September 26, 2014

Mini Reviews: Pandemonium and Requiem by Lauren Oliver

With the cure, 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.
-from Requiem by Lauren Oliver

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For the sequels to Delirium I've decided to give you two mini-reviews together. I figure if you haven't started the series you won't want to read them anyway because of the necessary spoilers for Delirium and if you have read them then it's a good jumping off point for discussions. It's also funny because I have such differing ratings for both books.

Don't forget: these reviews contain spoilers for Delirium and the Requiem review contains spoilers for Pandemonium.

Pandemonium (Book 2)- 5 Stars
This was by far my favorite book in the series. It picks up a few months after Delirium left off but alternates chapters with what happened to Lena immediately as she entered the Wilds and after she became acclimated. I didn't necessarily care for this back and forth at some points and I feel like by the end, Oliver kind of forgot about it and stuck with the present anyway. It seemed like the flashbacks slowed things down for me. Lena has found herself in the Wilds and is being cared for by a group of (what society calls) Invalids involved with the Resistance. Lena begins to learn their ways and eventually finds her way back into society as part of a plan for the Resistance. But when the plan goes wrong and she's in captivity with the poster-boy for a Deliria-Free America, Lena must use everything she's learned to gain her freedom back.

The best part of this book to me is Lena's growth. She finally becomes a protagonist I can cheer for but she doesn't become a super hero overnight either. She has to learn to depend on her own strength now that she doesn't have Alex to lean on and press her forward. I really enjoyed seeing Lena blossom in this way. I also enjoyed seeing her in the driver's seat of a lot of the action. I would have never expected this from the Lena in Delirium, but she has learned that to have freedom you must fight for it and bleed for it.

Another thing that I enjoyed unexpectedly was Julian. He kind of came out of left-field for me but I liked him a lot. It was interesting to see a boy who is so similar to Lena before she left society and then to see Lena's influence on him as someone opposed to the cure. It was a fascinating dynamic to consider and see play out. Not to mention, Lena and Julian's captivity and all the action was edge-of-your-seat material. I felt like this book flew by because it was so action packed and had a great ending.

Requiem (Book 3)- 3.5 Stars
Requiem started out so promising but ended so abruptly, I wanted to cry. Basically following suit of most other dystopian series, Requiem is the big political book where war is waged against the big bad government to initiate a whole lotta change. This book alternates with chapters giving both Lena and recently-cured Hana's perspectives. At first I didn't care for Hana's point of view but she grew on me and I became anxious for the two characters to intersect. It was interesting to see the experience of a cured and an uncured.

I had heard a lot of negative reviews about the conclusion to the Delirium series, but I never read them because I didn't want to be spoiled. One major complaint was how nothing seems to really happen through much of the book. Personally, I didn't really realize how aimless this book seemed until I really thought about it at the end because there were so many emotions that went through me throughout that I didn't mind so much. I mean, that love triangle that kind of magically materialized itself just killed my heart. The growth of Julian (who reminded me so much of Peeta in The Hunger Games), the angst of Alex, the inability for Lena to even deal with the situation - it was enough for this superficial little reader (ha).

Up until the last few pages I couldn't understand all the negative press because it was a decent book. But then Lauren Oliver called and phoned in the end. Remember when I said that Delirium was too long of a book and could have used some editing? Well, the opposite for Requiem! First off, I was so irritated by Hana and Lena's interaction: the Hana that Lena sees is not the Hana we have been hearing throughout the book. I felt jipped and lied to. Hana proved to me through her narrative that she had much more substance even if she was flawed. But that interaction was crap. Finally, the end was tied up in a cute little bow that had a dozen loose strings hanging from it. I have so many more questions! I knocked a whole star off for this ending. If you haven't read this book yet, just be forewarned. I probably would have been more disappointed if I hadn't known the general consensus from the book blogging community.

Bottom Line: Someone needs to lock Lauren Oliver and Tahereh Mafi in a basement and tell them both to write fulfilling epilogues to their series so that this girl is a little bit more satisfied. Now I'm really going to go off on some tangents....

Have you read the Delirium series? How did you feel about it? Am I crazy? ;)

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