Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review- Requiem by Lauren Oliver

(From Goodreads) They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.
Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.
After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.
Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.
Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.
But we have chosen a different road.
And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
We are even free to choose the wrong thing.
Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.
Ever since I read Delirium, I was impressed by the series. I thought that the premise was really cool and that there was great potential for this to not only be a great series by itself, but it could really delve into some deeper topics that are meaningful to today's teens. In the first book, it was a fairly good book and I really liked it. I liked the ending of it because I thought that it was a good cliffhanger. In the second book, I found myself pleasantly surprised not only with the turn the story took, but with the ending as well. The ending was better then the last one and left a lot of questions and ways that Lauren Oliver could have done the third book.

But what I found left me disappointed. I thought that in the second book, Lauren Oliver had done some very good characterization and growth, the plot was good and it set up for the third book well. I'm trying not to give away too much here in this review, but for the sake of, if you haven't read the series yet or the second book don't continue reading past this point (although studies have shown that spoilers actually don't ruin books and movies as much as they assume).

Anyways, so onto my spoilers and review.  I thought that having Lena fall in love with Julian in the second book was a nice change from past books I've read. I was thinking maybe there wouldn't a love triangle in this story (because Lena thinks that Alex might be dead and doesn't know what happens to him after she escaped and he was shot). But nope! Alex shows up right at the last moment and instead of confessing his undying love to her, he basically tells Julian that Lena isn't to be trusted and there's just this moment of complete hatred and anger you can feel seething off the page from him.

So here I was thinking while waiting to get this book, "What does he mean? Why does he hate her so much now? Is there going to be a love triangle?" I saw lots of potential for Lena to grow here with this new development. In fact, I saw lots of ways for Oliver to help set her book apart from other YA books. But instead, there's this constant struggle throughout the story if Lena should stay with Julian or not. But at first Lena is convinced that Alex hates her, but as much as she doesn't want to admit it, she's still in love with him. In fact, she still loves him more then Julian.

Throughout this book, I felt that Alex and Julian didn't really have a point to being there. That they were kinda there just to create some tension. Julian had no real major character growth, in fact, I can't really say I saw any at all. Maybe that he learned to understand what it was like to choose love and to grow into a more assertive, leadership position among the rebels? But then, all he did was just gain a little of their respect. Lena, I felt, was unfair to him throughout the story. She knows she doesn't love him as much, and yet, is always going on about how much she loves him and then the next moment, how much she still loved Alex. She was using Julian it seemed like just because he was there and she had to have someone if not Alex.

One of the interesting things about this story I will say, is that Oliver decided to add in Hana's point of view. I enjoyed seeing what it was like to be cured and I enjoyed seeing the development of Hana's character despite her cure. But besides that, I also didn't see a huge point to her point of view. We learned a couple of key facts from her that raised some very important questions, but those questions were never answered. If Fred (her to be husband who's now I guess, leading the Cured world) is helping the rebels, or allowing them to rebel...why exactly? Do the rebels figure this out at all? Does, in the end, he in fact, die? He's suppose to die actually, but the author never really goes on to give any kind of closure to this part. Hana's point of view left me with more questions then it did answers.

I liked this book, but unfortunately, I was left with too many questions and concerns to have really enjoyed this book like I wanted to. I was hoping maybe Oliver would go on to address first loves, moving on from those loves, can true love really exist, can you really love two people at once, and so on, so forth. I was hoping maybe she could have used the characters in a bigger way. And besides the "open" ending that left me with way too many questions and ends that were never tied up, I felt that half the time, the characters either were there just because and they didn't really have a grand point to being there, or they were really underdeveloped.

For example, we never really learn all too much about Lena's mother. But when Lena discovers her in the forest, sent by the resistance to help them, Lena gets a little bit of closure from this. But there was little development of her mother. We do learn some about her feelings and how much she loves Lena and so on, so forth, but besides being there just to give Lena a little closure about her mother and help Lena figure out a note Alex left her, I didn't see much point to her being there. And yes, I do think that minor characters (her mother could maybe even be called a major character) should be developed like our major characters should be.

 (I will say though, that I was at least glad her mother did appear, despite that I thought it wasn't necessary to the story, because at least Lena does have a parent partly present in the story. In most YA books, I feel I see way too many books where the parents are never present at all. In a way, this is understandable, we can't have our protagonists doing what they can with their parents there 24/7. But also, I feel this happens all too much with teens running off on an adventure without so much of a thought to their parents who will most likely notice something has happened here.Or their parents die or whatever. I'll blog about this later.)

Overall, my main problem with this story is that the ending is too open. I'm all for open endings if that's what your story needs. But if you can tie up as many loose ends as possible, you should. There's a point between leaving enough room that your readers can question what exactly happened yet leaving them satisfied to wonder- and leaving too much to question.  Lauren Oliver made a video of herself explaining why she ended the story like how she did.

And the other problem is that the characters really bugged me and I just didn't see as much development and usefulness of character I would have liked to see. If the characters all have a meaningful part to the story in that maybe it doesn't allow them much growth and development, then I can understand that. Some characters don't need to grow within the context of the story. But all your characters should be meaningful to the story, and if anything, meaningful to the growth of the protagonist(s).

Overall, I give this story 3 stars and a sigh and shrug.

Anyways, you can check out Requiem here on Goodreads, or find Lauren Oliver here at her websiteon Tumblron Twitterat her blog, or if those aren't enough links for you, here on Amazon.

Sincerely,
Sareh

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