I was attracted to this novel first by the cover depicting the SF Bridge, second by the name of the author, Ellery Kane which of course reminded me a great deal of Ellery Queen. Third, the author is a forensic psychologist which was the eventual when-I-grow-up goal of one of my best friends in high school - back when I though forensics only had something to do with guns. I'm always intrigued and enlightened with people with backgrounds other than in English lit write books. This dystopian novel begins with the fragmentation of a family... then of a belief system... and finally, a nation.
Summary: Lex remembers when her father still loved her and her mother. When her mother had been a psychological researcher instead of a superstar, making biopharmaceutical news with mood-suppressing drugs which gave a anxious and fearful populace the ability to go on. When they lived happily in Tiburon, and things were normal, the internet was safe and everything was fine. Now she's eighteen, the world has unraveled, and "fine" hasn't been seen for a long, long time.
The drug Emovere, her mother's brilliant invention, turned out to be a chemical evil unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Thought to be useful to the government as a way to prevent wartime post-trauma stress, it was instead embellished upon and given to Guardian Force soldiers - the elite government-appointed military police force - to block all of their emotions and to turn them into emotionally deadened machines. After speaking out forcefully and repeatedly, Lex's mother resigned from the biopharmaceutical company and cut ties with the government, and now spends her time at home being harassed by men in unmarked black cars. The government believes her a disloyal defector -- but they have their hands full with riots, mobs, drug addicts, and a rapidly devolving society. San Francisco has been evacuated by Guardians - but Lex has to get to them with hew information for the Resistance. It's her mother's plan - her face is simply too well known to sneak into the city, and if she goes missing from the house, the men in the black cars will have questions... Lex is the only one who can do this, and the only way to contact the Resistance is to go into the bombed out, silent, evacuated city.
Or, so Lex's mother says.
They'll come to her, Lex is assured, if she just waits in the place they select. The Resistance knows she's on her way. But, it's not as easy to find the resistance as Lex had hoped - and once she does, she's not sure she trusts them. The big, military-looking boy, Quin McAllister, who leads her to the underground has a Guardian tattoo on his arm - so, how is he safe? Why does the leader, Augustus, give her the creeps, with his wide, genial smiles and his lifeless eyes? And when can she go home?
Truths within lies and more lies are revealed as Lex joins the Resistance. There has to be a way to fight - and retrieve the world they know from the hands of General Ryker, the sadistic head of the Guardians. But Lex keeps finding out more about the people she's working with - and more secrets about the boy she's come to love. In the end, your history matters more than you might think - your legacy, and what you leave behind. And, what you don't know - and what your mother has kept a secret out of what she thought was love - can still hurt.
Peaks: This is a fast-paced, fairly typical dystopian novel with some interesting twists. Fans of books like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, the CHEMICAL GARDEN series or other novels wherein the populace is keep complacent or breeding or whatever with drugs or fans of novels like PARTIALS which have super-soldiers will find something to like. Lex's relationship with her mother - and with other dynamic leaders - is at the core of this novel, and made me think of how I react to people in leadership. I think that's always a good topic to delve into for young adults. Layered on top of that are her issues with love and trust which thread through the novel - and her ability to see personalities and reactions and behaviors are a direct result of having a mother who is an extrovert and who explains her work to her. This makes her a good protagonist and the reader feels like they understand what's going on. This also makes the action feel very close and the suspense very suspenseful.
There is an ensemble of friends who become important to Lex, in contrast to her somewhat isolated life before this crisis. The Resistance allows the novel an authentic-feeling diversity, and for once supplies a dystopian novel with someone other than just teens to save the world. Of course, this being a YA novel, the teens play a large role.
Valleys:It's never clear what happens to the world initially - and how it all comes so far apart. Why is the government recruiting so hard for the Guardians? Is there an outside threat? A lot of the antecedents for this crisis are murky.
There is a romance in this novel - one that is both a little speedy and intrusive for me, in light of the danger that they're in. It also is a little questionable. Love is put forth as a panacea to soothe the savage beast, and Lex is in a relationship with former soldier, Quin, who after his drugging has trouble controlling his emotional reactions. When his jealousy spikes and he's punching walls, it's clear he's dangerous - but it seems the answer to that is that "love conquers all." After Lex withdraws from him, Quin decides he's going to be a better person, and works to understand himself, reading psychology books and whatnot... and while this is indeed the baseline of what it takes to make personal changes - actually becoming informed and making an effort - it all seems to happen pretty quickly for me. This is unfortunate, especially since this appears to be a series - I feel it would have been okay to let the situation just sit for a bit - and let readers see and understand the time this sort of thing takes, and let Quin and Lex be just friends a bit longer.
Conclusion: A cleanly-written beginning to an action-packed Bay Area dystopian adventure - though San Francisco seems to be the city most often destroyed in dystopia, at least in this book, it's only the Bay Bridge that's been bombed flat. Sequels forthcoming - maybe they'll rebuild.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley. You can find LEGACY by Ellery Kane at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!