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

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered

Splintered
by A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #1
Publication date: 1 January 2013
Amulet Books, Hardcover, 371 pages
Source: Library

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Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family.

She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Rating: ★★★★★

Splintered is packed with so much awesomeness, I don’t even know where to start.

Well, one of the reasons why I picked this book was because I’m Alice in Wonderland-crazy. I just love how it’s so whimsical and fun, with a dash of madness. And who would’ve thought about writing the story of Alice’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Alyssa? Genius!

The first thing the book did was to creep me out. Alyssa has this… thing with killing bugs (because she can hear them talking, so killing shuts them up), and using them as part of her art pieces. I’m really amazed by how she isn’t afraid of them, especially when they’re beetles and spiders. Also, I can imagine from my mind’s eye her art works, and they’re simply gorgeous. No kidding. Another thing that made Splintered rather unsettling was that craziness runs in her family.

Besides the creepy factor, the book also included the air of mystery – riddles, memories and lullabies that all piece together and unravel the story. Gore was not spared: in Alyssa’s trip through Wonderland, the creatures and events that took place made me cringe, both in horror and fright. Ms Howard’s detailed descriptions of the characters and the setting really put me into the perfect setting and atmosphere, allowing me to get feels (what Adel calls when one gets overwhelmed with emotions when reading a book) throughout the whole book. Action was also present, and I loved that it made the story deliciously exciting – it literally had me at the edge of my seat, anticipating what will happen next. Unexpected twists and turns in the book left me breathless, and sometimes even screaming with rage.

The romance in Splintered isn’t your regular, cliché romance. Jeb and Morpheus were both written with their own flaws and unique characteristics, so there wasn’t any obvious bias towards any of them. Alyssa’s choice between Jeb and Morpheus wasn’t made clear until the end of Splintered. Honestly, I could not decide between Jeb or Morpheus till close to the end of the book!

Now, on to the characters!

Alyssa: At the beginning of Splintered, I felt that Alyssa was rather unsure of herself from her self-confidence level. This was partly due to her being teased about craziness running in her family, and she was afraid that she would be the next one being sent to an asylum. However, through the course of the book, I could see her confidence growing. Entering Wonderland seemed to make her more sure about herself, as she felt that she fit in with the madness going on in there; that she was ‘normal’ among the ‘crazy’. By the end of the book, I actually felt proud of Alyssa in that ‘you go girl!’ way! I could see a change in her, and I personally felt that it made her a better person all around. As I quote from her, ‘I’m not even the same girl I was when I arrived in the rabbit hole with Jeb. I’m stronger.’ . I loved the fact that Alyssa was somewhat girly through the way she dresses (which, I must say, is rather quirky!), yet she has this adventurous and dark side to her. Jeb described her as ‘a mix between skate glam and American sweetheart’, and I totally agree with that!

Jeb: Initially, I wasn’t really fan of him. Dark stubble, labret, and hair long enough for their tips to brush his shoulders, and ‘thick bangs [that] dip low – a black curtain touching his nose’ added up to give me the impression that he was some shaggy haired, unkempt guy. (I couldn’t help but give him credit for his green eyes, though.) I was surprised to find myself actually finding this messy look attractive as the story developed. Add the fact that he’s caring, protective and shows much brotherly love to Alyssa, and he got me swooning. My heart melted at how he can be so self-sacrificial! Of course, Jeb has his own flaws, too. I found him rather stubborn, and he can be extremely frustrating at times. He did make some rash decisions that left me disappointed about his lack of hindsight, but I guess that without all of these, Jeb simply would not be Jeb.

Morpheus: I felt apprehensive about Morpheus through most of the book. Somehow, the things he did just made me felt like he needed to be approached with caution. I was often suspicious of him, as if whatever he did had an ulterior motive. I also had a fluctuating love and hate for Morpheus. It’s crazy. One moment, I can be swooning over how sexy he is, and the next, I’m ready to dive right into the book, rip his head off and feed it to a lion (or more like the bandersnatch!). Just like Jeb, he can be so frustrating! While reading the book, there were times when I felt so pissed off with both Jeb and Morpheus, that I want to grab both of their heads and smash them together till they’re senseless. Gosh, those were the times when they really got on my nerves. Nevertheless, I’m glad that the book ended with me not feeling any strong sense of hate towards Morpheus.

To wrap up my review, I simply can’t put my love for Splintered in words. Ms Howard did a wonderful job of recreating Wonderland and its characters, making the whole spin-off intriguing. I felt that the story was truly impressive – elements of the original Wonderland were kept, whilst new twists gave the story a dark and mysterious edge. Splintered is a book that will make you laugh, tear up (or even cry!), feel so much anger, dread, joy, heart break and sorrow. It even made me feel delirious at the end of the story!

Splintered is whimsical madness.

———-

Wheee! I recently found out about a giveaway for Splintered, called the “Get UNHINGED” Giveaway! Pardon me, but OH MY GOSH I’M SO CRAZILY EXCITED. THE PRIZES FOR THE GIVEAWAY ARE DARN AMAZING! I really really need those goodies. Bad. And you might be wondering, why is the giveaway called “Get UNHINGED”? Well, that’s another piece of good news.

*drumroll*

Unhinged is the sequel of Splintered.

Eeek! I can’t wait! The expected publication is in Janurary 2014, so I’ll be dying in anticipation for Unhinged.

That’s all for my review and raving of the “Get UNHINGED” Giveaway, so goodbye for now!

Yours truly

Signature--JZ

Can’t keep our hands off books!

Yup, we really can’t resist reading.

What happened today was that Adel wanted to return a book at the library. We had agreed that we would leave immediately after doing so, but we ended up walking into the library to browse some newly-released books. And that of course, lead us deeper into the depths of the library… We emerged half an hour later, both of us armed with books.

It happens everytime.

Anyway, you might be curious about what we had borrowed! As for Adel…

Juliet Immortal

Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal, #1) by Stacey Jay

And for me, I got two books!

Skylark

Skylark (Skylark, #1) by Meagan Spooner

The Traitor in the Tunnel

The Traitor in the Tunnel (The Agency, #3) by Y. S. Lee

I just had to get The Traitor in the Tunnel even though I’ve never read the first book. I really can’t resist a mystery book, especially one that sounds good!

And that wraps up our library haul for today!

Yours truly

Signature--JZ