wishy-washy in every regard. And Anden is definitely in a grey area, edging toward black. Yet June makes him her boyfriend and even moves in with him. I’m not saying that this shallowness of June was inconsistent, but I’m not sure the author saw June in that way.

Regarding the ending, it was not only disappointing to me, but didn’t even make sense. Why would Day still wear the ring June made him out of paper-clips if he can’t remember who she is or what she meant to him? Why doesn’t his brother Eden tells him about June or about his ring? Wouldn’t Day have asked Eden? What about his friend Tess? And as for Tess, throughout the series, and reaffirmed in the last book, Day and Tess consider each other family and don’t want to lose each other. So why would Day and Tess, closer even than family, just lose touch with one another? It also didn’t add up for me that June, who has based her life on logic and rationality, would believe that a prayer she made when she thought Day was dying would actually determine whether or not she should contact him.

End of spoilers.

Evaluation: I thought Lu did a terrific job with the first two books, but I was a bit disappointed with this third (Nevertheless, I do think it’s better than many trilogy third books). The ending has some inconsistencies that didn’t make sense to me and well – it wasn’t the ending I wanted. On the other hand, it’s very hard to end a trilogy in a way that will satisfy everyone AND seem realistic. It’s a post-apocalyptic dystopia, after all…..

The series is very good, however, all in all. Lu creates memorable characters, and she excels at raising issues that point to the complexity and unsatisfactory nature of tough moral choices, without actually deciding them for readers.

Rating: 3.75/5

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2013

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5 Responses

  1. Sometimes I think that this trend of trilogies has allowed authors to dig themselves into a hole and self-destruct. I understand WHY they write the trilogies but I’m not sure it serves the ultimate purpose. So often the second book is meh, and more times than not people are disappointed with end after all the build up. That said, I’ve heard more positive about this series than most. So there might be a chance I’d read it. Maybe.

  2. You are on the cutting edge when it comes to YA dystopia and I admire you for that.

  3. I don’t know why authors have such a hard time with the final books of their trilogies — perhaps two books instead of three? four books instead of three?

  4. This is another trilogy I’ve been meaning to read but never got around to it. Glad you like it overall. I’ll have to make time for it in 2014.

  5. I enjoyed the first one (this and Divergent were the two I like better than some others after Hunger Games). Though for whatever reason, I just never felt like picking up book 2, and I didn’t even know book 3 is already out!

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