I was pretty excited about reading the last installment of Marie Lu’s Legend series because it got so many extremely positive reviews and a lot of my fellow book lovers were raving about „Champion“ being the perfect ending of a great dystopia so that my expectations were quite high, even though the first two books „Legend“ and „Prodigy“ never captivated me as much as other dystopian series like Suzanne Collins’ „The Hunger Games“ or Dan Wells’ „Partials“ trilogy did. I liked both novels a lot but the story didn’t really have me hooked, that’s also why even though the whole trilogy was already out when I started reading „Legend“ I never felt the urge to binge-read this series and took quite some time until starting the next parts. So maybe it’s not such a big surprise that in the end I felt the same about „Champion“: I did enjoy reading it and was also mostly satisfied by how Marie Lu brought her story to an end, but I was completely missing any „WOW“ moments.
The legend and the prodigy in their final battle
Just as the first two books „Champion“ constantly switches between the POVs of the two main characters June and Day and even though I sometimes still caught myself confusing the two first-person narratives with each other in general I still think that this kind of narration was a good choice because it brought you quite close to Lu’s protagonists and it was always easy to follow their thoughts and understand their fears and motivations. Nonetheless I never felt completely connected to both characters which made it sometimes a bit difficult to empathize with them even though I generally liked them (well, mostly, because I sometimes found Day a bit annoying and selfish), I just often had the feeling that I was probably supposed to care more about them than I actually did.
Less action, more politics
Compared to „Legend“ and „Prodigy“ which both were rather action-packed I found „Champion“ to be a bit more theoretical because political aspects and discussions played quite an important role in this third book which left a little less room for high-speed and kick-ass action scenes. I didn’t really mind about that because I usually find too-long action parts often a bit tiring and I actually do enjoy debates and strategy talks – well, not in real-life politics but when it comes to books I just like reading about working out plans or weighing pros and cons of different strategies, so I found the parts taking place in Senate meetings and the like mostly rather interesting.
Where’s this certain something?
However I still sometimes felt a bit bored by the story because I was somehow waiting for this special thing that I thought would make this book/this series so popular but unfortunately I couldn’t really find it. Maybe I should have read the Legend series earlier but I always had the impression that I had read about most of the things that were dealt with in this story already in some other dystopias. I’m not saying that Lu stole her ideas from other books but I just had the feeling that this series was rather a run-of-the-mill dystopia that just didn’t manage to surprise me anymore with something original or unique. There was this virus/disease part that I for example found much more interesting in the Partials series, there was the typical love triangle which was even some kind of double love triangle (as if one wouldn’t have already been annoying enough) and when it came to the conclusion I was just waiting for something unexpected to happen – mostly in vain. To be honest I even found Marie Lu’s ending quite courageous because it actually wasn’t the typical „everybody is happy“ ending at first but then she seemed to have gotten cold feet and somehow backtracked from it with the cheesy epilogue which rather ruined the ending for me because it was just so predictable.
An entertaining, but not very unique dystopia
So overall I can’t help feeling rather disappointed by „Champion“ even though it was still a good and mostly entertaining book but it just wasn’t something special to me. Maybe my expectations were just too high or it was bad luck for Marie Lu’s series that I read it so late and after reading so many other dystopias but I can’t shake the feeling that after the first two books there was potential for much more than the final installment eventually provided. Like I was so excited when I saw the world map at the beginning of the book but the only part you ever actually got to visit or that got mentioned in greater detail was Antartica which even turned out pretty cool with the government’s video game-like rewarding system for its citizens but that’s already as far as it went with the worldbuilding. I really had to laugh when I saw the praise on the book cover after reading the book which said „Blows the socks off ‚Hunger Games‘“ because nope, it wasn’t even close to being as compelling as Suzanne Collins’ trilogy – but maybe it should have already been a warning sign that this quote came from the producer of the Twilight (!) movies.