Book Review: ‘Requiem’ (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Image Credit: Lauren Oliver)

This is a review for the third book in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series. You can read my review for Delirium here and for the second book, Pandemonium, here. This review will likely contain spoilers for the first two books.

I don’t envy authors tasked with writing last books in a series. It has to be daunting trying to find a way to write the story you want to write while balancing the expectations of readers who have invested so much time and energy into the characters and the outcome of the story. Maybe as a result of this empathy, I had mixed feelings when I started reading Requiem – a combined sense of optimism and dread – that carried with me through most of the book. That’s not to say the book itself caused me dread; that was all my own doing! I’ll try to explain.

At the end of Pandemonium, a lot of things happen very quickly. Most notably, Lena finds out that Alex, the boy she loved and who inspired her escape to the Wilds, is very alive – a major shock to her. When we pick up in Requiem, it’s just a few days later and Lena’s back to wandering the Wilds with Raven, Tack and the whole gang of rebels from book 2. Julian and Alex are also there, and boy is that awkward! As the group debates what course of action to take, they begin to realize that the government is taking more drastic action against invalids, spreading their control into the previously unregulated Wilds.

To throw a new twist into the mix, Lena’s chapters are alternated with chapters from Hana’s perspective. I’m sure you remember Hana – Lena’s beautiful, effervescent best friend from the first book. Hana’s back in Portland and has been matched with a Senator. We follow along with her in the weeks leading up to her wedding as struggles to accustom to her new life as a cured. During this process, she uncovers some disturbing secrets about her future husband.

The first thing I noticed about this book is something I noticed with Pandemonium as well – the pacing begins very slow and steady. Things happen, but it’s drawn out in such a way that you’re kind of wondering how anything is ever going to come to a climax. Then, before you know it, you’re two thirds of the way through and you have no idea how the book could address all the loose ends before the last page. That’s when, rather abruptly, literally EVERYTHING happens at once and it’s fast and furious and then it’s done.

I think that for me, this type of pacing is actually what contributed most to my optimism/dread issue. I had a lot of time to think about how unlikely it was that all these storylines could possibly wrap up in a way that wasn’t going to disappoint me, but then in the moments of climax I would get a sense of relief because I wasn’t disappointed. Ideally I like a little more consistency with pacing, but it’s certainly an effective way to build a sense of suspense (and possibly minor panic) as the ending of the book approaches.

At certain points in Requiem, I felt a bit of a disconnect with the rest of the series. Delirium was very much about Lena learning about love. In Pandemonium, it’s a combination of dealing with the implications of love and fighting for it. Requiem, to me, seemed to stray almost entirely away from the love piece for the majority of the book. Of course it comes up occasionally, but it seemed much less central to the plot, which instead focused more on fighting and survival. At first I found that to be kind of problematic. Yes, the Resistance is important, but isn’t love the whole reason for the Resistance?  Ultimately, though, I came around to it, because it ended up working really well as far as bringing closure to the story.

There are a lot of dystopian novels out there, and too often they try to take on too much. The reason Requiem, and ultimately the entire Delirium series, works comes down to the fact that Oliver focused so much on her characters and was able to find resolution amongst them without having to necessarily tie up every loose end. It can be tricky to complete a dystopian series, and I was impressed with how Oliver chose to finish Requiem. Clearly I had my doubts, but when it was all said and done I was not let down by the outcome of the series. Fans of the Delirium trilogy can rest assured that their questions will be answered and their beloved characters are treated respectfully in the final installment.

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