Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver (NO SPOILERS)

Requiem by Lauren Oliver Book Title/Author: Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Publisher/Year
: HarperTeen March 2013
Genre: Dystopian YA
Series: Yes. It is the last book in the series — Delirium is book 1 and Pandemonium is book 2.
Other Books From Author: Before I Fall, Liesel & Po, The Spindlers

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I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

Requiem picks up a few days after Pandemonium ends. Alex has joined Lena’s group and things are tense between them and with Julian and Lena struggles with her feelings and the coldness of Alex towards her. The group is in the wilds and trying to figure out where the best place for them to go next as the Wilds become more dangerous. Things are also tense between the resistance and the government and the regulators are stepping up their attempts to silence the Invalids and a fight is brewing. Requiem alternates between Lena and the dangerous Wilds and Hana who is cured, matched up and getting ready for her wedding — to the powerful mayor of Portland.

I’m almost ready to sob as I write this. This is not at all what I wanted for the ending of a beloved series that I’ve raved about. I did not want to write anything less than a glowing review. But alas, Requiem just completely was a let down for me personally. I feel like you are going to either LOVE this one or HATE it. So…let’s get into it.

There were some great things about Requiem. I loved the alternating chapters between Lena and Hana — this contrast between cured and uncured and the life within the walls and the life outside the walls in the Wilds was intriguing and just perfect. It was such a great contrast and I honestly really enjoyed Hana and her perspective and she became my favorite  to follow. The other thing? I was not sold on Julian in Pandemonium but in Requiem I just completely fell in love with him. I did. He grew and adapted to the Wilds and he was just a sweetheart. I loved getting to know him more. And as always, Lauren’s writing is exquisite. She knows how to write it all — tension (Alex and Lena..AHH. That tension was thick), tender moments and HUGE scenes where you can’t turn the page fast enough. I was happy to be back in this fascinating world that Lauren Oliver has created and snuggled in with her beautiful writing.

Let’s talk about the two things that let me down. The second one being the biggest factor.

1) The storyline of Requiem itself: I have to be honest…it took me quite a bit to get into this one. I was bored and almost put it down which was strange because I couldn’t read the first two fast enough. I guess I just expected a bit more action as we are left finishing Pandemonium feeling breathless from the events happening between the resistance and DFA. We could tell it was getting more and more tense and the air was charged with danger. You could tell something big was going to down. For the first half of this book, that feeling was lost on me. Lena and her crew are just moving around trying to find a place to go and, yes, there are THINGS that happen but I never felt that sense of OH MAN SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN until halfway through or so. The suspense and that constricting feeling in my chest because I know something big was going to happen…just NOT THERE. And Lena. I really loved her through the series but really just was bothered by her in this one. I know LOVE is a crazy thing and it doesn’t always make sense but I just don’t love how she treated Julian. That’s all I’m going to say. And truly, Hana’s chapters were way more interesting to me than what was going on with Lena and company.

2) The ending: I just can’t even process. Let’s just start out with the fact that this book ends with one of the most beautiful paragraphs I have ever read. It was lovely. I just wish I wasn’t so mad so that I could have enjoyed it more. So I’m reading and I’m noticing the thinning of pages in my right hand and thought about where we were in the story and I honestly thought I MUST be missing pages. There is NO WAY that this could wrap up with this many pages left. The ending was rushed for me. It was like FINALLY things are happening but it all went so fast. And then we get to the ending and I’m like ARE YOU SERIOUS? THIS IS HOW IT ENDS? Really?? I’m not one of those  people who needs a happy ending nor needs the author to do EXACTLY what I want…but I needed something from this. There was little resolution, I had so many questions and it was just rushed. I was not satisfied at all for a series I loved with my whole heart and was so invested in. I knew that Lauren would take risks but this is not what I had in mind when I think of what a brilliant writer she is. I mean, yes, there was truth to the ending and you felt a little bit of hope that they will have the chance to choose love in all of its messy glory and that maybe things will change…but just no…I didn’t FEEL anything. I felt gypped and was not feeling fond of Lena at the end.

All in all, Requiem was pretty much a disappointment for me which is sad because I LOVED this series so hard and recommended it so often. It kind of taints the series for me now between the less than exciting plot, how Lena acts in Requiem and a rushed ending that didn’t seem like much of an ending at all for people who devoted so much time to loving this series. I’m not a person who needs a happy and perfect ending or for the author to do what I want but I just expected something more to be honest. If you had lukewarm feelings for this series as it was, I’d say just ask someone what the ending is. If you have loved the series through and through, I say finish it and I will be crossing my fingers you feel more satisfied than I did with this book. I AM DEVASTATED RIGHT NOW. But that last paragraph was BEAUTIFUL. Oh, and Hana pretty much ROCKS my world.

 

Other Series You May LikeUnder the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Through the Ever Night – book 2- was AMAZING!), Matched by Ally Condie, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Eve by Anna Carey

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Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? What did you think or am I just the odd man out who was disappointed?? I am just so, so sad because I expected to be blown away. What did you think of the ending? Did it work for you?

Mini Reviews: Wedding Madness Edition

So I’ve been trying to catch up on my backlog of reviews but I just don’t have motivation AT ALL. So today you are going to get two mini reviews from me from two books I read during wedding planning/on the honeymoon and honestly I feel like I can’t write a whole review at this point so you’ll just get my general thoughts!

 

9593911Pandemonium by Lauren  Oliver: This is the sequel to Delirium and I’m super excited to read Pandemonium, the final book in the trilogy, soon! I mean, you remember how excited I was when it showed up here? I know there was a lot of dissension (mostly Julian related) amongst lovers of this series and this book but I really enjoyed it. It was so much more of a page-turner for me than Delirium was to be honest.   I loved learning more about the  Wilds and what happened to Lena after escaping. Lots of interesting characters were  introduced and I loved them! I really loved the way this one was set up as each chapter switched back and from between right after she escaped to where she was at the present. Lena’s story in the Wilds is definitely a lot more gritty and raw than in Delirium. It was an interesting contrast to me and quite the action packed, emotional one. Oh and Lauren Oliver just LOVES to slay you with her endings apparently as this one left me sputtering and squealing though I think in my head I knew it was coming.

10429092The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson: I don’t read a TON of fantasy so I’m very new to the genre for sure but I LOVED this one. I read this while on the honeymoon while sitting poolside and sipping drinks with fancy pancy umbrellas in them. This book definitely made me want to read more fantasy books because I was on the edge of my very slippery-from-tanning-oil pool lounger. There was lots of action and some pretty epic moments of battles and tense scenes. I was a little wary of Elisa at first because she was so whiny and WOE IS ME and never did anything but I grew to love her and cheered for her kickass-ness and growth in many parts of this book! ALSO, loved that there was a love story in this book but that it didn’t take away from the story and wasn’t the center of it. As a child I loved books about princesses and castles and battles and now I’m all OMG OLD JAMIE DOES TOOO! I’m definitely excited to read book 2 soon and will be hoping to read more straight up fantasy novel in the future!

Have you read either of these? Love them? Dislike them? Tell me why!

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Short But Sweet Summary: In the future, love is considered a deadly disease and must be controlled. A cure has been developed and a procedure is mandated to all upon high school graduation. Lena has been counting down the days until she can be cured…until she allows herself to become infected with this deliria and has the inability to see things the way they once were.

This was one of my most anticipated books for 2011 and I started feeling a wee bit nervous as glowing reviews started coming out. I could feel the Hype Monster breathing down my neck so I didn’t pick it up right away. I try not to let myself to be swept away too much into the hype of a book and keep myself grounded while I begin to read it. I want to allow myself to experience the book without the echos of its proclaimed greatness weighing heavily on my mind.

I’m going to be honest here — in the beginning of this book I was feeling like the Hype Monster had struck again.  I was finding myself bored with Lena and not really connecting with her. I was feeling like I didn’t want to be in her head anymore and that she was just falling real flat for me. I also was growing a little bit weary from predicting everything that was going to happen and from a whole slew of info about the world that didn’t even satisfy my curiosity.

BUT THEN…

I found myself completely and utterly immersed in Oliver’s prose and even feeling invested wholly in Lena’s life and her growth without even knowing it. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been in the ocean for a while and you begin to walk out to return to your spot on the beach…only to realize you’ve drifted a half a mile down the beach without even realizing it…(and if you are anything like me…you end up walking aimlessly and awkwardly trying to find your towel). This is how I felt. Oliver’s flowing and beautiful prose became a current that ever so slightly tugged at my being until I found myself so swept up in the story without even realizing it…awestruck and completely enthralled by the beauty and profundity of these words.  The predictability lessened for me as Oliver delivered some twists that left my mouth gaping open wide enough to catch flies. I grew to feel fond of Lena, despite the fact that there still seemed to be nothing particularly stand-out about her.

The ending. Oh the ending. Let’s just say the waterworks were comparable to my experience reading If I Stay. What a cliffhanger of an ending and a hell of a last paragraph. Strong and haunted me all night as I contemplated Lena some more. The idea of love as a disease was chilling the more I thought about it. Love is one of those abstract ideas that you never really seem to be able to peg down but the absence and loss of it is oppressive. It’s complex, it’s beautiful, it can hurt like hell…but it is altogether a human experience. I think Oliver painted that picture so well…the characters languidly shuffling through life…deprived of the ability to really feel something. I remember rolling my eyes a little bit at the “insta-love” that seemed to be building between Lena and Alex based on nothing that I could see. But then I thought about it..and it made quite a bit of sense to me based on the fact that for the first time in her life she let herself really feel something.

My only gripe with the book that stayed put was the world-building. I wanted more. I did. I’m selfish and I wanted to really understand more of the history of HOW love suddenly was declared a disease and some of the finer details. I wasn’t always totally sold on the world based on what I had to work with but I’m hoping that perhaps more of this will be addressed in the next book.

My final thought: Delirium is one of those beautifully written books that will captivate you with its emotional intensity and leave you reeling until the final pages. I can’t say it is devoid of flaws — namely the world building and the clunky start for me– but I found myself unable to stop thinking about this book after reading it. I cannot wait to find out what lies ahead for this new and strong Lena. I can’t even begin to imagine what Oliver has up her sleeves but I know this for sure–it’s going to contain more dazzling prose…because that just seems to be how Oliver rolls.

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