Exclusive YALL Fest Interview with Marie Lu

Our very own Ellie attended YALL Fest last week and was lucky enough to discuss CHAMPION with Marie Lu!

Why did Marie choose build her world the way she did? What inspired the ending? What happened to the characters we all know and love after the epilogue? We asked it all!

Please note that the majority of the questions contain SPOILERS. The spoiler-free questions are above the cut and the spoilers are hiding under the cut. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

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Now that your final book in the trilogy is out, how do you feel about it being out there and being finished with it?

Marie Lu:
It feels really weird! I always compare it to how parents must feel when they send their kids off to college because on one end you’re really relieved, like “Oh thank God, they got out of the house and they’re off to do their own thing!” And at the same time, you’re sad because they’re out of the house and now it’s like an empty nest. I feel a little bit like that. I feel like my characters are not mine anymore and they’ve gone off to live in the real world. Wherever that is! (laughs) Wherever characters go off after stories end. And I feel like they’re not with me anymore and they’re off somewhere. They kind of belong to the public now. It’s kind of a weird, wistful feeling.

What have you learned about the whole writing process throughout the series and would you change anything if you could start over?

ML:
I’ve learned that writing changes over time, especially for someone like me who’s a pants-er. And I realize that characters change too. When I first started writing June, i didn’t identify with her at all so I had a lot of trouble getting into her head. She’s smarter than me and it’s really hard to write a character that’s smarter than yourself, so I would have to stop constantly to do research about her chapters. Towards the end of it, I kind of realized that I had been writing about myself all along. Not that I have her genius analytical side or intelligence, but that she kind of reacts to situations the same way that I do. We deal with grief and stress and panic the same way. I began putting bits and pieces of that into her and I didn’t realize until the last book when I really started to connect. At the end of it, I think June is my favorite person out of everybody because I really understood and sympathized with her. So it was like evolution for me too.

What it one thing you want readers to take away from this series?

ML: I’d like them to take away that even if you live in a very dark place, you have the potential to change that and that you can come out of it and be okay. I think that was something I really wanted Day to experience because he, more than anybody, came from a place of such hopelessness and he was so poor, but he managed to come out of that. I get a lot of reader emails from people who struggle with real life issues and I want them to know that you can make it out of anything like that.
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Marie Lu Would Love to See Ben Barnes in a ‘LEGEND’ Movie

I had met Marie Lu at Comic-Con in 2012, and at the time I had not read her books.  Now that I am officially a Day fan, I can say that I’m glad to have met her.  She writes what might be considered a simple story, but it’s packed with emotion and unique characters that I’d love to see and read more of.

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Ben Barnes

“I know you can’t find someone that’s exactly the way that I picture them in my head. I think they’ll do a pretty good job casting them in general. There’s only one character that I wrote with an actor in my head, and that was Metias, June’s brother. I always pictured Ben Barnes. I just love Ben Barnes. I’m going to cast him in anything that I write. I’ll squeeze him in there.”

And then there’s the fact that Day, one of the main protagonists, is without a doubt part Mongolian, not something really common in Hollywood’s collection of usual suspects.

“My fingers are crossed that they will at least keep the casting open to the ethnicities that are mentioned in the book. That would be ideal. I know you can’t always find a half-Asian, half-Caucasian actor who is perfect for the role … who has blue eyes and blond hair.”

It’s certainly something all of us would like to keep our fingers crossed about.  Sure, it’s not like his ethnicity plays a part in the story, but there are other cultures that can experience dramatic tension and tragedy as well.  And it would just be callous to not take into consideration the character Marie described and have people see him as a lead.

Not only that, but Marie put her heart into this thing and we need to show some respect for it, and cry into our pillows.

“I cried into my pillow a lot at night.”

See, just like she said.

via VH1 Celebrity.

REVIEW: Prodigy (ARC Novel) by Marie Lu

prodigyProdigy by Marie Lu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, this review is based off an ARC, or Advance Uncorrected Galleys, of the book, so please know that there could be possible changes in the final printed book that might change the review of this at a later date.

With that said, this will be a *spoiler free* review, thus no details will be mentioned. However, this is the second book of the Legend trilogy, so if you haven’t read the first book (Legend), then you might want to read that first before you go further.

At the end of Legend, we see that Day and June have escaped from the Republic, Batalla Hall, and Day’s execution – though not without leaving a mess of a trail behind them. An emotional mess of a trail, really.

Prodigy obviously has a lot to deal with in the wake of all that’s happened in the first book. There’s Day having to deal with the loss of his mother and brother while also trying to figure out what’s happened to Eden. And there’s June having to deal with not only the loss of her brother, with whom she’s had to deal with the majority of the time in the first book, but also the whole idea of her faith in the Republic as well.

They both have the challenge of dealing with this new “relationship” they have with each other.

The book pretty much starts up where it left off in Legend. There’s a lot of questions to be answered, like what happened to Eden, will Thomas get his due for killing Metias, are the Patriots going to help, will Day and June find happiness in the Colonies, where’s Tess, and what’s up with the plagues?

I was pleased to see that some of these questions were answered, but then the problem was that more questions popped up in its place.

I also had to try to remind myself that Day and June are still teens and that emotional turmoil (hormones) is still so much a strong influence in their lives, regardless of how smart or physically awesome they are. And emotions certainly take a toll on both of them. It was so much a part of their thoughts I almost wanted to slap them a bit and tell them to snap out of it. But then I would have to slap myself my 15-year-old self, too, and probably much harder.

As usually what comes with a second book, the beginning is a bit slow-paced, because there’s so much to be set up before the second half of the book sets in motion (and probably for the third book as well). So yeah, there’s good amount of talk in the beginning, but not that it’s unimportant – it’s just that with strategy talk, there’s also time for angst.

It’s interesting where the story takes you, and I kept telling the book, “No, that’s not a good idea!” or “Oh, no, this is going to screw things up!” or “Why did you say that!?” Yeah, I was freaking out just a bit.

Needless to say, the characters go through a lot of self-doubt and confusion and even desire.

In the first book, I wasn’t sure if I liked June. In this book, I found that I liked her a little more. She reminds me, in a certain way, of Sherlock Holmes in that she’s calculating, deducing, and just plain smart. However, she’s not that smart and sometimes doesn’t act upon her gut instinct or doesn’t think it through all the way until it’s almost too late.

She’s also mentally strong, a smart fighter, and even though she can get hurt by words, she tries not to let it show, pushing forth her tough exterior to the front.

Being that she was raised to believe wholeheartedly in everything that the Republic was doing was right, she’s having to struggle constantly with what she does believe in and if there’s any way she can accept a different life than the one she was born into.

As for Day, being that he was raised in a totally different way of life, his distrust in pretty much everything comes into play a lot and we see him struggle with his own self-worth and the extent of which he’s willing to go to be with those he loves, whether by blind faith or extreme emotion.

Not only that, there’s something about Day that doesn’t really come into play in this book as much as it will definitely come into play in the final book (there’s hints of it throughout the book), and I will say this much… prepare your heart for major “feels”.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the book is good. There’s elements that may seem familiar to you, that were used in other stories, but the characters stand on their own, and Marie has created an exciting dystopian steampunk future.

Remember to walk in the light.

Check out my other reviews