The Delirium Series Read-a-long celebrates all three books that we’ve grown to love over the last three years. I also like to think of it as a mini-celebration of how so many of my blogger friends and I became friends–an astounding series like Delirium can bring together readers of all ages.
Note: I would like to apologize for the delay in this read-a-long. My grandmother died two weeks ago, and I spent much of the last week in Philadelphia with my family for the services. I haven’t had much time for reading or reviewing, but I do plan to have the entire read-a-long finished on time. Your patience is much appreciated.
Day 1: Pages 1-33
Recap: Lena and her group, including a silent Alex, escape from New York City and make their way north. The distance between Lena and Alex seems almost insurmountable, and he declares that he never loved her. Hana is better off now after her procedure, or so she believes.
Thoughts: It’s been a long time since I last reread Pandemonium, but the emotional upheaval of the first thirty pages of Requiem is not at all strange or unfamiliar. Oliver brings us back into Lena’s world without overwhelming us with details. It is emotion that is important here–Lena feels too much, while Hana feels nothing. If the parallel between the two girls wasn’t obvious in the first two books, it is the central theme in this final novel, where both of them face choices that neither can be sure they are truly ready for.
Alex’s reappearance is still gut-wrenching after a full year away from the books. I have always been an Alex fan, and Julian faded into the background for me pretty quickly. That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the dialogue in that first conversation between Alex and Lena. It was interesting that for two people who value honesty, they couldn’t muster it up when it was most important.
If you haven’t read the story story “Hana,” you probably should do that before picking up Requiem. It sheds light on the choice (or perhaps, the lack thereof?) that Hana makes and which she has to live with in this novel, and while I wouldn’t say it makes her completely sympathetic, it makes her human, and the chapter is all the more painful to read knowing what she could have chosen.
Day 2: Pages 34-57
Recap: Hana’s discomfort with her role in life is becoming more and more clear, even to her fiance. Lena’s group decides to head to Waterbury, just as two injured arrivals throw the camp into chaos.
Thoughts: Interestingly enough, as Lena begins to settle into her role in the camp, Hana becomes more and more restless. Despite having had the procedure, it’s clear that there are parts of her mind that still resist the cure. She still looks for Lena and the friendship they once had.
Over in the camp, Lena makes a rather poignant observation about relationships in her world: “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.” I think it’s something we take for granted, and the constant uncertainty must be confusing and difficult for someone who didn’t grow up the way we did. And that observation is an excellent point for those who would espouse the cure, because who wouldn’t want to be sure about the people they are with?
Day 3: 58-87
Recap: Lena and the rest of the camp get to know Coral, the sole survivor of another group of rebels, and discover from her that the Scavengers are now working with the DFA to pick off anyone who tries to fight back. Hana bikes to Lena’s old house in search of something she can’t quite name, and finds Grace, Lena’s cousin, as well as Willow, an old classmate.
Thoughts: I actually find myself quite restless reading Lena’s parts again, and am far more intrigued by Hana’s side of the story. Much of Lena’s sections are focused on the inevitable fight that will happen between the DFA and the rebellion, and while the set-up is necessary and understandable, they can’t do much until that happens. Hana, however, is going after the things she wants to know, and she is taking her fate into her own hands in more tangible ways. She doesn’t wait to be told what to do or what to believe anymore, and I can see the groundwork for who she can become by the end of the story.
Day 4: 88-118
Recap: Lena’s group discovers an old house, but the former residents were murdered by regulators, alerting them that the Wilds are not safe for them anymore. Julian confesses that he loves Lena. Hana encounters Steven, a boy she’d believed she’d loved and who loved her back. Fred reveals his plans for controlling the country to Hana.
Thoughts: Secrets abound in these thirty pages, from Julian’s declaration of love for Lena to Fred’s hushed plans to bend the country to the DFA will by removing the right to electricity. More than the right to love, it is freedom that the rebellion is fighting for now, and the chance to make mistakes. Fred and his kind are driven by the need for perfection, for keeping things just so and just right. Julian–and the rest of the rebellion–make themselves vulnerable and they open themselves up to the possibility of being hurt. Is it more important to be the epitome of a perfect human being or to constantly grow and change because of one’s mistakes?
Day 5: 119-143
Recap: Julian volunteers to serve as a scout for the group, and he leaves with Tack. A regulator nears the camp, and Lena shoots him to protect Coral, but all hell breaks loose when a group of regulators sets fire to the woods, and the camp suffers a casualty.
Thoughts: One of the issues I had with Requiem at the start was how the physical danger they were all in never really felt real. I couldn’t lose myself in Lena’s chapters as well as I could Hana’s because it felt like I was just watching a movie. Hana seemed to constantly teeter over the edge of falling into something she didn’t quite understand, and it was reminiscent of how Lena had grown through the course of Delirium. In a way, my perception still illustrates Lena’s growth, because the girl she was in the first book is so far from the girl she is in this final installment, and this chapter shows that change very well. She finds herself tempted to commit murder out of jealousy, and while she had always danced around the negative side of love, she doesn’t really understand the intensity or the consequences of those emotions until she places Coral in her crosshairs. I thought this was a particularly brave choice for Oliver to make, because rarely will you find young adult characters realizing that they can end a life and actually coming close to doing so.
On a related note, Alex and Julian both make some tough choices in this chapter, and both of them affect Lena. I don’t take issue with her confusion regarding Alex, but it did bother me that she is so angry with Alex for not talking to her, but she doesn’t seem to understand that her behaviour towards Julian could also play a part in that distance. I don’t think I’m alone at this point in wishing she would make a choice and stick with it.
Day 6: 144-172
Recap: Hana steals food from the Roths to give to Grace. Pike and Henley are missing from the group, and they have no choice but to leave them behind (if they are even still alive) for Waterbury. They arrive at a camp, and the chaos stuns them. Fred hurts Hana for the first time after she asks about Cassie, Fred’s first wife. Hana also confronts herself about the choices she made regarding Lena and Alex.
Thoughts: I loved these three chapters because they addressed things I’ve been wanting to see for a while. I think that Lena’s group, despite everything they’ve already seen, still had a sort of idealistic view of what rebel camps would be like outside of theirs, and they were understandably shocked and disappointed in what they found. But it’s realistic and it’s shown them just how much work is still needed to build the kind of society they believe in, and how hard things can be.
Hana quickly became my favourite character in this book, because she was willing to look at her actions and call herself out for what she’d done. Instead of destroying her capability to feel emotions, the cure seems to have given her clearer vision regarding them. She is aware now, more than Lena ever was, of the impact one rash decision can have, and she pursues them anyway, because now she has a purpose.
Day 7: 173-223
Recap: Lena’s first trip to the river ends in disappointment: the water is running out because the river has been dammed. The group decides to try to break the dam, and Lena chooses Julian openly for the first time since finding Alex again. Hana discovers that Cassie, Fred’s first wife, is no longer in the government system. Lu is discovered to be a traitor, and Pippa volunteers to stay behind while the group moves on.
Thoughts: This section was the most action-packed set of pages yet, bringing not only violence but betrayal into Lena’s group. Lu, a girl even Raven trusted with her own life, has been Cured and the realization that she has been working to undermine their efforts is a tough blow for the rebels to take. Realistically, it would have been too much to hope that they’d stay untouched, and I liked that Oliver wasn’t afraid to stay true to that. I also liked that Lena acknowledged her doubts, including the temptation to just go back and live a simpler, easier life. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that these are teenagers, and that they have been thrust into something that they can’t fully understand.
Hana also dabbles with betrayal, her own natural curiousity leading her to seek out the truth about Cassie. Looking back at this section now, it was very obvious where this was going, but I was invested enough in Hana’s journey to not mind the slowness of it.
Day 8: 224-248
Recap: Hana sneaks into Fred’s study and steals a letter about Cassie’s state–the girl is said to be delusional and fixated on the tale of Bluebeard. Alex and Julian get into a fight, though neither will admit to why, and Alex runs away.
Thoughts: Bluebeard is one of my favourite fairy tales, and I’m not surprised that Oliver would use it as a parallel for Hana’s story. She is as curious and stubborn as the main character of Bluebeard, and Fred is just as monstrous. What remains to be seen is how closely this follows the original tale, and whether its commentary will add anything to the use of fairy tales as propaganda in their society.
The Alex/Julian fight did not come as a surprise either, and all I can say is, it’s about time. I was honestly getting tired of the three of them just dancing around one another and not confronting their emotions, and I think this fight was inevitable.
Day 9: 249-276
Recap: Fred confronts Hana with photographs of her visits to Deering Highlands, and he literally tries to choke her into submission. Lena’s group impatiently waits for contacts from the Resistance, and when they arrive, Lena is shocked to find that one of them is her long-lost mother. Waterbury has been destroyed.
Thoughts: I don’t know what I imagined the meeting of Lena and her mother, Annabel, would be like, but I definitely thought it was going to be awkward, and oh, it was. Awkward might be the least expressive word for it. Annabel is not the person Lena thought she would be, a running theme found in both Pandemonium and Requiem, and I was pleased with how Oliver didn’t shy away from the rawness of their first encounter. I do think it complicates the plots that Oliver will have to tie up in the next 100 pages, and I’m interested to see how she wraps it all up, especially since so much of Lena’s personality and sense of loss is attached to her mother. Can she truly get some closure?
Like the Alex/Julian fight, I wasn’t surprised by Fred’s violent behaviour towards Hana, but it did make me hope even more for her to succeed in finding out exactly what happened to Cassie.
Day 10: 277-298
Day 11: 298-324
Day 12: 325-346
Day 13: 347-370
Day 14: 371-391