Review of “Requiem” by Lauren Oliver

Note: There are no specific spoilers for this book, nor for either of the two preceding installments.

This is the third book of the trilogy that includes Delirium and Pandemonium (see my reviews, here). I tried to read this one without doing a re-read, but ended up feeling the need to revisit the end of Delirium and all of Pandemonium. This book is not a standalone, nor is this review. It assumes you know the background of the trilogy. Nevertheless, you can read this review without fear of significant spoilers for any of the three books.


Requiem is told in alternating points of view between Lena, who left her life in Portland for freedom in “The Wilds,” and Hana, Lena’s best friend, who did not leave. Both of them are paying the consequences for their choices in different, and painful ways.

This book is quite full of action and excitement, and as the tension escalates to the denouement it reminded me a lot of the “Tonight” ensemble medley from “West Side Story,” with the inevitable showdown anticipated from competing perspectives of the various parties involved.

I raced through to the ending, and I think other readers did too, which may be why there have been so many complaints about the story’s screeching halt. But I will talk about why I did not want to throw my book, below, in the Discussion section.

For those readers who don’t like the idea that this series incorporates the usual YA/dystopia/trilogy/triangle, I would counter that the triangle turns out to be much more complicated and realistic than most of them. To me, it serves to highlight the complications of having the choice to love or not (the issue which is actually the whole basis of this dystopia), rather than only being a fatuous inclusion of a common trope. (It is, i.e., a meta triangle, just as the ending is a meta ending.) As Lena observes about how life is for most citizens who have opted to take the “cure” from loving in this dystopic future:

“…relationships are all the same, and rules and expectations are defined. Without the cure, relationships must be reinvented every day, languages constantly decoded and deciphered.

Freedom is exhausting.”

Amen to that!

Discussion: I loved this book. I loved it even more than the preceding two books in this trilogy. However, as I indicated above, many reviewers have ripped on this book for having basically a non-ending.

Therefore, you might be surprised at how much I loved this, because I am a huge fan of tie-it-up-with-a-bow endings. But. The open-endedness of the conclusion is, in my opinion, part of the whole point, on a meta level. And not even meta: there is actually quite a bit of exposition about it by the author (through the interior monologue of Lena). Life, she opines, is not about knowing. It’s about not knowing, but having faith and trust in what will come. She says:

“Take down the walls. … 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.

Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.

Otherwise you may never know hell, but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying. …

Take down the walls.”

Rating: 4/5

Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2013


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4 Responses to Review of “Requiem” by Lauren Oliver

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    Since I haven’t read the first two books, I probably won’t look for this one. I think I need to find the one YA dystopia that will hook me.

  2. Jenny says:

    I often love an open-ended ending. Or, well, I love it when an author has CHOSEN the non-ending ending, if that makes sense. She hasn’t just gone with that because she couldn’t figure out a satisfactory way to end it, and it doesn’t feel like she’s just stopped writing. When it feels like the author has made a deliberate choice of an open ending, that’s what I like.

  3. I just finished this one for the read a thon and loved your review. I agree, I thought this was the better of the three books… more … something. My review may go up later this afternoon depending on how my “must do’s” go today.

  4. stacybuckeye says:

    a trilogy I should have used in last week’s quiz!

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