Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Maybe there's something about dystopian trilogies that decrees that the last book just won't live up to the first two. After seeing Ally Condie's originally awesome "Matched" series flounder in its final book, "Reached" (see earlier review), I reluctantly dismissed it as a fluke. I was really excited to see that "Requiem", the final installment of the "Delirium Trilogy" by Lauren Oliver, was being released a few days ago--like, holy-moly-can't-believe-it's-nearly-here-squeal-and-jump excited. The cliffhanger in the second book "Pandemonium" just had my heart pumping and jaw dropping, and I couldn't wait to see how things turned out. And they turned out... pretty disappointing. WHYYY??

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends--and Alex--are trying to survive in the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven--the rise of rebellions have made it impossible for the government to deny the existence of the Invalids, and Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels. As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life back in Portland as the new fiancee of the young mayor. But when dark secrets hidden behind painted faces and forced smiles begin to emerge, the girls know they have to do something before the government destroys love forever.

Every cloud has a silver lining, so I'll start off with the silvery good stuff first. "Requiem" is told from two different points of view: Lena's and Hana's. I quite liked the alternating chapters because you could really see the contrast in the former best friends' experiences and thoughts, and how the government and the rebellion were affecting the Invalids and the Cureds. It also created a little bit of tension, especially at the points when they both think or see or experience the same thing and you just see that little crafty connection they have between them.

And then there's the cloud. There really wasn't anything monumental happening in the book at all. Lena and her friends in the woods literally just walked through some trees, blew up some stuff... and that's it. Even Hana, who's stuck in the relatively safer, sheltered town, had a more exciting story with Fred the jerk and sneaking around and whatnot. There's just so much that could've happened in the Wilds--it's called the Wilds for heaven's sake!--but there wasn't anything that actually happened. At all. It felt like Ms. Oliver was just trying to wrap up things nice and tidy before the trilogy ended, but while it was nice to see some loose ends tied up, I didn't feel like there was much point to the storyline.

The characters themselves fell short of their potential, too. "Pandemonium" ended with a whopping cliffhanger (ALEEX!!!) and there was so much to work with there, but instead the whole love triangle between Lena, Alex and Julian (and Coral, I guess, so it's more of a square) fell flat. There was a fist fight here, jealous glares there, and that was it. Even in the end, with the final scene between Alex and Lena, I was just left flipping back and going, "That's it??" It was just so matter-of-fact and blunt and not exciting at all, which was how I felt about the plot as well.

Overall, "Requiem" was a disappointing ending to what could have been a great, unique trilogy about a dystopian society where love is considered a disease. I actually loved that concept, but in the end, it was just about trudging through woods to blow some stuff up...and done. It's just such a bummer because there's some great potential for some action-packed, fast-paced rebellion and emotion. I'd probably recommend reading the first two books in the "Delirium" trilogy, but I'm just not very sure with the last.

Rating: 2/5

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