PANDEMONIUM (Delirium, book 2) by Lauren Oliver
Harpercollins, 2013, 432 pages, 9780062014542, Paperback, $9.99
At a book signing that I attended, Lauren Oliver stated that she liked to experiment with style and structure and, therefore, attempted to change the way that she wrote with every book. This may explain why some readers feel extreme shock when moving directly from Delirium into Pandemonium.
Her second, and shortest, book in the Delirium series was separated by alternating chapters called now and then. It’s confusing and difficult to get used to at first, and it isn’t until the end of the book that you’re able to put all the pieces together.
When Pandemonium begins, Lena is back where she started in the previous novel. She’s in school (though she has been—misleadingly—identified as cured) and on her own. After Alex’s abrupt death at the end of Delirium, Lena is left woefully alone and lost in the Wilds with no one to protect or guide her.
“The flip side of freedom is this: When you’re completely free, you’re also completely on your own.” (Page 205)
Throughout the novel, we learn about the last few miserable months and how Lena was able to survive by attaching herself to a group of invalids in the Wilds. Lena grows as a result of this experience, and she decides to join the resistance. Ironically, now that she’s free of the cure, she seems much colder and is no longer innocent. During her time in the wild, she has learned many things and has seen her friends die and betray her.
“The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame.” (Page 3)
She is then recruited to follow Julian, who is the youth leader of the DFA, or Delira Free America. During one of their events, a bomb is set off and Lena follows Julian straight into a kidnapping. They are held together for several days until Lena is able to free them, Julian being rather useless. Of course, throughout their imprisonment, Lena and Julian fall for each other, and Julian joins the Resistance.
Despite the necessity of the book in the series (it’s hard to argue that it isn’t needed for the final installment), I found it boring and rushed. As I stated before, it’s the shortest book in the series at around 400 pages, and it’s quite choppy, with a lot back and forth switching between events. I also found Julian and Lena’s “love” to be forced, and it’s even mentioned in the book that the Resistance was hoping they might fall in love so Julian would be on their side. This may be because of the intensity that Lena and Alex had in the previous novel, and even with the intensity that she thinks of him in the beginning of this novel. Ironically, their Julian and Lena’s situation is somewhat parallel to her situation with Alex, except Lena has now become Alex and Julian is the “old” Lena.
To be honest, I read the last couple of pages and found that it’s the ending that makes wading through the rest of the novel worth it. But besides the final plot twist, which I was hoping and imagining would happen for most of the book, it’s still anticlimactic and loses the quality that makes it break through the cliché of romance novels. The ending is soap-operaish despite being what I hoped for.
Still, despite some major flaws, I’m still in awe of Lauren Oliver’s writing style. I would most likely read her diary, even if it only described her trip to the grocery store.
“It occurs to me, then, that people themselves are full of tunnels: winding, dark spaces and caverns; impossible to know all the places inside of them. Impossible even to imagine.” (Page 276)
Her writing seems relevant to most people, it and keeps me coming back to the series despite my dislike of Pandemonium’s plotline. This middle book seemed like a hump that one must get over to get to the best part (kind of like Wednesday). I believe it would have been better suited as the beginning of the next book and made into a two-book series. However, I can understand the reasoning behind splitting it up, as the ending of this book is a cliffhanger and does lead directly into the next installment, Requiem.
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