I just do not understand why people like this series. With every additional word I read, I find myself hating it more and more. And here’s the thing, I’m convinced at this point that the author has no idea how to write a likable character. Legendary by Stephanie Garber was just awful. So awful, in fact, that I wish I could rate it lower than I already have. And here’s the thing; if Garber’s goal was to have her readers leave the story hating her main characters, then I could probably respect it at least a little bit. But I think it’s very clear that we’re supposed to adore Donatella Dragna and feel some sort of strange love/hate for her two love interests. And I just cannot deal with the ridiculousness of it all. I don’t feel anything for these characters. I have no desire to see them succeed nor do I care if they fail. It could not matter less to me what happens to them. And that, my friends, is the biggest problem that Legendary has.
Following the events of Caraval, Tella hooks up (really, she kisses him a lot and sleeps in his bed) with Dante–why he had to return is frustrating beyond belief because I couldn’t stand him in the first novel and in fact, he’s even worse in this one–at a party and then follows the Caraval performers to their next location in order to play the game herself so that she can repay the apparently evil man who helped her and Scarlett get themselves into the first game. As an aside, I wonder how this guy managed to get them into the game in the first place but also arranged for Julian to bring them out there because it doesn’t seem like he actually has the connections necessary to do so if Tella was supposed to get him Legend’s real name as payment. Unfortunately, she never managed to get his payment from before by the deadline, so now the stakes have been increased and if she does not hand over the mysterious Caraval Master by the end of the game, she will not only lose her mother but she will also lose her life.
Garber’s inability to get me to care about what happens to these characters comes from a number of places. The first lies in the fact that they’re all enormously selfish–especially Tella–and we, as readers, are expected to like them for being selfish. I don’t think Garber even realizes how truly selfish these characters are and attempts rather poorly to masquerade the majority of them as caring individuals. In fact, the only character who seems to give a damn about anyone but themselves is Dante and it is in the most annoying of ways. Ironically enough, while Dante has several selfless moments, he is the character eventually pinned down as the most selfish and uncaring. Tella, in fact, is so utterly stupid that she questions whether or not he cares for her simply because, at one point, he runs off and this is in spite of the fact that he saves her life multiple times throughout the course of the novel. Not only is Tella selfish and stupid, but she is also unnecessarily dramatic on almost every damn page of the book, often over the most idiotic of things.
The love interests in this story are absolutely ridiculous, largely because they are all representative of deeply unhealthy relationships. Jacks is stereotypical abusive, so I suppose its a good thing that Tella doesn’t actually love him, but the fact that he is presented as a potential suitor is incredibly frustrating. I also find the entire plot surrounding who he is, why he kisses Tella, and what that kiss ultimately results in at the end are thoroughly ridiculous and unrealistic. Dante is shrouded in secrecy for no reason because it’s incredibly easy for readers to figure out all of his secrets. He gets annoyed with Tella for no reason and then decides to knowingly put her in danger, which he later regrets all because he cares about her. Ironically, when he and Tella discuss this, her thoughts turn immediately to the fact that she would have reciprocated his actions had the situation been reversed. It’s good to know that, when they are feeling annoyed with each other, they’ll go out of their way to put the other one in danger. Of course, it is when Tella knowingly throws herself into risky situations all with the express purpose of angering him that Dante apparently falls in love with her. I just…how is this okay?
To add to all of this buffoonery, I’ve read two books in this world now, both focused on the main characters playing Caraval, and I still don’t have the faintest idea as to how or what, even, the damn game actually is? The clues are nonsense and at the end of the day all of the answers simply fall into the laps of the main characters despite the fact that they just run around literally doing nothing for the entire bloody novel. And don’t even get me started on the absolute ridiculousness that was the vapidly stupid plot twist behind Scarlett’s fiancée from the previous book. I rolled my eyes so hard I think I’m going to have a hard time seeing for the next week and a half.
And Legend’s identity? Yeah, I saw that coming a mile away. The magic in the novel makes absolutely no sense, which ultimately leaves me feeling as though the main plot was entirely useless. There’s so much riding on the fact that the fates are bad and must not be released from their card prisons and while everyone seems to understand this, the character with the most to lose doesn’t seem to care. In fact, this character who is supposed to be quite intelligent doesn’t even pause for a second to consider other options? The idiocy of the characters who are supposed to be smart just astounds me sometimes. I’m sorry, but an author cannot simply tell me that their character is smart and expect me to believe this nonsense when everything written shows me the exact opposite.
At this point, I’m fairly certain that nothing will really ever alleviate the vast amount of confusion I have as to why and how this book ever gained the level of popularity that it did.