I finished Requiem last week! Here’s the review I wrote about it on Goodreads:
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
After reading any Oliver book, I always feel like I’m about to burst or explode so right now, let me just say the things I must say:
First, I will forever love Lauren Oliver. I still think of her as an amazing writer. The thing that’s best about her is that she always catches us off guard. Her writing is always surprising and exciting. Totally unpredictable. And I think, with Requiem, Oliver’s purpose is not to indulge us, not to give us what we want but give us a justifiable close to the series.
In Pandemonium, we are left with a huge cliffhanger: Alex is back. Just when Lena finds a new love, her old love returns. I think this is one of the major internal conflicts for Lena, her feelings both Julian and Alex. At one point, she compares herself to the baby in the Story of Solomon. I thought that was a really perfect metaphor. I really understood Lena’s confusion because, as usual, the author was able to relay it perfectly. Honestly, I was alway for Alex, but I saw how hard it was for Lena to choose between them especially when Julian was such a perfect gentleman. Julian was always there for her, always comforting her, always trying to get to her. But, as aloof as Alex was throughout most of the book, you cannot help but feel ecstatic when Alex and Lena shared even just the smallest moment together. Aside from the love triangle, one of Lena’s constant thoughts was whether this was what she really wanted. She wanted freedom but is all the fight, the struggle, the pain she’s putting up with worth it? I think it’s an important question to ask especially for a dystopian book like this one.
One of the things that surprised me, early in the book, was that Hana’s point of view was included. The novel was split in to the two ex-bestfriend’s storyline, alternating for each chapter. Hana is to marry the future mayor of the town and although her life is lived in ease and luxury, she finds herself uncomfortable and restless all the time because of the guilt that’s eating her up. Several times, I found myself detached and uninterested when reading Hana. But further into Hana’s story, I began to relate to her especially when she started doubting. I think Hana’s ending was okay although like Lena’s, it was nonconclusive. I can’t help but think that maybe the novel would’ve been better if it was told only in Lena’s point of view, so that we saw more of Lena’s emotions and maybe had more questions answered. But yeah, that’s just a nagging thought. I think it was really unique of Oliver to show not only the resisting side, but also the controlled side of the system.
We got to meet new characters in Pandemonium, what with Lena forming new alliances in the Wilds, and here we see them again and meet new ones too. But we also experience many heartbreaking deaths. We experience traitorship too. The pace of the story is still as roaring fast as before and although everything Is hurried and the characters move on from one death to another, you can’t help but feel the loss of each character. You can’t help but think what could’ve happen if they didn’t die. For every death, you feel like a weight is added to your shoulder and now, I realize that it is Lena’s weight. It is the heaviness and darkness that had begun to manifest in her because of the many losses she has experienced. And although this is depressing to think about, I think this is also what pushes Lena forward. Instead of letting it drag her down, she continues to fight it and she continues to grow stronger.
The ultimate message of the book: “Take down the walls.” Lauren Oliver leaves us with an inspiring, hopeful open-ended monologue and yes, it is a beautiful conclusion to the book. Emphasis on beautiful, because it is ‘t really much of a conclusion, in my opinion. There are so many questions yet to be answered and here we are left with nothing, because this is the end of it. It is disappointing to have come such a long way and never really be sure whether the walls will be taken down or whether Lena ever finds out if her fight was worth it and who her heart really belongs to. All we can really do is hope and hope and hope and maybe despite the unconventional finale, this is what Lauren intends for us to realize.