Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Today is finally the day, Requiem is here.  Because Christie was nice enough to get me an ARC at ALA Midwinter, I have read it.  And yes, I loved it. (My letter to Lauren Oliver after having read Pandemonium, book 2 in the Delirium trilogy).

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.



Requiem tells us not only the story of what happens with Lena (and Alex and Julian), but of Hana.  This time, Hana gets a voice.  And her story is really quite well done and touching.  I have always loved the friendship between Hana and Lena, flawed though it may be, but seeing what happens to her after she is cured is really quite interesting.  In many ways, the story of Hana turns out to be the best part of Requiem; heartbreaking, thoughtful and an important catalyst for what happens next.

In fact, this inside look at the cure is really quite important for our story, it provides balance and insight that we needed to contrast with the life of Lena.  And Lena's story continues to play out in interesting ways as well.

“This is the strange way of the world, that people who simply want to love are instead forced to become warriors.” - Lauren Oliver, Requiem

The politics really explode in Requiem, and it is interesting.  There is a subplot involving electricity that is nauseating but insightful; it really illuminates the lengths that some will go to grab a hold of and keep power - at any cost.  There are some very obvious and relevant current parallels here.  The politics of Requiem, of the entire series, are very interesting to me - and relevant.  And discussable.  It may be hard for us, as readers, to understand the idea of the cure, but it is very easy to take this removed look at politics and see how it applies to the world that we live in today.


“Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point.
You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don't know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling you stomach.
And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.”
Lauren Oliver, Requiem  

This Part is Spoilery for Books 1 and 2, Not Requiem

One of the interesting thing that Oliver does here involves the love triangle.  Of all the elements of the story, this was my least favorite.  I was angry that Alex wasn't really dead.  Not because I didn't like Alex, but because I thought it would be such a bold storytelling move and I didn't want another love triangle.  I don't think that Oliver goes into what happened with Alex while he was away enough, but she does manage to set up an effective triangle.  Somehow, it is more believable than most of the triangles I have encountered, in part I think because there is history with Alex as opposed to the insta love.  So while Alex comes back angry and distant, that solid love foundation was already there making the triangle so much more believable.  More importantly, throughout the story you really aren't sure what is going to happen, who Lena will end up with.

“Who knows? Maybe they’re right. 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.”
Lauren Oliver, Requiem 

Where Oliver excels as a storyteller is in her use of language and her development of characters.  Lena changes a lot over the course of our series, and you see those changes occur. You hear her being self reflective as these changes occur and really think about them, sometimes after the fact, but she has a thoughtfulness about her.  For me, the idea that we need freedom, even if it means having the freedom to make mistakes and wrong choices, is one of the most important messages that we can give our youth, and the message is delivered powerfully in this series.  There are mistakes made, but it is important that we have the freedom to make them - and learn from them.

“This is what amazes me: that people are new every day. That they are never the same. You must always invent them, and they must always invent themselves, too.”
Lauren Oliver, Requiem  

All in all, this was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.  I will miss Lena and this world.  4 out of 5 stars.

Join us for the Requiem Twitter chat on Friday, March 15th at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. #TLTDelirium

2 comments:

  1. I really think I liked Hana's perspective more in this one too. I also wish we knew more about what happened to Alex. I know this is most people's least favorite aspect of the book, and I'm just "meh" about the whole romance thing. It didn't ruin the book for me, but it just didn't matter because there was so much other good stuff to love. I really wanted more from the ending --a bit to unfinished for me. Great review -- thanks!

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  2. Requiem was just such a major dissapointment for me, honestly I was expecting more, i didn't feel the ending did the series justice at all! I was reading and seeing the decline in pages and was like freaking out because the love traingle was well still a TRIANGLE. I didn't get closure from any of the characters and was really upset about it!

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