A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Requiem is the final installment in author Lauren Oliver's best-selling Delirium trilogy, a dystopian series that explores issues of love, societal control, gender relations, and politics. As in the second book, Pandemonium, the focus in this one is Lena's involvement in the resistance movement and how it fights the oppressive government. There's definitely violence (including character deaths, explosions, shootings, and hand-to-hand fights) and some stronng language (mostly "s--t," the occasional expletive "f--king" never in reference to sex), but the romance is limited to a few kisses. This is the rare teen series in which the romance is most pronounced in the first book. Oliver discusses several themes that make for good conversation starters, from the Judgment of Solomon and Bluebeard to dystopian societies and arranged marriages.
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What's the story?
Picking up a few days after the cliffhanger ending of Pandemonium, readers are thrown back into the story of protagonist Lena, her new love interest, Julian, and the newly resurrected Alex -- who (spoiler alert) didn't die as she believed for all of the second book. Unlike the other two books, author Lauren Oliver switches points of view between Lena and her former best friend Hana, who received the cure and is weeks away from marrying her assigned "pair," the new mayor of Portland. As Lena deals with her unexpected love triangle, her resistance group of free "Invalids" heads north to her old hometown, where Hana is slowly uncovering ugly truths about her soon-to-be husband.
Is it any good?
Readers hoping for the same swoon factor as in the original book will be disappointed. This third book is more preoccupied with its young heroine’s personal journey in a horrific dystopian society than which guy she'll end up choosing. Even though Lena thinks about her feelings for Alex and Julian all the time, their reality is too grim and confusing (not to mention focused on fighting the regulators) to allow for the kind of thrilling romance that hooked some readers in Delirium.
Readers who don't mind the fact that the romance is present but not overwhelming will find themselves unable to put the book down, even though there are enough plot holes and unanswered questions to make the ending feel abrupt and unexpected. If you think there will be some magical epilogue spelling out everything that happens to these characters, think again. Oliver isn't one for easy answers or thorough explanations; it's the big themes about love, sacrifice, freedom, and choice that she wants readers to take away, not just the "Lena and Alex" storyline.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of the dystopian novel in young adult literature. How does the Delirium triliogy compare with other recent dystopian series, like Legend and Under the Never Sky? What are the major similarities?
Delerium references both the Judgment of Solomon and the Bluebeard stories again and again. How do these fables relate to Lena's and Hana's stories.
Author Lauren Oliver doesn't just focus on Lena's perspective but also writes from Hana's point of view. How are the two girls examples of literary foils? How does their past as best friends affect each of them?
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