This book was difficult to review. The premise was intriguing, and John Dufresne's writing is very tight, both in dialogue and in characterization. Unfortunately, as the story progressed, I felt less and less interested in it, until I became totally detached and just wanted the book to end.
For a character-driven story, Requiem, Mass. lacks enough depth to succeed in sharing characters' souls with us. It tries admirably, and nearly succeeds on one or two occasions. Others may identify with or enjoy the plights of Johnny-boy and Audrey; I found them dull. By the end of the novel, very little has changed. Johnny's dad is still promiscuous; his mother is still crazy; Audrey's still a bit touched in the head.
Ever read a book that you could tolerate for the first two thirds, then suddenly it all falls apart during the third act? This happened to me in Requiem, Mass.. It suddenly took a sharp swan dive into the Land of Pithy Postmodern Commentary on Suburban Society. I was almost tempted to walk away and never return, but I persevered ... and was pleasantly surprised. The ending--the very last page in fact--redeemed the book enough that I gave it two stars instead of one. It couldn't redeem the three hundred pages that preceded it.