Book Review: Requiem by G.S. Jennsen
One of the great challenges for the final installment of any series is building upon everything that has come before and wrapping up the story in a way that feels both appropriately climactic and satisfying to the audience. That challenge becomes even greater when said series is a nine-volume saga spanning entire universes (yes, plural) and featuring a huge cast of characters for whom the stakes involved are monumental. Requiem demonstrates that not only was Jennsen up to the challenge - she knocked it out of the park.
One of the things I appreciated most about this book was its pacing. There's a lot going on, and I spent much of the book frantically swiping through the pages on my Kindle, anxious to find out what would happen next. I loved those scenes with all of their tension and excitement and intense emotion. But I also appreciated that the story slowed down a little in between all the action to give readers a breather and allow us to see the characters' reactions to everything happening around them. It allows for some fantastic character development, which I'll talk more about in a second. But then, just when you think things are going to stay calm for a little while, Jennsen dials the intensity up to 100 and sends the characters headlong into an even more dire set of circumstances. It makes for a thrilling ride but never feels like an overabundance of action and explosions just for the sake of action and explosions, which I appreciated.
The character development here is excellent. By this time, fans of the series have already come to know these characters very well and love them even more. But one of the things that makes these books so great is the way the characters continue to grow and develop and change even after eight prior novels. We see them face new challenges and use the experiences they've had before to react in ways that show just how far they've come. We see their relationships with each other change as a result of the circumstances they're placed in. We've watched them become extraordinary people, and our hearts swell with pride as they bravely face each new threat because we've been on this journey with them for so long, and it kind of feels like we're cheering old friends on from the sidelines. Alex, Caleb, Eren, Miriam, and so many others are fantastic, as always, but one of the characters who really grew into her own here was Valkyrie. I've always loved Valkyrie, and she's grown a lot over the course of the series, but it was fascinating to see her development here as she seeks out new experiences and is forced to cope with the intensity of certain human emotions.
The romance in the series is another thing I've always mildly enjoyed, but I found myself especially drawn to it here for some reason. Maybe it was just because there were so many downright adorable moments between characters. Maybe I just got all nostalgic and sentimental knowing that this was the last book in the series. But the scenes that showed some of the romantic relationships between characters in this book were some of my favorite parts. Fans of Harper and Morgan, Miriam and David, and Will and Richard should be especially pleased.
While the story does wrap up in a way that feels appropriate and will likely be satisfying to most readers, I had mixed feelings about it. In the interest of not spoiling anything, the only other thing I'll say about that is that I don't think I really believed the sense of danger or devastation that was maybe intended, and I'm also just a cynical person who enjoys soul-shattering endings. So that might explain part of it. Nevertheless, it was an emotionally impactful ending in other ways and felt like the right one for the story. I will say that I did really love how the first line of the entire series tied into the ending in ways that I doubt anyone really saw coming.
It's been quite an adventure, and I've loved tagging along with these characters every step of the way. I eagerly look forward to seeing what Jennsen takes on next. I'm sure it will be equally epic and impressive.