Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver Requiem (Delirium #3)
By Lauren Oliver

To Sum It Up:

With the government determined to wipe out the clusters of resistance that have cropped up across the country, the Wilds have become a dangerous place for Lena and her companions. They are constantly on the move, trying to avoid the government patrols that now regularly sweep the rugged terrain in search of rebels. Meanwhile back in Portland, Lena’s former best friend, Hana, now cured of amor deliria nervosa, prepares for her wedding. Her fiancĂ© will soon be mayor, and it seems that Hana is about to embark on a fairytale life. The reality of her situation couldn’t be farther from that, though. It’s freedom from exactly that kind of life that Lena is fighting for, no matter what the cost.


Requiem ranters, I feeleth thy pain. The conclusion to the Delirium series eerily reminds me of how I felt after reading the final book in Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. The middle books of both dystopian series had thrilling build-ups that made you expect, and even look forward to, a ton of action in the finales. Both Reached and Requiem failed to deliver on their promises, though. I’ve always liked the Delirium series more than Matched, which made Requiem all the more disappointing.

Requiem felt very meandering to me, in a “Hey, let’s just see where the story takes us!” kind of way. Maybe that’s because Lena and her compatriots in the resistance spend so much time roaming about in the woods arguing about where they should head next. They eventually settle on a destination, but not after I’d already been bored reading about their daily routine of setting up their tents, starting a fire, collecting food and water, blah, blah, a routine that I had to continue reading about throughout the novel.

I thought Lauren Oliver’s technique of dividing the previous book, Pandemonium, into “Then” and “Now” chapters chronicling Lena’s arrival in the Wilds and her present day mission for the resistance movement and converging the two timelines was just brilliantly done. I do not, however, have the same enthusiasm for the alternating points of view in Requiem. This time, Lena shares narrating duties with her former best friend, Hana, last seen in Delirium. Hana has been cured and is set to marry the soon-to-be mayor, Fred Hargrove. While the idea of reading from the perspective of someone who has undergone the procedure was novel and I give Oliver credit for continuing to be ambitious with her writing style, I just didn’t find Hana’s chapters interesting. Her fiancĂ© was cartoonishly evil; there was no depth to him whatsoever. I didn’t find Hana all that likable, either, especially once her big secret was revealed. Then I kind of hated her. I remember reading the stilted dinner conversations between Lena’s aunt and uncle in Delirium and even between Lena and her cured sister. The lack of emotion was chilling. Although Hana isn’t a lifeless narrator, it’s still not easy reading from her cured POV, either. I get that Oliver wanted to juxtapose rebel Lena and cured Hana’s stories, but it just didn’t work for me.

For a series built around the freedom to love, there wasn’t much revolting, resisting, or rebelling going on until almost the end of the book. And there was one word beginning with “R” that was conspicuously lacking in the novel: romance! Lena’s little love triangle conundrum was referenced a few times, but it certainly wasn’t the focal point that I’d expected it to be. Speaking of Lena, I was disappointed with her character in this one. Where is the Lena from Pandemonium who helped Julian Fineman escape the New York City subway tunnels and who beat the crap out of anyone who messed with her? Well, she’s not the Lena who’s in Requiem, that’s for sure. This Lena is sort of mopey, freezes up during a tense situation more than once, and just doesn’t have Pandemonium Lena’s fire.

I feel like I skimmed most of Requiem because it never really engaged my attention. Because the previous books had ended so memorably, I’d hoped that an unforgettable conclusion would salvage Requiem for me. Nope. I’m not one for rah-rah inspirational messages, especially as a final impression. The strength of this book, as it always has been throughout the series, is Oliver’s writing, and so I’m giving this three stars. If I were basing the rating on how much I enjoyed the book and the amount of closure it gave, two and a half stars would be more accurate.

All in All:

Although I’ve never been a diehard fan of this series, I was invested enough to find Requiem a rather large letdown, particularly Lena’s character regression. Everything that I loved about the second book, Pandemonium, was missing here, from the action to the romance to the kick-ass version of Lena. This wasn’t the finale that I’d envisioned, but that’s just me.


  1. I absolutely agree! I hated that Lena was just a simpering, depressed follower in this one. Not at all the girl from earlier on. And don't even get me started on the lack of love...ugh! I've ranted so much about this book, I won't bombard your blog with my angst. :) Great review, as always!

    1. You can rant here anytime, Ali! I kept waiting for Lena to snap out of her funk and start acting like the take-charge heroine from Pandemonium, but it didn't happen. And I just didn't get how a series could revolve around the freedom to choose whom you love and then skip out on the romance in the last book.

  2. Oh, that's so disappointing. I've been hearing the same complaints everywhere. It's on the bottom of my to read list now.

    1. I'd been really eager to read this, and now I kind of wish I'd left the series at Pandemonium. It definitely didn't measure up to the expectations I had.

  3. I have a funny feeling I'd form a similar opinion, but at least that stops me feeling any pressure to read this ASAP. Great review, Lee.

    1. This was not at all the book I'd thought it would be. Pandemonium was by far my favorite book in the series.


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