Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Posted September 2, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 6 Comments

Requiem

by Lauren Oliver

Requiem

Original Publishing Date: March 5, 2013
Approximate Length: 391 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Obtained Via: Borrowed from the library
Format Read In: Hardback
View from the Traffic Light:

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Summary

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 fiancée 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-Review

DISCLAIMER: There is a spoiler for the previous book in this trilogy, Pandemonium, in this review. I tried hard to avoid it, but it was pretty much impossible, as those who have read Pandemonium will understand why. There are, however, not spoilers for Requiem. 

Opening Line: I’ve started dreaming of Portland again.

Wow. Well, with Requiem, I can say Lauren Oliver is the first author I’ve ever given both 5 stars to for books such as Delirium and Before I Fall, and one stars, for the massive disappointment that is Requiem. I’ve had a bit of a history with the Delirium trilogy–the first book in the series ended up being one of my favorites, but I was completely underwhelmed by Pandemonium. My reaction to Pandemonium wasn’t that favorable, plus most of my GoodReads friends gave Requiem low to moderate reviews, so I wasn’t expecting much. Yet, Requiem didn’t live up to even my lowest expectations.

If you were a Harry Potter fan when the last book came out, you may remember that general fan reaction to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a lot weaker at first than it is now. The seventh installment in one of the most-loved series of all times was definitely a book that appreciated with time. At first, I saw a lot of people refer to it as something to the effect of “Harry Potter and the Long Camping Trip”. Well, while I always enjoyed the 7th Harry Potter, the “Long Camping Trip” is exactly what Requiem felt like. At least during Lena’s point-of-view chapters, Requiem was a long camping trip filled with love triangle angst(but not even angst that made me feel emotionally, just annoyed), some death and destruction, and some vague plans for the Invalids. Oh, and a rebellion on a single city(for logic I still don’t quite understand. I know Portland was the city where the story started and all, but there are other cities. It’s not like rioting in Portland would magically fix everything).

Hana’s chapters were interesting at first, and I definitely enjoyed reading about her navigating her match than I did about Lena’s camping trip. However, around the halfway mark I felt her story never quite picked up steam when it was suppose to. She got information way to easily, and everything seemed so natural with her. I know she’s been “cured”, which is suppose to make her decisions easier, but the way she navigated through tricky situations just struck me as incredibly unbelievable.

I gave up caring about Lena as the protagonist of this trilogy about thirty percent of the way through Requiem. Her character just seemed all over the place. Indecisive, mean, and not really compelling in the slightest. This would have been fine if it’s the way she had always been characterized, but she seemed so completely different from the previous Lena. I am all for character development, and I totally got why her character changed in Pandemonium after all she had been through, but the way Oliver portrayed Lena stopped making sense to me in this book. I don’t care if a character is likable or not, but I want them to be compelling. And as much as I want Lena to be happy, I don’t exactly root for her the way I do for other characters.

The love triangle was annoying. It was this weird combination of not being featured enough for what it could have offered the story(I like love triangles when they’re done well, and they allow a character to explore two different aspects of their personality), but then also over-taking the story at times. Even though I have always liked Alex, I felt that Julian was very flat in this book. Now, he wasn’t my favorite in Pandemonium, but he felt much richer and vibrant and more real as a character in that book than he did in Requiem.

Which leads me to the ending of this book. . . Now, I don’t mind open endings. If Oliver had chosen to leave the love triangle open-ended, or have Lena not be with either, I would have been totally find with that. So many of my favorite books have ambiguous, open endings. The ending to Requiem, however, was not an open ending. It was a non-ending. Yes, Oliver writes very pretty prose(which is a reason I love Before I Fall so much), but a nice three paragraph ending of beautiful words does not count as an ending. If the visual equivalent of an open ending is the writer standing before you, holding his or her palms up, and asking you to pick a hand, then the end of Requiem is the equivalent of a shoulder shrug.

Final Impression: I really don’t know how this trilogy managed to take such a drastic turn south for me, especially since Delirium was easily a five star read. I knew going into this one that my expectations had been lowered, but I was still not ready for the MASSIVE disappointment that was my reading experience. Even without the most frustrating ending ever, I thought the plot was not compelling and I really wanted more. Lauren Oliver is still a fantastic writer, but I think maybe I’ll try to stick to her stand-alone books from now on, since I haven’t enjoyed the experience of reading a story across these three books. 1/5 cupcakes.

1cupcake

yellowaddit3whatothershavesaid
4.5 stars from YAdult Review

3 stars from Another Novel Read
The Middle Shelf from Book Rock Betty

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1 Stars

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6 responses to “Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

  1. “If you were a Harry Potter fan when the last book came out, you may remember that general fan reaction to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a lot weaker at first than it is now. The seventh installment in one of the most-loved series of all times was definitely a book that appreciated with time. At first, I saw a lot of people refer to it as something to the effect of “Harry Potter and the Long Camping Trip”.” <– Really??? I've seen some people nowadays talk about that, but I lovedlovedloved the seventh from the moment I read it. It was my fave then and my fave now. I definitely remember people hating on the epilogue, but from what I understand, that's always been the case haha.

    "It’s not like rioting in Portland would magically fix everything)." <– This is my problem with most YA dystopias. I never really feel like the full scope of what's going on is portrayed.

    "the way she navigated through tricky situations just struck me as incredibly unbelievable." <– Honestly, if you ever have any character do that, it seems unbelievable. I hate the whole it's-always-been-within-you sort of explanation, and while it sounds like this is a twist on that, even still it sounds ugh.

    "(I like love triangles when they’re done well, and they allow a character to explore two different aspects of their personality), but then also over-taking the story at times. Even though I have always liked Alex, I felt that Julian was very flat in this book." <– I agree with you that love triangles can be nice when they show you something about the character, but I also generally feel that that kind of thing happens when they exist. Somehow one interest grows less compelling, or the LT takes over the story, etc. Meh.

    "a nice three paragraph ending of beautiful words does not count as an ending" <– Now I'm really curious as to what was actually said. I'd seen a bunch of reviews when this first came out, and the book has such low ratings on Amazon – similar to what happened with Mockingjay… but yours is the first that I've seen that's actually expanded on some of the more displeasing aspects and even gave some details for Requiem.

    I hope you have better luck with her stand-alones! Sounds like, with PANIC coming out soon, there might not be any in the near future but… maybe another time? Or her MG titles.

    • stormydawnc

      Ah, it could have just been the blogs/sites/people I was around online at the time, but yeah, I heard a lot of HP7 being camping stories. I liked it a lot from the beginning too, but it’s definitely grown in my estimation since the initial release!
      The love triangle in Requiem was. . . strange. It was like sort-of the focus too much, but at the same time not really explored with any real depth. I could never quite get a handle on it. The ending to this book is BEAUTIFULLY written, I will say, but it’s . . . it’s not an ending. Not even an open one. *sigh* I wanted to like it so much!

  2. Ah yes. Wow, looking back, I still can’t believe I rated it 3 stars. I think I have a problem with wanting to be too nice sometimes, and I forget that my 2-star rating is “it was okay”. Anyway, I agree with you. Lena’s story was boring and all her stupid love triangle stuff was really annoying. I feel like nothing really got resolved in this book, except I guess one thing for Lena and one thing for Hana, which I won’t mention because of spoilers. But yeah. Super let-down.

    • stormydawnc

      I was the same way–my knee-jerk reaction was to give this book 2 stars, and have it be “meh”, but I had to talk to myself. The conversation went something like, “Stormy, no. You did not like this book at all. Just because you love the first book in the trilogy so much doesn’t mean you can make your reaction to this book be better than it really was”. It was just boring and while I understand the symbolism of them tearing down the wall, what did it actually accomplish? Not much.

  3. Shannelle C. (The Tracery of Ink)

    I feel the same way. Lauren Oliver is a fantastic writer, but Requiem? Far too big of a disappointment.

    • stormydawnc

      Exactly. I think I’ll stick with her stand-alones from now on. I’m definitely giving Panic a try.

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