Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fizzle and Sigh

I wasn't going to miss reading the final installment in this YA dystopian trilogy -- not after I found Pandemonium (book 2) just as gratifying a read as Delirium (book 1).  And I enjoyed it...but (there it is), I think my expectations were too high -- I hoped for a climactic finish that built on the strengths of the first two novels, but instead, I found the things I liked least about the series were amplified in its finish;
  • The love triangle I winced to see realised in book 2 not only holds its three-sided shape for book 3, but stalls and grinds along painfully in that form.  While I can appreciate the heroine, Lena, is romantically stunted as a result of her upbringing, I find it hard to accept her refusal to commit to any real course.  It was difficult for me to feel any depth of connection or empathetic tingles when neither relationship really progresses on Lena's the whole. book.
  • In addition to this character flaw, Lena's other imperfections begin to outweigh her appeal.  Her emotional responses lack the maturity and leadership qualities earned hauling water and checking nests in book 2 -- was all that character development for nothing? [Spoiler: Would you really leave an abandoned burned girl behind because she rubbed knees with your ex? Minus a bajillion likeable points, Lena.  And where's your fight?  If you want him, ah...tell him?]
  • But yeeha for a strong villian! 
  • The unnecessary cussing I tolerated in earlier dialogue escalated in Requiem to the point that I felt it lacked the usual care Oliver takes with her language.  It was so repetitive it detracted from the story, and contributed nothing in return.  Oliver's tendency to noticeably repeat other phrases or words in books 1 and 2 also continued (and more) in book 3. I found myself wondering if Oliver was rushed along to please us, (hungry) fans, because I didn't detect the same care and thoughtfulness with descriptions and planning either.  There seem to be more proof-reading oversights, more recycled imagery, and less effort to create believable, fate-like coincidences instead of just bringing characters together, bam. 
  • It doesn't help that I read the Birthmarked trilogy so recently, and that in contrast, found a very similar final conflict executed with intricate precision and gripping force.  Nor does it help that Birthmarked's dystopian heroine grew, and stayed bigger and better for it.
I'm glad I read Requiem.  I enjoyed Oliver's world too much not to.  But in recommending the series to others, I suggest readers may benefit from expecting less from the final installment when book 2 (often a filler book in trilogies) delivered so much.

Thank you, Hachette, for sending me a review copy to complete this very solid set.
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