Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem

Requiem
by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #3
Publication Date: 05 March 2013
HarperCollins, Hardcover, 391 pages
Source: Borrowed

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WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR DELIRIUM & 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 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.

Rating: ★★★★½

One word to sum it all up: AWESOME.

In this (fairly) lengthy review, I would be sharing my thoughts about Requiem, as well as my overall thoughts of the entire delirium trilogy.

Requiem delivered an astonishingly well-told story, allowing me to explore the era of the near future in the eyes of both Hana and Lena. Their lives are different – yet the same – one trapped, stifled and forced by the norms and expectations of being the fiancée to the soon-to-be mayor; the other one stranded, deserted and alone, despite being in a team, she cannot truly rely on anyone. There was a large degree of conflict in the novel, be it between Lena and Hana, between Lena and Coral, Lena and Raven, Hana and her mother, Lena and her mother, Lena and Alex and of course, Julian and Alex. These interpersonal conflicts are so inextricably wound together that I could imagine a single character without them. Such conflicts present in the novel trace the character flaws of each character, defining hem for who they are and what they stand for. The symbolism of their relationships struck me the most.

The structure of the novel was different as compared to Delirium and Pandemonium, and although Lauren Oliver adapted the story to such a difficult fixture (for I had previously read other books which tried, unsuccessfully, to write in dual perspectives of leads – where the two protagonists are portrayed in an awkward manner), she did a fantastic job – I’m not kidding. The different lives of Lena and Hana eventually culminate inevitably in one crucial encounter, that is, the very point in the novel where readers had been so eagerly awaiting. That momentary recognition, nostalgia and action on the part of somewhere in between friendship and obligation of the two old friends ensure the smooth transition to the climatic end of the novel.

I felt as though the book could be made into a movie, and the thoughts of the characters were almost voiceovers in treacherous times. That’s how good it was for me, apparently. I especially enjoyed the tension between Alex and Julian – and now I appreciate why Lauren Oliver decided to dedicate a book to each of them – to show the depth of each of their relationships with Lena. It was definitely a much different experience from Twilight, where we know that in the love angle, Edward would emerge as ‘winner’ at the expense of Jacob’s emotional hurt over losing Bella. Rather, I honestly believed that both Alex and Julian had a nearly equal competition for Lena’s feelings, and of course, she would have the final say. I was glad that, there was no “Hunger Games” situation, where maybe either Alex or Julian would have died and Lena left with “no choice” but to go with the one who survives / still is sane enough / not evil or dead, for her to love (Katniss-Peeta-Gale déjà vu moment, LOL).

I was rather impressed with the pace of Requiem. I was absolutely thankful that there was no one point in the story that seemed to ostentatiously protrude, offering a false urgency that barrels the plot towards a predictable climax and resolution. There was no such thing. And I loved it. The story didn’t seem to progress as slowly as it did in Delirium, and not as rushed or confusingly as did Pandemonium (though I choose to believe that the pace aided in the plot and structure of these two novels prior to Requiem), and moved at a comfortable, yet exciting pace. I believe that the plot couldn’t be too rushed as there needed to be some deserved build up of romantic and emotional tension that allowed a thorough sense of character development, and neither could the plot move at a snail’s pace, lest there would be a lack of “plot propulsion”, causing the audience to unfortunately lose their interest.

I enjoyed the gradual build up of anticipation, triggered by the small battles and “conquests” of the rebels along the way, and Hana’s point of view, which revealed more depth in her character than I ever could have imagined. The only problem was the tense; I felt that throughout the series, the usage of present tense gave the story a false immediacy used to “appeal” to young readers as a new technique of writing. However, it has grown on me and I have learnt to accept Delirium the way it is. I like how the storyline encompasses not only the overarching theme of romance, but how it includes politics, friendship, loyalty and family as the main themes as well. I was glad that there were also elements of betrayal, comradeship, violence and action. I enjoyed how the story translated meaning more than: “if love were a disease”, but more of towards the choices one makes in his or her life and how they affect our paths.

(SPOILER)

And at the end of the book, we are not consumed by the victory of the protagonists, for the victory is a loss to be sustained in some ways, it’s a give and take situation. Who Lena ends up with is not very tightly determined, though biased; we can still weave the ending and interpret a fixed one ourselves. The conclusion is open to our imagination, yes, mirroring the freedom awarded to the champions of the rebellion.

And now, I’ll leave you to your thoughts. (:

Dee

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