Review: Requiem

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
Release Date ~ March 5, 2013
HarperTeen ~ HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780062014535
ARC received from HarperCollins Canada 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

I had a significant number of worries coming into Requiem. This book was easily my most anticipated read of 2013; I've invested so much emotion and energy into this story and its characters. Delirium easily stands as one of my favourite books ever.

But there was so much riding on this one little book! I'd say that Alex, rather than Lena, is my favourite character of the bunch and Pandemonium just didn't seem to set things up for the ending I wanted to see. And there's always something heartbreaking about the ending of a series; bittersweet, like saying goodbye to old, familiar friends.

I'll say right away that I was not nearly as disappointed or as devastated as most other readers seemed to be by Requiem. It made me look at the trilogy from a whole new light, and I'm curious to see how I'll feel after re-reading the three books. Also: this review is the hardest one I've ever written, hands down.

  1. A story about love that's about more than romance:

    One thing I've noticed is how easy it is for us readers to get caught up in the Julian/Alex debate. But while reading Requiem, I soon became aware that this was not the biggest focus of the book or even the series. I'm so appreciative that Lauren Oliver took the chance to explore other avenues of love, from the relationship between Lena and her mother, to her best friend Hana, to the deep, life-altering friendships she makes in The Wilds and within the resistance. I think it's easy for us to focus so much on these swoon-worthy boys that we miss some of the other heartbreaking moments; for me, it was notably the deterioration of Lena and Hana's friendship and Lena's lack of a relationship with her mother, Annabel. And you know what? I was honestly & pleasantly surprised by how much Requiem didn't focus on the romance. That's a blessing in YA these days and really great for those who want to see more from a book than just romance. Yet it still has some of the best romance I've ever read about (in the series, as a whole).
  2. Lena's epic character transformation:

    I'd hate to call this "character development" because it's much more than that - rather, it's more like an evolution. When you compare the old Lena from Delirium to the changing Lena in Pandemonium with the new Lena in Requiem, it becomes apparent how drastic these changes have been. Yet, one thing I noticed re-reading Delirium is that the seeds of change were already planted in Lena before Alex ever came along. I might even say that she's more like her mother than she may ever realize. But I believe it is entirely consistent with her character and who she is for this transformation to take place.
  3. A world falling apart:

    One of my favourite parts of this series is that Lauren has so much attention on the world she's created, and really works to bring it to life through her stories. I found Requiem to have a bit more of an emphasis on this, and we really get to see a society that's crumbling apart. I'm incredibly curious to know what happens in the future, but I think it's clear that big changes are coming for society.
  4. Hana offers a fresh perspective to the book:

    Hana is easily one of the most interesting characters from the Delirium cast, and I think this is another reason in support of saying that by Requiem, it's very clear that the books are about so much more than a love triangle or even just Lena's life. While Lena is busy with the resistance, Hana is our insider view to Portland and the "upper class" of that community. I found Hana's story to have the potential to be just as heartbreaking as Lena's, and her voice stood out so much from Lena's narrative that it was a great way to freshen up the series. 
I'll also admit that it would take a lot for me to truly hate this book - I'm well aware that I'm biased (and maybe partially blinded?) by my love for these books. And I can understand why so many readers may be disappointed by how few plot elements are actually wrapped up. That is disappointing, but I can see how the open-endedness works well too. (For me, I'm happily convinced that Alex and Lena are together forever and have ten happy little babies and they spend a lot of time reading poetry and kissing. It doesn't matter what happens in these books, that has always been the ending I invented.) 

I was, however, a tad disappointed with Lena at a few points. I was surprised by her reactions a few times, particularly when it came to Alex and Julian because most of that felt so immature. While something so big is happening with the resistance, it didn't fit to have so much angst between a handful of characters about personal problems. Maybe it was the stress of it all that brought out their worst, but it largely felt out of character to me (and yes, I'm pointing my blame-finger at you too, Alex). 

I've tried my best to be spoiler-free here, but I have a lot of ideas and thoughts I'd like to discuss more in a spoiler-friendly format. So expect a spoiler-y letter where I vent all my feelings to Lena for catharsis. SOON.

And I'm most excited to read the special short from Alex's POV in the first edition Requiem books! I'm hoping that it will give me my necessary dose of Alex Sheathes <3


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I really loved the exploration of love in different ways and that Requiem was not all about the boys. The ending definitely made me think more about the series as a whole. The only thing I was a little disappointed in with this book was how the one plot point comes in so close to the ending, I wanted it to be fleshed out a little more. But I definitely loved this book very much! I am biased with you, and totally agree on your ending :)

Siobhan said...

This an amazing review Brenna, I am really excited to read it, but hesitant at the same time. I hate that this series is ending, so maybe of I hold off reading it, it won't actually end? It a good theory right? haha

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Wonderful review and yes I am glad you touched on all the relationship of love this author brought to the table. I do think we saw growth in Lena, despite some issues I had with her. Totally agree about Alex, and even though he isn't always present he is was there.

Annette Mills said...

I've read a lot about the love triangle in reviews - mostly negative- but I, like you, didn't really think the romance was that big of a part of the story. That's not the emphasis -- at least not to me. And, I agree, I loved Hana -- that was the best part of Requiem. Thanks for commenting on my review!

Kindlemom said...

I absolutely loved that this alternated between Lena and Hana. I really liked Hana so much after reading this. It explained so much and she really did redeem herself.
With the ending, I can't help wondering if there will be a spin-off of sorts but that may just be more of wishful thinking on my part. :)

starryeyedjen said...

Beautiful review! I'm so glad you stopped by mine so that I could find yours and feel the same justification you felt. I had the same ending in mind from the very start, and no one will convince me it ends otherwise. :) I can't wait to get my copy either so I can read the Alex chapter. I would have loved to have his POV in one of the books...or at least a novella from his perspective during the Pandemonium timeframe.

ChristasBooks said...

Great review Brenna. I whole heartedly agree. I know a lot of people were disappointed but I think it worked. Like you I liked that it wasn't all about the romance. Though that's such an important aspect to the book I think it would have been neglectful to ignore the political and social upheaval that she had built into the story.

Lauren said...

Great review! I'm glad that you enjoyed it, I also really enjoyed it(4 stars). I was really apprehensive as I had seen so many reviews that people didn't like it but I was pleasantly surprised. I also am happily content with thinking that Lena & Alex are together :) The only thing I hated about the book was... the Raven part. It took a piece of my soul away :(

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