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