Excerpt: Ship Breaker vs. Legend by Solo

In both Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and Legend by Marie Lu, one major theme is the world that our parents are leaving us is not one anyone should have to live in.

Both texts take place in a world where global warming and destruction of land have significantly affected the day to day routine. In Legend large chunks of America are missing, submerged under floods. The floods are a result of the ice caps melting, something that is most likely going to happen in the near future for the real world. In Ship Breaker hurricanes bombard every shore of the world, caused by an increase in ocean temperature. New Orleans specifically has been destroyed and rebuilt more than 3 times after being destroyed by hurricanes. The gulf islands would usually protect New Orleans, but they were destroyed by companies drilling for oil. Both these examples show what could happen to our world if we keep treating it the way we are right now. Another thing that both the dystopian novels share is the significant poor population. The

impoverished people that we meet in Legend live in a place called the Lake district. We also hear of large impoverished populations in many other districts, but there are only several wealthy districts. The large majority of people in the world are impoverished in today’s world, but Marie Lu makes it seem like the ratio in Legend is far more one sided. To add on to that, the government in Legend manufactures plagues, and tests them on the poor people, rapidly killing thousands. In Ship Breaker we meet there is one main population of poor people we hear about. The majority of people there work scavenging ships for any precious metal and barely scrape by, usually going without meals several days. Companies buy the metal and transport it different places for money, which is very profitable, while the people in the ship breaking yards get fraction of fraction of what the companies earn. At one point, Nailer finds a wealthy girl in a crashed ship who is still alive. One of her earrings alone would cost years of work in the ship breaking yards. This shows how willingly the wealthy people throw around their money, while the poor are barely surviving.

But something both texts do differently is the relationship between the rich and the poor. In Legend the rich and the poor share borders living in close proximity. The wealthy people are educated about the poor and know they exist, and are extremely impoverished and often barely surviving every day. But they still do nothing. The rich people often completely ignore the poor, not helping them, and often hurting them, not caring about their lifestyle. In Ship Breaker the relationship is the opposite. The wealthy are completely uneducated about the blood work that goes on in the ship breaking yards. The most wealthy person in Bright Sands Beach, the place where Nailer lives, is someone who was part of the yards until they found and extremely valuable pocket of oil, and snuck it out for himself and sold it. Besides that, no one even remotely wealthy knows about what goes on, or lives nearby. Nita, the wealthy girl Nailer finds, shows complete ignorance to what goes on. She is the daughter to the man who owns one of the companies that buys the scrap for recycling, and think that the company is completely clean, even though they are theoretically buying blood. Both living in range of a large impoverished population and not doing anything, and living in complete ignorance are detrimental and negatively impact society.

In their dystopian texts, both Paolo Bacigalupi and Marie Lu do a phenomenal job highlighting what our world can become. It’s important to remember that the health of the earth is fast approaching a steep decline, and doing whatever you can do stop that is beneficial and needed.

Excerpt: Legend — Author’s Craft Essay by Natasha Epstein

Crime and forbidden love. The perfect “chick flick” plot. The book Legend, however, is something more. Legend, by Marie Lu, tells the story of a renegade boy named Day, his young street-crime partner Tess, and a Republic (government) spy-in-training named June. When Day is framed in the murder of June’s brother Mathias, June attempts to find Day only to fall in love with him while capturing him. In Legend, Lu uses symbolism, revealing actions, and flashbacks to represent Day’s feelings.

A couple of examples of symbolism in Legend are the character Tess, and Day’s pendant. Tess is a symbol for Day’s want for his family (most of whom thinks he are dead), and his subconscious want for safety. Day treats Tess like a younger sibling, much like he would have treated his younger brother if he (Day) still lived with his family. Day’s pendant, an old quarter coin sealed in a metal casing, is a symbol for trust. It is a symbol for trust because Dad’s father, the person who gave Day his pendant, trusted Day enough to give him a valuable object that the government would probably confiscate if they got their hands on it.

Two examples of revealing actions are when Day is experimented on by the government, and when Day’s brother sacrifices himself for Day. Day is experimented on by the government because he got a perfect score on his Trial, a test of physical and mental well-being all ten-year-olds receive. The government does not tell Day he got a perfect score, and instead claims he completely failed, and they have to take him to a “labor camp”.Of course, the government’s assertion that they’re taking Day to a labor camp is a lie, as they simply experiment on him to try and see what makes him so physically and mentally well-off. Day escapes their experimenting, and takes to the streets. I believe this ordeal, from the experiments to the discovery that the government lies represent Day’s fear, as the experiences scarred him physically, as well as taking away his ten-year-old innocence and replacing it with the truth of a corrupt government. When Day’s brother, John, sacrifices himself for Day, the action represents love. The action occurred when Day, June, and John were trying to escape a government building before Day was supposed to be executed. John, seeing that they did not have enough time and needed a distraction to escape, dresses as Day and is executed in Day’s place. This action represents love because it shows John really is, or was, “willing to die” for Day.
Finally, some flashbacks Day experiences are one of a mean Republic officer and one of his first crime. In the first flashback, Day remembers accidentally hitting an officer with a small paper ball he was playing with, and talking back to the officer afterward. This results in the officer taking the family’s dinner – a whole chicken, a treat for their poor family. This flashback shows Day’s anger, as Day did next to nothing wrong and yet their hard-earned meal was taken. Later, a flashback of Day’s first crime, throwing an ice ball dipped in gasoline through a window shows Day’s pride, as criminal activity was a way for him to get back at the government without losing anything personally.

Lu’s novel Legend thus uses symbolism, revealing actions, and flashbacks to show Day’s emotions. Even though the most people would think a novel with a combination of love and crime melodramatic, Legend is not. Readers are drawn into the story from the beginning through the use of intricate character personalities and subtle foreshadowing. I believe the novel was enhanced by the use of these different techniques and that they also resulted in providing the reader a different, deeper story.

Excerpt: Legend Analysis by Geary Keller

In conclusion, the theme of this book is that anti-authoritarian thinking is generally unaccepted by the Republic. This is shown through Day’s Trial scores and overall life, since he is snubbed by the Republic for his brilliant mind. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the theme is also shown through June and her actions in the first part of the book. She is extremely privileged in all aspects of her life, such as her wealth, status, and education. She is also endlessly loyal to the Republic, until she meets Day and she is swept into a whirlwind of doubt in her country. Finally, the Republic model of perfection, Thomas. He is a close companion of June’s, until he breaks her trust by carrying out orders to murder an innocent woman. Overall, this book’s theme ruined and blessed many people’s lives. This goes to show that while revolutionary thinking may be accepted in some societies, it is not always embraced in this one.