REQUIEM • Lauren Oliver
This is a sequel, there will be Delirium & Pandemonium spoilers. Don’t read the review if you haven’t read the first two books!
I was disappointed by this book. I thought the trilogy was on an upward trajectory, the second book being an improvement on the first, but this fell flat. Most of the characters fail to stand out. They’re like ghosts. Cardboard cutouts of people. Nothing happens until about 120 pages into the story. There’s a lot of description of nature that seems to exist only as filler. There’s no real resolution at the end, which sometimes isn’t necessary, but here seems set up only to deliver a preachy message.
Here is a problem I have with the trilogy as a whole: the premise is never explained. Again, the explanation of love as a disease—who decided this, what are the accepted symptoms, how does the cure actually work, what emotions does it actually block out, what emotions that stem from love are tangentially blocked out—all this doesn’t need to be clarified in scientific terms, but I need to feel that the author knows all these things, that she knows where she’s going with the story. I need to trust in her authority. And the way the author can gain my trust is by relaying this explanation through the characters, through the ways they think and feel and interact.
Did anyone else notice that there is absolutely no difference between the thoughts and behaviors of the cured and the invalids? Sure, the only cured whose POV we get is Hana’s and she has doubts regarding the success of her cure. But if the difference between the cured and the invalids is the basis for the main conflict of the trilogy, shouldn’t we be able to see the difference? Maybe it just went over my head. Hana tells us her thoughts are clearer now, but that’s all the distinction we get.
I’m not even sure what “love” means in the context of this trilogy. Does the word refer only to romantic love? Lust? If I recall correctly, the love between a mother and her children is also meant to be extinguished by the cure, according to Delirium. What about self-love? Wouldn’t a lust for power come out of self-love? Unless the person had this robotic, Darwinian urge to be Numero Uno. And jealousy? And pride? Do those come out of a corrupted love? Or does the cure simply kill the ability to form bonds with other people, with little effect on emotions of passion? It’s all so muddied. After three books, I’m still not sure.
Lauren Oliver’s writing is lovely as always, and I appreciate her efforts to transcend the formula of the genre, but I’m left confused, struggling to make out the shape of the story.