Requiem

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Requiem Book Poster Image
Gripping finale is good but leaves readers wanting more.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Although there aren't many straightforward educational messages in the book, teens will learn about the popular dystopian genre and how its elements include a controlling government, a protagonist who questions the oppressive systems in place, and the social ramifications of either adhering to the societal control or rebelling against it. The author alludes to the Bluebeard folktale and the Judgment of Solomon story several times.

Positive Messages

Like most dystopian stories, Requiem demands that the reader think about society, governmental control, and the importance of standing up for your freedom. Lena's journey isn't easy, and many people she loves are either killed or have suffered tremendously, but the overall message is that the right to love is worth fighting for, even it comes at a heavy personal cost.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lena and her other uncured friends show how difficult and self-sacrificing the life of a revolutionary is, how hard it is to compromise your safety and comfort in order to fight an oppressive authority. Although violence is commonplace, Lena always acts either in self-defense or to save her friends. Despite his upbringing, Julian commits himself to Lena and to the resistance movement, even though others are skeptical about his involvement. Alex lies to Lena, but he still cares enough about her to always want to defend and protect her. Hana helps Lena, even though it's against everything she's been taught.

Violence

There is a considerable body count in this final installment, including the death of more than one secondary character. The government massacres an entire settlement of "Invalids" and even burns their enemies alive. Lena's two love interests come to blood blows. People die in explosions and during battle. A man is known for abusing women and is obsessed with the myth of Bluebeard -- the legendary French aristocrat who brutally kills his wives.

Sex

There are a few kisses and some nighttime cuddling, but there's a war on, and there's not much time for passion. This is the rare series in which the first book is the steamiest. Both Lena and Hana have memories of ardent moments in their past, but the love triangle in this book is more emotional than physical.

Language

"F--king" is said a half dozen times (never in reference to sex), while "s--t" is said frequently and other swear words are thrown in a few times ("bitch," "ass," etc.).

Consumerism

No overt product placements, but the Delirium books have been optioned for a Fox televison pilot starring Emma Roberts and Daren Kagasoff.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults and teens (although they are considered of age in the dystopian future) drink at dinners and parties. Hana gets tipsy from champagne. Lena's friends pass around a bottle of hard liquor to share.

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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written by1sophia12345 March 13, 2013
Teen, 13 years old Written byDitto247 November 16, 2013

OK

This book is good, but there a lot of swear words. The end of the book kind of left me hanging, but since its the last book there's not another one, so tha... Continue reading

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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