Following The Hunger Games is a tall order, but many authors are jumping onto the dystopic bandwagon these days with some spectacular results. As this is the first book in a planned trilogy (with movie rights!) and #3 on the 2012 YALSA Teens' Top Ten list, Legend by Marie Lu is a must-read that both guys and girls will enjoy.
Author Lu takes us to a future where the U.S. has been torn apart. A western portion of the country, the Republic, has broken away and battles for independence from the Colonies. The Republic is essentially a dictatorship, with sharp distinctions between the haves and have-nots and frequent outbreaks of the plague. Meanwhile, all teens in the Republic must endure a Trial. If they pass, they are trained to enter the military and support the war effort. If they fail, they enter "labor camps," which turn out to be something even more horrible.
Two teens tell this story—Day, a contemporary Robin Hood trying to save his family, and June, a wealthy prodigy. Their lives intersect when Day is accused of murdering June's brother. But when June sets out to even the score, she learns that the Republic is hiding many secrets and for the first time becomes aware of the horrors the rest of her society is suffering. The two lead characters make the story appealing to guys and girls, and the characters themselves are very well written. Legend is an action-packed novel with a hint of romance and plenty of mystery—a terrific beginning to an intriguing new series!