“It is the rule of the Wilds. You must be bigger, and stronger, and tougher. A coldness radiates through me, a solid wall that is growing, piece by piece, in my chest. He doesn’t love me. He never loved me. It was all a lie. ‘The old Lena is dead’, I say, and then push past him. Each step is more difficult than the last; the heaviness fills me and turns my limbs to stone. You must hurt, or be hurt. Lena can build the walls, but what if there’s no one left to take them down? The powerful, heartbreaking conclusion to one of the most eagerly awaited, talked-about series is here.”
The Delirium trilogy has been stretched out over 2 long, suspense-filled years, and Requiem brings the story of Lena, Hana and Alex to a close in a heart-stopping finish. The paths of the three characters have differed greatly – Lena and Hana both grew up, living sheltered, deliria-free lives, whilst Alex has been free to live – and love – as he wants. But now they all move in different directions. Lena, who thought she’d lost Alex forever and has found a new love, Julian, is miles away from the life she knew. With her fellow Invalids, she must scrabble for life and food as the regulators close in on them. Conversely, ‘cured’ Hana is living the life her parents had always imagined for her. She’s engaged to Fred Hargrove, now the mayor of Portland. Her privileged life could not be more different than that of her former best friend.
Requiem follows both of their stories in tandem, as the two girls move further and further apart. As Lena and her cohorts plan to bring down the establishment, something’s not feeling quite right in Hana’s life. Although she’s been cured, a feeling she can’t ignore keeps pushing itself to the surface. She finds herself retracing old steps and connections to Lena – her old house, then the run-down, ramshackle shelter where the last of Lena’s family are forced to live – her discovery of Grace, Lena’s cousin, marks a change in Hana. She starts bringing food and supplies, each delivery endangering her new position more and more. Something is changing, but she cannot put her finger on what it is.
Sorrow and death continue to dog Lena’s steps, as she and her comrades battle for a greater cause. “We wanted the freedom to love. We wanted the freedom to choose. Now we have to fight for it.” But what she doesn’t realise that every step closer to their biggest fight yet is a step closer towards Hana. When the battle for freedom commences, and Lena’s friends are dying around her, she breaks free and starts running. “The resistance may have a mission in Portland, but I have a mission of my own.”
Elsewhere, alarms signifying the fight between the Invalids and authorities have interrupted Hana and Fred’s wedding. Hana is bundled into a car to be taken into hiding – but on the way back to Fred’s house, they run into an Invalid. “Her hair is hanging in her face, and she’s kicking and screaming like an animal.” But as Hana’s guard reaches for his weapon, she realises that this bloodied girl is none other than her old best friend. The two have been reunited, but they are both fighting for different causes. Aren’t they…?
Requiem is the fantastic, thrilling denouement to the Delirium series. Although Lauren Oliver ends her fantastically imagined, dystopian trilogy on an uncertain cliffhanger, I can’t imagine that the book could have been better finished in a more finite way – except for a picture-perfect ’10 years later’ scenario which, in my opinion, authors should generally try and avoid. Instead, she leaves the reader to make their own decisions about what happens, when the resistance finally break through and achieve what they meant to do. “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.”
So what will it be? Freedom? Ruin? Resolution? Chaos? Me – like most readers, I assume – I like to imagine that the notion of love being a disease will be obliterated and freedom to choose will finally granted upon their love-starved world. A world that can now begin to heal itself, where Invalids are finally valid, and death is less preferable to love, and all of the highs and lows that this tangible emotion brings are finally embraced. And three-pointed star scars will be a result of an accident, not a procedure. Because why would you need to cure something that was never a disease, or an illness, to begin with?
One thing is for sure. If you haven’t read this fascinating, compulsive, tension-filled trilogy, make sure you pick it up and decide for yourself. Delirium, Pandemonium and Requiem constitute one of the best trilogies I’ve read in years.
Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy.