Requiem by Lauren Oliver

requiem lauren oliver

“Take down the walls.

That is, after all, the whole point. You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise, or destruction.

Take down the walls.”

 Requiem, the conclusion to the Delirium Series, was everything I was hoping for and maybe even a little bit more. It had been some time since I had read the first two novels of the series (Delirium and Pandemonium) so I had forgotten to some extent how enjoyable Oliver’s writing style is and the elegant way is which she told the story of Lena. However, after working my way through the first few chapters I was reminded and remembered why I had enjoyed the first two books so much.

Oliver puts the finishing touches to the story of Lena in Requiem, but also concludes so much more that became paramount in her series, including the stories of Alex, Julian, Raven and Tack, the revolution for love and the life and individuals that Lena left behind in Portland. As with so many series in Teen fiction a love triangle is front and center, but where Requiem maintains its distinctiveness is the fact that this love triangle is a broken one, one that is unreciprocated and yet continuously present. Where the first two books were often about the thrilling joy of falling in love, for much of this novel it is the sharp rebuttal of love that Lena experiences most. But the story moves far beyond Lena and comes to encompass the struggle of countless people who have been forced outside of “civilized” society because of their disease and are now fighting to make a claim for freedom and to once more see their basic needs met.

One of the elements that was unexpected but became a favorite aspect of the book for me was the switching back and forth between Lena and Hana being the narrator from one chapter to the next. It provided a juxtaposing comparison of two lives that were supposed to be so completely different due to their surroundings and yet in many ways, were very similar. Hana was such a pivotal character in the first novel and while Oliver does offer a more detailed glimpse of her story in Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel & Raven (which I have yet to read unfortunately) I was grateful to see Hana’s storyline being told to completion in this book as well. The story comes full circle in many ways and I thought the way Oliver touched on their friendship towards the end was a clever way of giving the reader something they might not have necessarily expected, but which was essential to having a sense of closure.

Closure was something else that I thought Oliver did well in this novel. Quite often I find myself disappointed or angry when I feel an author has not provided sufficient closure at the end of a book, even more so if that book is finishing a series. Many might feel that Oliver did just that with Requiem, but I can honestly say that I was content with the ending. In many ways the lives of the main characters remain unfinished and you’re not quite sure if the “happy ending” they were looking for will actually be achieved. You can’t help but think that for some characters it won’t be. But looking back over the series I feel as though Oliver maintained a certain theme through all three books; to live in the present. Whether that was fighting for the future, or refusing to fall to the memories of the past, so many of the events in the books stressed living in the present, because the past was unchangeable and the future would be created from the actions taking place at that very moment. Things were constantly changing, people who Lena thought she knew reappeared as strangers and things were rarely what they seemed. With that in mind, I thought it was rather appropriate for Oliver to leave the stories of the characters so open-ended by implying that this story had concluded, but more would follow. Maybe there’s even a possibility for another novel or series, but time will tell.

Oliver’s Requiem was a fitting conclusion to her Delirium series that was written with a simplicity that made it beautiful to read. While on the surface a book about love being viewed as a disease might seem whimsical, all three novels touched on elements of a far more serious nature: personal freedom, discrimination, family and friends torn apart by prejudice. Those who found themselves outside of acceptable social expectations became outcasts, quite literally refugees in their own land. Oliver succeeded in including just enough harshness to make what might have been a fluffy teenage love story into something with more complexity and edge. If you haven’t read the Delirium series, I highly recommend you do by starting at the beginning with Delirium. Enjoy the ride!

Devon – athousandbooklife

Other books by Lauren Oliver: Before I Fall (2010), Delirium (2011), Liesl and Po (2011), Pandemonium (2012), The Spindlers (2012) and Delirium Stories: Hana, Anabel & Raven (2013)


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