Book Review Blitz: ARC of Requiem

Requiem book reviewRequiem (Delirium) by Lauren Oliver

Fans have been clamoring for the third installment in the Delirium trilogy (coming out in March 2013). After reading Pandemonium, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! Since this is the third book in the series, I won’t cover the plot elements of the first two books of this excellently written and thought-provoking dystopian series. Most readers of this review are already familiar with them and are trying to find out about Requiem! If you haven’t read the first two books…do. so. now. 😉 Ok, so for those of you who are chomping at the bit to find out if the third book lives up to the hype…It does. It’s even better.

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Requiem and blasted through it in a few hours. I was NOT disappointed. Sometimes subsequent books in a series can be a little bit weak and forced. I think Requiem is the best book out of the three or at least in a close tie with the 1st (the 2nd was great but it wasn’t my favorite of the three).

Warning: I may give away little elements of Requiem’s plot, but will stay away from any major spoilers.

One of the most asked questions I’ve seen online about it are “Does Lena end up with Alex or Julian?” Because of that, I’ll address that issue first WITHOUT GIVING IT AWAY. I think most people are rooting for Alex. He is, after all, the person who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for Lena and they are such a match. I felt in Pandemonium that Julian wasn’t a very strong character and the entire time I felt their relationship was orchestrated by circumstances without any real substance. It felt…childish. In Requiem, Lena is still trying to come to terms with the fact that Alex is alive with the fact that she has given her heart to Julian thinking Alex was dead. Most Y.A. books nowadays have some sort of “love triangle”, but they are usually clear-cut. At the end of Pandemonium, I’m sure it seemed pretty clear to most but Requiem muddies the waters in a big way. Julian grows immensely in the third book. His character blossoms. He is so good and gentle and kind while at the same time gaining a new found strength and maturity that I felt was absent in Pandemonium. He becomes a man, not a boy. Alex on the other hand appears very changed and much more harsh and yet you find out as the story progresses that isn’t really the case at all. You’ll find out how he is totally true to the character he displayed in the first book, even when it may appear that’s not the case.

The thing I like about Oliver’s books is that love is present, but these are not “romance” stories. There’s a lot of deeper meaning in fleshing out the relationships between Lena and the rest of the characters. The tension between her, Julian and Alex illustrates the difficulties we face as human beings. Emotions are volatile things and choices in life are not always so clear cut and easily made. Sometimes we have to face exceedingly painful moments to appreciate the wonderful ones. That is one of the things Lena and the others in the Wilds are fighting for… the freedom to feel. The freedom to choose. In the book there is a quote from a character named Pippa, “Welcome to the free world. We give people the power to choose. They can even choose the wrong thing. Beautiful, isn’t it?”

So that’s the question, what choice will Lena make? I don’t want to spoil it so I’m not going to share. 😉 I will say though that the answer is not as clearly defined as many would hope (although she does make a definite choice) and you’ll find out why. Still, it’s very realistic and it’s not going to be something you find out in the beginning…Yes, you’ll have to suffer through nearly the entire book to have it all play out. But, of course, it isn’t truly suffering as all of the action propels everything forward at the pace it needs to go. So while that subtle tension exists for a great deal of the book, it fits.

Requiem is narrated by both Lena and also, surprisingly, Hana from the first book. You are going to find out a big shocker (if you haven’t read the Hana novella). Each chapter alternates between their first person viewpoints of the world around them and this works exceedingly well. Usually one narration would leave off at a little cliff, which always left me eager to return to the next person, even though whatever I was reading was holding my attention without flagging. It kept me turning the pages at a pretty fast pace! Oooh what happens to Lena? Oooooh what happens to Hana? Eventually Lena and Hana’s stories converge. I’m not giving anything away there since that’s in the book blurb, but I will add that I thought it was a highly satisfying convergence as Hana has an opportunity thrust her way. I wasn’t disappointed with what she chose.

Requiem is a much grittier book than the other two and in some ways more fascinating. Lena’s experiences in the Wilds as a member of the resistance is fraught with danger and a surprising, unexpected twist that I just did not see coming. At one point in the book she thinks, “This is not freedom. This is not the new world we imagined. It can’t be. This is a nightmare.”

Hana’s world is also not exactly what it would seem on the surface. As she prepares to marry the new major, Fred, she stumbles onto some dark mysteries that kept me in a great deal of suspense. Her perfect world isn’t so perfect after all. Hana surprised me and I enjoyed getting a deeper look into her life and the lives of those with the cure. She turned out to be my favorite character in Requiem and I was happy she had a chance to redeem herself.

I was also happy to get to revisit Grace from the first book.

As usual, Oliver writes with her trademark lyrical prose with descriptions that flesh out both worlds and immerse you in your surroundings: “The moon beats down on the switchback paths cut in the hill, tawny-colored and dry, as though steeped in old blood.” I also appreciate the depth to her writing and how each main character is fleshed out and multi-dimensional. Even Hana, whom you would think would be flat after getting the cure, isn’t.

My only complaint about Requiem was that there was a lot more cursing than the previous books which just felt a bit overdone and unnecessary. It was a minor distraction in an otherwise perfect story line. Another thing I wasn’t happy with was the ending. It doesn’t tie everything up the way I would want it to and SCREAMS “PLEASE WRITE A 4th BOOK!!!” However, it still was satisfying enough, if this truly is the end.

In summary, Requiem was a fabulous conclusion (but maybe not…?? book number 4?? please?) to the Delirium series of books. I highly recommend you get it as soon as it’s available and see for yourself what happens to Lena! You’re in for a great read.

Now for the MOM part of the review:

Because of various reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this series to younger kids. Of course each family/individual will want to make the decision about whether it’s appropriate or not based on their family’s values and beliefs. Here are some possibly objectionable items. Warning: there may be a few small spoilers, but nothing major, in the following details:

  • There is quite a bit of cursing: variations of f*ck, sh*t, bullsh*t, bastard, g*dd*mn, b*tch, hell – I marked 23 incidents of bad words used in my copy (but may not have marked them all). There was enough cursing that I was distracted and irritated by it. It was totally unecessary, in my opinion.
  • There is some romance in the book. Please note that this is not a tawdry romance novel, but there is a love interest “triangle” (similar to what you would find in something like The Hunger Games). It is not the main focus of the book, but teens are going to be rooting one way or the other and as you can see in the main part of my review above, I mention that fact FIRST because it’s what I’ve read in a multitude of comments about next book. Kids want to know who Lena ends up with. While there is no mush, the entire book serie’s premise is what if society took away your emotions with a procedure? What if you couldn’t feel love (and similar feelings)? Lena is a character who is fighting against the government that’s instituted this. It fits that she would be experiencing the ups and downs of loving someone herself and seeing that it’s not always so easy or wonderful. But is it worth it to erase it in order to not feel the painful and ugly parts?
    If your kids are pursing courtship or not dating, this may not be a book you want him/her to read.
  • You have characters that are paired up and even sleeping together. It never says they are having sex, but rather that they “curl up and go to sleep spooned together”, etc. There is never anything explicit, but a kiss that occurred in the past is described in detail: “And he had pressed his body against mine – he was so thin then, tall and skinny and tan – and I had let him slide his hands around my wast, under my shirt and he had leaned down and pressed his lips against mine, opened my mouth with his tongue.” That comment is from the character Hana remembering an incident before her “cure” that left her devoid of most emotions. I believe that is the most descriptive passage like that in the entire book.
  • There is mention of violence, but no gore
  • One of the characters is seemingly sadistic. He pinches the inner arm of a girl and makes threats. He’s apparently arranged for his previous wife to be locked away in a prison for “questioning” him.

So, there are some items that may be of concern to some families. I’m NOT handing it over to my 14 year old, but as an adult, I enjoyed the philosophical questions that are woven throughout this series. Hopefully my review will help you decide if it’s something you want your teens to read (or not)!

I received a free advance reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review! (Lucky me, LOL!)

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