Gemma Malley

The Legacy, book 3

Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1-4088-0088-1

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Legacy is the third book in a young adult trilogy, following on from The Declaration and The Resistance. The first two novels were strong, establishing interesting characters and a believable world. The Legacy is an equally strong conclusion to the series.

The world of the series is one in which the drug Longevity has assured eternal life for almost all. There is a heavy price to pay, however; to stabilise population, you can only receive the drug if you sign a Declaration that you will never have children. Most people sign this at 16, too young to fully understand what they’re giving up – which means some people then go on to have illegal children. Others choose to Opt Out – they don’t take Longevity and are entitled to have a child. A very lucky few are so important – generally as a result of their career or political influence – that they are entitled to have one child despite receiving Longevity.

In this world then, children are rare. And they’re rarely treasured as you might expect. Illegal children are taken by force when found, incarcerated in Dickensian orphanages, and taught that they have committed a crime simply by being born. Even legal children don’t have it easy – they must constantly have their papers, or risk being whisked away; they have few playmates, and their parents are often shunned as rather odd.

But a Resistance has emerged, people who believe that the circle of life is important and must be renewed. As this novel opens, it seems that perhaps nature agrees with them; Longevity has stopped working – a virus has arisen that it cannot protect against. Corporate giant Pincent Pharma, run by the unethical Richard Pincent, accuses the Underground of sabotaging Longevity, and their support quickly evaporates as fearful people face death again. However, not everyone in the Resistance gives up.

As with the earlier novels, we see much of this story through the eyes of Anna and Peter, two young people who are vital to the Resistance. Although Legal now, both have known the horrors of being Illegal; and given Peter’s family links to Pincent Pharma, the authorities would rather like to get their hands on them, and not to be kind to them. Anna and Peter are divided; they need to save the family they have created, but Peter in particular also feels a responsibility to save the world.

The Legacy is a strong novel, and completes a strong trilogy. Although a young adult novel, it’s likely to be enjoyed by many older readers. I found the ending a little predictable; however, prior to the last half a dozen pages this was a really engaging novel. The plot was strong and exciting, and the action very well written. The characters were people that you could care about and empathise with, and they take the reader with them on their journey. Most readers will find themselves immersed in this novel; it’s easy to get lost in it for extended periods.

There are some challenging concepts in here, but nothing that’s over the head of the intended audience. Malley doesn’t talk down to her readers, and she assumes that young people can cope with some pretty tough ideas and imagery. Parts of the novel are emotionally moving, and a good deal of it will be thought provoking, particularly to readers coming across some of these concepts for the first time.

Essentially, this is a really well written novel that should appeal to a wide audience. The writing style is highly engaging, the characters are well developed, and the plot will keep readers engrossed. Although likely to be of particular interest to young readers, older readers will also enjoy it, due largely to the strong characters and the emotional impact of some scenes involving children.

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