[Review] Legion #1 – Brandon Sanderson

Book Title:                  Legion (Short Story, Legion, #1)
Author:                         Brandon Sanderson
Number of pages:
   88

Synopsis:

legion - brandon sanderson (cover)Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

(re: Goodreads @ Legion by Brandon Sanderson)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

-The dynamic between Leeds and his hallucinatory phantasms is a blast to read into.
– Plot reads like a detective tale with undertones of science, religion, and faith.
– Revelations do feel a bit rushed and open-ended in concept (not to be mistaken for a ‘bad’ ending).

legion-brandon-sanderson-scorecard-600x300

Initial Thoughts

Following the idea that a short story equals a simpler review (because it only makes sense to not ramble too much about so little), this review is increasingly condensed—for your sake and mine (but mainly yours).

Disclaimer: There may be spoilers inherent to this review from this point onward.


Afterthoughts:

“My Name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.”

Is it me or does that sound like something you’d hear on the introduction to some television shows. Cough: “My name is Oliver Queen….”, “My name is Barry Allen…” uhh…fuck yeah, sign me up. But dude, seriously, this short story is pretty neat. And fun. Anyways…

Premise

Legion is a comedic urban, science-fiction fantasy wrapped up in a detective-ish mystery with religious undertones. It is a story about a man, perhaps one of the brightest men, and his sudden conquest to find a camera. A camera you say? Yes, we are not searching for the sunglasses that are on his head. But seriously, Leeds could probably care less about a damn camera—he has 47 hallucinatory problems and a camera ain’t one. That is until he is presented with a picture of a woman who started it all, the woman who helped Stephen control his mind’s abilities. And he needs to find her.

Characters

Imagine that everything you thought you knew how to do was actually in part skills and abilities honed by a hallucination, figments of your imagination, each carrying a unique trait or [basically] mental capability at his or her disposal. There is a linguist, a graphologist, a Navy SEAL, a mechanic, and so many more quirky characters that are all unequivocally Leeds himself; except for the part where they all look different and have their own conscious minds if you will. They banter, they work alongside each other, and they even all have their own rooms in the mansion. Curses, Sandy, I can’t even tell whether or not the protagonist is supposed to be Leeds himself or the several tens of hallucinations that are also…Stephen Leeds. My brain hurts. But the coolest part was that all these characters were seemingly people of colour (well, a large percentage of them anyways) and the dynamics shared between each other was probably the best part of this story (despite there being so little room for growth).

“You see people who aren’t there, Mister Leeds. It’s a difficult fact to get around.”

“And yet, I live a good life,” I said. “Tell me. Why would you consider me insane, but the man who can’t hold a job, who cheats on his wife, who can’t keep his temper in check? You call him sane?”

“Well, perhaps not completely . . .”

“Plenty of ‘sane’ people can’t manage to keep it all under control. Their mental state—stress, anxiety, frustration—gets in the way of their ability to be happy. Compared to them, I think I’m downright stable. Though I do admit, it would be nice to be left alone. I don’t want to be anyone special.”

Narration/Setting/Themes

This book is incredibly short, executed with snappy pacing, and propels the plot from west-to-east in landscape. Perhaps it is in the nature of a novella, but seriously, the first chapter grabbed me right away and never let go. The character dynamics delivered alongside tight moments of thrilling suspense were solid in crafting a short story that truly begs for more of Leeds and his otherworldly beings. Further to this, the story manages to tie religion and faith into the narrative without having it read as preachy with a hidden agenda (at least, I didn’t think so—or maybe that’s just my agnosticism shining through…). Some may find the amount of commentary fits; others may think that the ends certainly do not justify the means of the limited scope and time this novel has in pushing its plot. In the end, I thought there was a careful balance to up-vote the depth in particular sensitive topics (like faith and terrorism) without making too much of a statement. Does that make sense? (I hope it does.)

Overall

This book is like a bucket of fun but after you dump all the fun everywhere…you start to wonder how good the payoff is when you have to clean it all up. And that was the worst analogy I’ve ever crafted—my apologies. Basically, the journey was far better than the destination. Legion doesn’t try to overcomplicate the plot but the ending is left a tad open for my taste considering the lack of explanation on certain narrative elements. That being said, it could be one of those tomayto/tomahto type scenarios and while I was on certainly board and throwing my money at each chapter, the final revelation was just a pay-grade over okay. But I won’t lie: it did leave me wanting more.


//end of such nonsense.

How is it that I try to write a short review and I still manage to write over 500 words. I have a problem 😦

Cheers,
Joey

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