Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Release: March 5, 2013
Source: Library
Others in the Series: Delirium and Pandemonium
They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.
My favorite and most highly valued aspect of dystopia is the psychology behind each of the characters. I love glimpsing into the minds of the government's followers, seeing the tactics leaders use for deception, and watching the main character inevitably start to break away from his or her former beliefs. As a result, remarkable concepts and development are always on my look-out list when starting a book of this genre. Requiem, despite issues I cannot overlook, expands beautifully not just on how a rebel thinks, but on how a follower thinks, and for that I give it high praise.

The book opens with the voice of Lena, who has seen a lot and has much to say about it. She has grown immensely from the younger, accepting version of herself that she was in Delirium, and she now possesses a considerable amount of insight about people and their relationships. Even in the most barren, deadly, and desperate of places, she still manages to experience love and friendship, observe their inner workings, and compare her current thoughts to the ones that ran through her head in the past. Her development creates a contrast with a gradient that is fascinating to see filled, and it highlights everything wrong about the culture she used to accept.

Hana's narration, though, is even more captivating. Confused and unsure whether her cure worked, she is desperate to believe she is a normal member of society, but she cannot stop questions about her government and herself from nagging at her. And as interesting as this internal conflict is in itself, the insight it provides on the way the cure works is even better. Love is a combination of the entire spectrum of emotions, so I always wanted more observations on how the procedure affects different aspects of a person's thought process. Hana tells readers how her mind is different now, hinting on the technical details of the surgery around which this trilogy centers.

However, even the strongest character development does not necessarily make a powerful plot, and that is what Requiem is missing: a forceful series of events that gives readers satisfaction. This book is action-packed enough, and the bloodshed makes it a gripping story, but what should have been a remarkable conclusion is a flimsy final scene that dangles in a not-so-resonant way. The entire ending is one big plot hole, an ultimate stand and a romantic resolution that should have spanned much longer than the few pages it does. Because the last of the events are so rushed and condensed, they appear unrealistic and cramped and will leave readers wondering what happens next—and not in a speculative manner, but in the fashion that results when the ending deserves more development.

I still consider myself a fan of this trilogy, but despite Oliver's gorgeous writing, I cannot help but think that its development is out of order. I wish the collective story first built a deeper understanding of the society and used the final installment to focus on how the characters overthrow it. Instead, Requiem often feels like a place to cram in details left out before. It has its many beautiful bits, but the final words this book presents to the reader are unintentionally weak and diaphanous, as if they are trying too hard not to be.

And that will be the thing I remember most vividly when I reminisce upon the Delirium trilogy.

6 comments:

  1. Sigh. I've heard awful things about this one so I've avoided it forever and I'm glad I didn't make a mistake on that part. I mean, I might pick it up someday, but I really don't want lack of execution and boredom to be my last thought of this great series. The ending is what matters most and this whole book is the ending to an entire series. The plot is a MUST. It's the whole climax! Sorry it disappointed!

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  2. Sorry you didn't really love this one. I haven't read the series, but then again, I'm only a big curious...might not be worth checking out any time soon. I agree with you about liking the psychology behind characters!

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  3. I loved the first book, and most of this one, but I the end left much to be desired.

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  4. Sorry you didn't like it. I haven't read this series, but I heard great things when the first two books were published... and then not many things about the third.

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  5. I keep debating if I want to have this trilogy on my TBR. I think, somehow, this post gave me a clearer view of the trilogy as a whole...I am still undecided though.

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  6. I completely agree! Lauren Oliver has such a beautiful prose, but, unfortunately, the world-building just didn't do it for me. I needed more background information, and I'm glad I'm not the only one! So far I've only read Delirium, but I guess I'll pick up Pandemonium and Requiem soon!

    Thanks so much for sharing Emily, and, as always, brilliant review! You're such a great writer! :D

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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