**As this is the third book in the series, this review may have some SPOILERS for those that have not read Delirium (my review) or Pandemonium (my review)- the first two books in the series. I would recommend reading them before reading this book. Actually if you read this review there would be SOME MAJOR SPOILERS for those books**
So I was nervous and excited and scared and happy and nervous when I opened this book on the train ride home from the event. And in all honesty, I did not expect any of the events that happen at all.
Synopsis: After rescuing Julian from being killed and the surprising arrival of Alex - someone Lena thought was dead, Lena and her friends have escaped back into the Wilds. But the Wilds are not as safe as they used to be as the government have admitted to the presence of Invalids, something they denied for so long. The Wilds are full to the brim of regulators and patrols around every corner, ordered to kill as many rebels as possible. Lena's ground are part of a large resistance moving closer and closer to a wider rebellion. Meanwhile, Lena's best friend from her old life, Hana is being forced into marriage with Portland's new mayor, Fred. She's safe and without love after receiving the cure but there are darker, dangerous things happened even within a life that is considered safe.
Review: Well. I just...there are too many thoughts and feelings that I have for this book that there is no way I can decide on one significant definite thought.
I mean I really liked it and I think it was a good end to this series, I liked how it ended full circle especially. But there is something about it I wasn't expecting, that I feel disappointed by, and I can't quite put my finger on what that is.
The novel starts a few days after Pandemonium finishes with this lovely reunion that had me smiling to myself on the train. But there's this conflict, this underlying feeling I had that something would go terribly wrong quite soon. There's also the whole Julian versus Alex thing because they're both THERE, RIGHT THERE with Lena. I mean Alex, I liked him in Delirium but there were times when I just wanted to punch him in the face after his reaction in Pandemonium. I mean seriously, you're gone for months and you're annoyed Lena left you because she thought you were dead? Please.
Alex is a certainly a changed character, he's harsh, quiet with this fierce intensity that I found a little disturbing at times. It's clear something major has happened while he's been away from Lena (especially as last time we saw him he was thought to be dead). Then there's Julian, who I have to admit is my favourite of the guys. Lovely, lovely Julian, ever the gentleman. However, there's something changed about him also since we last saw the naive, quietly rebelling young man in Pandemonium - he's turned into someone whose grown up, taken chances, trying to fit in with those around him while being kind of ignored by the girl he fled to the Wilds for. In a sentence, at the beginning, things aren't perfect.
Unlike the other books in the series, REQUIEM is split between two narrators: Lena in the Wilds and Hana, who is living still in Portland preparing to get married to the newly appointed mayor, Fred Hargrove. I think I liked Pandemonium more than Delirium because of the way it explores the more political, underground mysteries and operations that lead to some major discoveries. Similarly, we get that from Hana's narrative. She's in this supposedly safe atmosphere yet there is something deeply sinister happening in Portland and especially, something sinister about Fred (another character who I wanted to punch). I guess what I'm saying is that I preferred the domestic setting in Portland more than the one in the Wilds. Hana was a character that I loved and wanted more page-time with in Delirium so I like that Oliver chose her as a narrator for REQUIEM. I felt sympathy for her situation and for her, even if she does behave a little spoilt at times. It kind of puts it all into perspective in a way that while Lena is fighting to be free to love, Hana is forced into a marriage arranged by the government, wanting to be free of Fred.
Unlike Pandemonium, REQUIEM has quite a slow pace with the main actions only happening the last 100 pages or so. There isn't really a definite plot until that moment. I think it's that which makes my reaction to this book not as like 'WOW'. It's really Hana's narrative that made me want to read on and on, with a faster pace particularly compared to Lena's. In a perfect world, I think the book would have been better with a faster pace but I always had this feeling throughout Lena's narrative that Oliver was building up to this huge climatic event throwing some hints, clues and a bunch of surprises throughout. I've become used to Oliver's eloquent, lyrical language that is webbed into the main narrative and it is lovely and everything...but I have trouble reading that kind of lingo. I'm like 'Ah, that's so vivid' and everything but I don't really know, I just don't remember it (?) or totally overlook it and within the next page I'm like 'Whoa, what just happened?'. It's confusing and this may just be good old me, but yeah. I had trouble reading and concentrating on the text. GAH.
I can't sign off without mentioning the ending. Yes in some ways it is disappointing, not what many expect but SERIOUSLY, I LOVED THE ENDING. When I went to the Lauren Oliver event, she talked about how she started writing fan fiction when she was younger because she never wanted the stories to end, she wanted the characters to be alive even after finishing the book. And knowing that, it's why I like the ending. Yes, it is ambiguous and open-ended. Yes, you have no idea what the final conclusion to Lena's story is. But you have some idea what it is in those last fleeting few pages. I'm sure my take on the ending is unique to me and that is the beauty of REQUIEM's ending - everyone has their own interpretation, everyone can imagine what happens after the book finishes, everyone still remembers Lena, Alex, Julian and the others. That is a real (and quite daring) skill and something that worked perfectly in my opinion.
This was a book I was thoroughly looking forward to and mostly it did not disappoint especially the ending. I quite liked the suddenness of it all, the secrets that are slowly but surely drawn out from the characters and the cinematic feel of the last few chapters. There are some emotional, heart-wrenching scenes as Hana and Lena's narratives converge into one another and some beautifully crafted moments that lead to a powerful and uplifting ending. Lauren Oliver, I have to raise a glass to you. I may have no idea of what I truly thought about this book in particular, but overall, this series has been superb. Well done.
I give it a 4 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/
Review: Delirium (#1)
Review: Pandemonium (#2)
Review: Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver Event