Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA, dystopia, biopunk, romance
Publication Date: March 5, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: 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. 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.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – a great ending to a great series, but really ambiguous.
Review: I really don’t know how to feel about this ending. Technically, all areas of this book are pretty much flawless, but I’m torn with this very open ending. On the one hand, we as the audience are given the choice to mentally continue Lena and the Resistance’s adventures on our own, but on the other, there isn’t that much solid closure in terms of the resolution area of the novel. Regardless, this was a thrilling read, one I couldn’t put down until the end. I’m glad I waited to read “Pandemonium” until I was able to get a galley of “Requiem” – otherwise, the wait might have killed me. In a very fitting, ambiguous ending to the “Delirium” trilogy, “Requiem” is quite the busy bee of a book, and will keep you riveted until the last page – regardless of how you feel about the ending.
Since the technical areas were so flawless here, I’ll spend my time talking about how I feel about all of the developments (plot-wise) in this book and how it feels as an ending.
I think at the end of “Pandemonium”, we were all a little shaken up by all of the developments, as well as the return of Alex. Disappointingly, here comes the love triangle, and I wasn’t really too excited about that (I’ve had more than I can stomach), but I was hoping that Oliver would do something with it, turn it into a metaphor in which we can see which life Lena will choose. She did that. Kind of. The Alex that returns to Lena’s part of the Resistance is utterly changed from the sweet, caring boy we knew from book one. He’s now very damaged, very angry, and trying to channel his anger by doing what he can in the resistance. Meanwhile, Julian is still rather soft and green when it comes to experiences with the resistance – much like Lena was at the start of “Pandemonium”. So now, a love triangle, and Lena between the two – with one angry boy that seems to hate her, and one naive boy who’s head over heels for her.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Alex is Lena’s future, and Julian is Lena’s past (and we see how this theory comes to pass towards the end of the book in terms of who Lena chooses). How does this work, you ask? Julian is the hopeful, idealistic Lena we see at the end of “Delirium” and the start of “Pandemonium”. He is, in all purposes, literally her past self in boy form. And then there’s Alex – forged in fire with a renewed passion to fight society, with all of his softness, ideals, and, well, love stripped away. Lena is her current self, not sure where to go, or how her own future will turn out. It took me a long time to process why Oliver inserted a love triangle in the first place, and this seemed like the most likely reason. It’s useful as a plot device, useful to keep the tension flowing easily throughout the book until the end. It keeps us on our seats – which boy will she choose? But think about it. These two boys are her past and future selves – which self does she want to return to? Angry, realistic, and thirsty for revenge? Or idealistic? Can Alex heal himself enough to come back to love Lena – which means, can Lena heal enough to love herself and stop blaming herself for Alex’s pain? I think it’s a very interesting use of a love triangle, and possibly one of the more creative uses of one to date within YA.
Aside from the love triangle, the awesome thing about “Requiem” is that it holds nothing back. There’s a lot of chills, thrills, and spills – and explosions. LOTS of explosions. And not just emotional, but literal ones, too. The teenage boy in me was very happy about that bit. We also get to see the return of Hana, which is also a connection to Lena and the possible key to her future. Abstract? Possibly so. But if you read it, I think you’ll see what I mean. Even though Hana’s been cured, she still desires something more than she has now. Which with the cure, you’re not really supposed to want. Hana is the future Lena might have had, and one could say is the middle ground between Julian, Alex, and the current Lena in the Resistance. She’s both at once the opposite and the same as the current Lena – not sure what to do, what/who to choose. She’s a brilliant mirror used on Oliver’s part to reflect this huge dilemma that Lena’s facing, as well as Hana herself. By using all of these characters as different metaphors and plot devices as well as this non-stop action, I think that Oliver really opens up the trilogy (and the accompanying novellas) to all genders, and not just the female audience base that “Delirium” seems to primarily have. I’m hoping the upcoming TV show does the same.
Basically, one could say that “Requiem” is the great equalizer of the trilogy. It grieves for the past and the present, and has cautious hope for the future. There is a lot of hurt, a lot of loss, but at the same time, a lot of healing that gets squeezed in toward the end, making us wonder – is this society that seems all too possible able to come back from the brink of going completely post-human? Which makes me wonder if Oliver is making us ask ourselves can our current society, with our obsession with everything digital and forward thinking, do the same? Can we become human – that is, go at a slower rate, think, write letters, call people on the phone, and love again? Is there a benefit from continuing to reach for the post-human ideal? It warns us of such a terrible future, but also says that there’s always, always hope left if we just have the courage to keep breaking down the walls between us. So many philosophical issues are brought up in this trilogy, but most of all in “Requiem”.
Final verdict? While this one is not easy reading (or light reading, to say the least), the very ambiguous, open end of “Requiem” is just what the doctor ordered for this trilogy. Looking back on it, I don’t see any other real ending working for it (even as maddening as it may be). But that’s just how I see it. “Requiem” and the companion book with all three novellas, “Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, and Raven” will be out March 5, 2013 from HarperTeen in North America, so definitely be sure to check it out then! Definitely one of the best of 2013 so far.