Saturday, March 16, 2013

On Breaking Walls: A Review of Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium, #3)After finishing this book, I gave myself a full twenty-four hours before I started to compose my review (an excessive amount of thought gathering time for me). I wanted to make sure that I wrote this from my brain and not just from my gut, which felt hallow with disappointment at the end of this novel. When I finished Delirium, I had some basic issues with the story, but over all I felt that this author had some new and interesting things to say on the subject of teen love and relationships in general. With Pandemonium, I was very impressed with her ability to write internal dialogue and the character development that Lena undergoes. The only thing there that frustrated and let me down was the ending, which I honestly should have seen coming. Even that highly questionable ending, I still held out hope that Requiem would prove me right about this series, that it would draw the story together, end in a satisfying manner, and say all of the big and meaningful things I wanted this series to say. It did not. It didn't even come close.

Requiem continually switches point of view between Lena and Hana. Lena has returned to the Wilds with Julian. Her relationship with Julian and Alex is uncertain, and I'll save you some time--she never resolves her feelings. She goes all Bella Swan and hops back to Julian whenever Alex appears to be shunning her, only unlike Bella she never conclusively makes a choice. My opinion of Lena plummeted throughout this book, in part due to the love triangle issues and in part due to her utter inability to do anything useful. Hana, on the other hand, has been cured and is living a seemingly safe and charmed life, engaged to the soon-to-be mayor. I found Hana's story more interesting than I thought I would. Her conflict over whether she has lost herself after being cured--can she still feel, can she still dream, does she want to?--is thoughtful. She quickly discovers that the life that is expected of her will likely be miserable.

In terms of character development this book fails almost entirely. Instead of progressing forward, getting stronger, gaining clarity, Lena remains stagnant and perhaps even regresses a bit. Not only does she not manage to choose between the two boys who inexplicably have feelings for her, but she fails at every turn to step up and take action.

In terms of plot, well, there isn't a lot of it. I find that I'm often disappointed with how dystopian series end, because the world so often fails to undergo the radical transformation that I want to see happen. They tend to end on a barely hopeful note, and I always feel like there is so much more to the story, like we've stopped in the middle. That's how I felt with this book. Like there should be at least one more book, and of course there isn't.

More than anything, when I finished this book, I felt bad about having looked forward to it and bad about having recommended the first two. I can't imagine ever wanting to return to this series, ever rereading this book, or ever recommending it to anyone again. Obviously, if you've read the first two, you're going to read this one. In the case that you haven't read this series, and you think you might want to, I would gently caution you that it's very unsatisfying. 2 stars.

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