Review: Wayfarer

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a sequel goes, this book is much better than a typical second book, but that’s probably because Bracken has avoided a trilogy. Nicholas and Etta begin separated and, while readers know from the end of PASSENGER that Etta is alive, we don’t know where or when she is. Neither does Etta for that matter. Lots of surprises in this installment including Etta meeting her dad, discovering that Julien is alive because he was stranded just like Etta, and the insertion of a mystical Faustian figure in the Belladonna. The travelers take us through early 20th century revolutionary Russia, San Fransisco after the Quake in 1906, Carthage during the Roman siege, and an alternate historical timeline in which Etta’s beloved New York is completely destroyed. Rose’s history is more fleshed out in this book, making her manipulation of Etta more understandable, but not necessarily more acceptable. This book blends Rose’s past, with the Thorns emerging as a force that really exists, with the journeys Nicholas and Etta are taking to try and get back to each other. At the center of it all is the astrolabe, which just about everyone has come to agree must be destroyed to prevent Ironwood, and an even more evil power-the Shadow, from getting their hands on it.

I’m a fan of a happy ending as much as the next girl, and this one delivers. The things that saves it from being a complete saccharine overload is that there is some delayed gratification in getting to the happy ending. I think one or two more deaths would have made it less tied-up-with-a-bow, but Alice stays dead and not everyone comes out of the struggle unscathed. The overall message is also one I can get behind: We can’t rely on others to keep our world free from evil-we have to make the world around us the kind of place we want to live.

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THUMBS DOWN to REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver

TITLE: Requiem

AUTHOR: Lauren Oliver

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins


SUMMARY: This exciting finale to Lauren Oliver’s New York Times bestselling Delirium trilogy is a riveting blend of nonstop action and forbidden romance in a dystopian United States.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

With lyrical writing, Lauren Oliver seamlessly interweaves the peril that Lena faces with the inner tumult she experiences after the reappearance of her first love, Alex, the boy she thought was dead.

REVIEW: **SPOILER ALERT** Readers may remember that I was less than impressed with Pandemonium even though I enjoyed Delirium. I just felt that the book was a little too much of a bridge between what happened to Lena and Alex and what would happen in Portland between the DFA and the rebels. With this third and final installment, I feel like the tension is just prolonged. The only resolution that is really provided is between Lena, Alex, and Julien while continuing the struggle between the Invalids and Valids. There seems to be a lot of action in this book but ultimately, it’s similar to spinning wheels. Much dust is kicked up in an effort to get somewhere when ultimately only a few feet of progress is gained. Lena’s character does not really develop any more than she did in Pandemonium. She struggles with the guilt of leaving Julien behind but it seems a foregone conclusion that Lena will choose Alex when he made such a dramatic, surprise appearance in the second book.

The inclusion of Hana’s perspective seems more a sideshow trick than a plot element. While weaving the two plot threads together seems a technical feat, it’s all  too convenient. Lena and Hana ending up as the major players in the outcome of the struggle for Portland, while prosaic, is contrived. It takes entirely too long for the conflict to come to a head and while Oliver does kill off some well-known characters, too many of the favorites survive in such a violent, combative environment for it to ring true. Those who do die are characters readers have only recently met or who played secondary parts in the plot.

The saving grace of this series is the writing itself. Oliver manages to create beautifully crafted passages that linger long after the plot has moved on. Oliver manages to make all of the violence and plotting seem as background noise to Lena’s lyrical musings on her physical and emotional condition. If Oliver’s storyline was as complex, courageous, and graceful as the prose itself, the story would have more staying power. The end to this series is a tad too convenient for this reader’s taste. It is an entertaining, interesting read but nothing that one should rush to finish.