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RequiemReview - Requiem
by Lauren Oliver
Harper Audio, 2013
Review by Christian Perring
Jun 18th 2013 (Volume 17, Issue 25)

Requiem is the third and final novel in Lauren Oliver's Delirium dystopian trilogy for young adults.  Teenaged Lena grew up in a world where romantic love was classified as a disease.  The authorities gave teenagers operations to prevent them from ever experiencing romantic love.  Now she has committed herself to a revolution that will overthrow the government and its insidious interference into people's personal lives.  Lena has had her own experience of romance, falling in love with two boys, and now she is living in a camp with both of them.  They don't talk to each other, but there is a tension between them.  Ultimately, Lena will have to make a choice. 

There is a second narrator to his novel; another teenaged girl, Hana.  She lives a conventional life, and is engaged to be married, before she had the "cure" operation.  Hanas's chapters alternate with Lena's, and this gives us a contrast of the world inside the city, Portland, Maine, and outside the boundaries where the rebels are making plans.  This alternation breaks up the narrative, but Hana's life is rather dull, which reduces the energy of the plot.  There are some interesting themes and clearly author Lauren Oliver is particularly interested in highlighting the ways that the narrative of normality ends up being inconsistent, showing the cracks caused by the tensions of the underlying less pleasant truth.  But we already went through this in the first novel of the trilogy, and Oliver's writing was better then because Lena's discovery of the truth was more shocking. 

So there's a suspicion that Oliver was running short of ideas when she got to this final novel in the series.  The plot unfurls in rather formulaic ways forced on it given the structure of what has happened so far: the band o rebels against the government forces, facing impossible odds, fighting for freedom.  That, and the romance of one girl torn between two boys. The saving grace of the novel is that Oliver's writing from paragraph to paragraph is consistently strong, with a strong sense of the poetic.  Reader reviews at Amazon.com are distinctly less enthusiastic about this novel, and it is easy to see why.  The performance of the unabridged audiobook by Sarah Drew brings out the strengths of the writing, putting energy into the words.

 

Links

Review of Delirium

Review of Pandemonium

 

© 2013 Christian Perring        

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


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