by Marie Lu
To be published by Putnam Juvenile
on November 5, 2013
Connect with the author: website | Twitter.
Summary from Goodreads: He is a Legend. She is a Prodigy. Who will be Champion? 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. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. 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 he has.My take: This review will avoid any and all major spoilers for all three books. I'm a big fan of this trilogy and was excited -- and apprehensive -- to pick this up. I am so happy to report that I loved it. In the last few weeks, I've spent some time thinking about dystopian trilogies and their possible pitfalls. For me as a reader, these include:
1) Balancing a grim dystopian setting with romance
2) Maintaining tension after the main characters escape to freedom. This often happens in book two of trilogies and can be a major issue for me. I love the tension that results when the main characters are trapped in a repressive environment. In second books, they often break out and are wandering around with no one to rebel against and … I'm bored.
3) Balancing readers' desire for a long-suffering couple to have some happiness while staying true to a grim dystopian outlook
For me, this trilogy neatly sidestepped all those problems. I loved Champion -- it was probably my favorite of the three books. The story begins eight months after the ending of Prodigy. As the book blurb indicates, June and Day have been separated all this time. If you've read Prodigy, you may remember that Day is also keeping a big secret from June, something that was revealed at the very end of that book. But as Champion opens, June needs Day's help, and summons him. The two are nervous about seeing each other again and things are off to a great start.
I love this couple. She's so smart and self-sufficient and a little aloof. He's daring and bighearted and idealistic. They are clearly crazy about each other, but life has conspired to keep them apart. I also loved that they were nearly a year older in this book. Each has been through some tough times in which they have lost loved ones, and as a result, they are hesitant to express their feelings for one other.
I also really enjoyed the political intrigue in the story. Champion moves away from the Patriot guerrilla warfare stuff that was featured in Prodigy and more into higher-level diplomatic wrangling. Relations between the Colonies and the Republic have become dangerously strained. As June and Anden desperately figure out how to avoid war, Day arrives with some interesting ideas and the potential to help them.
Champion took every opportunity to tug at my emotions, bringing back old villains, revisiting old losses, really honing in on each character's strengths and vulnerabilities. I loved the fact that Champion let many major characters have chances to shine -- to be brave, to be noble, to be selfless, to take risks.
Champion gave me everything I hoped for: suspense, action, retribution and forgiveness, both romantic and platonic love, some political wrangling, and…an ending I was happy with. Note that I did not say "a happy ending." It can be hard to end a dystopian trilogy. If the ending is all kittens and butterflies, that rings false. On the other hand, when readers have invested years of waiting and hours of reading time into a trilogy, I think they hope for an ending that is both true to the story and emotionally satisfying.
I thought the end of Champion was successful on both fronts. I won't say that aspects of it didn't make me very, very nervous, including the fact that one of my least favorite plot devices was involved