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Jul 19, 2011

Lu's dystopian novel is a 'Legend' in the making

Though her novel Legend won't be released by Putnam until Nov. 29, the young-adult book is already taking a page out of Twilight and The Hunger Games with a film adaptation in the works. And Lu will bring Legend to San Diego's annual Comic-Con this week to reach potential readers early. In a story that reads like Les Misérables meets Blade Runner, Lu pits teenage versions of Valjean and Javert against each other in a near-future dystopian America divided into the Republic and the Colonies. There are also trials — "SATs on steroids," Lu says — that weed out the smartest teenagers and send those who don't make the grade off to an awful fate. Day is the male protagonist who steals to keep his family alive and revolts against the police state. June is the female military leader-in-training who blames him for a family member's death. Legend brings them together in conflict and for romance. Jen Besser, Lu's editor and Putnam's publisher, says there has been a glut of similar dystopian fiction in the past year, but Legend stood out. She signed Lu for a three-book Legend series within weeks of her initial submission. "It's rare to find a book that is this perfect combination of action and substance," Besser says. "There's enough suspense that you're reading it and your palms get sweaty but enough depth to it that your heart breaks a little, too." The movie deal came together mere weeks after the book was signed. Twilight producer Wyck Godfrey will produce Legend, and Jonathan Levine (50/50) will direct. (No cast yet.) "I felt like I was reading a Charles Dickens novel, but it happened to be set in the future," Godfrey says. "Day and June are supposed to hate each and yet they fall in love. Having been blessed to experience how a strong love story can help you on the Twilight series, it's always in the back of my mind when I'm reading something." Lu, who moved to the USA from Beijing when she was 5 and now lives in Pasadena, Calif., enjoys hearing from teenagers who have read advance copies of Legend. "I always get a kick out of hearing if they have a crush on Day or not," Lu says. "And I've heard from a couple of boys who have crushes on June. I'm always excited when the boys like it, too." To read complete story go to: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2011-07-18-marie-lu-legend-dystopia_n.htm