*There may be some spoilers for the first book in the series, Delirium (here's my review for that)*
I started this a little apprehensiveness to say the least. While I liked Delirium and definitely wanted to find out what would happen next for Lena after THAT ending, it wasn't the best or memorable book I had ever read. So I thought PANDEMONIUM would be the same, honestly.
I found out a couple of months ago about the Lauren Oliver signing (more about that next week!) and having not read this, yet been given a copy by a friend, I thought it would be time to read this as the signing was for the third and final book in the series.
BOY THIS MADE UP FOR WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE IN DELIRIUM. (Get used to the CAPS by the way...)
Synopsis: After escaping Portland with Alex, Lena, alone, finds her way through the Wilds to a group of people, just like her. Fighting against the society she is forced to live within, escaping the cure that will prevent her from love. While she joins the resistance against the enforced regime, without Alex, she finds herself drifting towards a new love - someone that represents everything she is against.
Review: PANDEMONIUM is quite something. Since I started the Delirium series, I have read Lauren Oliver's other novel, Before I Fall (review) and it is now being made into a TV show with Emma Roberts playing Lena. So starting PANDEMONIUM with that already hinted to me there must be something spectacular about this book that has sparked so much interest.
PANDEMONIUM is narrated through Lena's eyes again but this time, in two different time zones, Now and Then. Then begins immediately after the ending of Delirum and shows an interesting side to Lena in coping with the loss of Alex while fitting in with her tough surroundings. It's fair to say she sticks out a bit at first. Now, which were my favourite parts of the book, details Lena's life as she goes to live in New York City undercover for the resistance along with new characters, Raven and Tack. I loved seeing a new and stronger Lena which let me know that despite the narration in Then, I knew she would be okay in the end. It was interesting having the contrast in characters actually that I think made it much more interesting than if it had been a linear structure.
In the Now parts, we are introduced to Julian. Julian is probably the epiphany of what Lena is against. Being a symbol of the younger generation, he is a part of the DFA (deliria-free America) who fight to cure the whole country of love. He isn't exactly your typical hero, I felt like he was a character I shouldn't like at the beginning but as the narrative progresses, you realise that he is merely following orders from a threatening father, it's something to hide his true beliefs. I actually preferred Julian to Alex. He seemed much more natural and I liked the slow progression of feeling between Lena and Julian who are kind of thrown together unwillingly. Their relationship is unique in that sense and the way everything just kind of happens felt much more realistic in my eyes.
Although normally I'm not a huge fan of poetry or lyrical language, I actually liked the way Oliver does this in PANDEMONIUM. I came to love the mixture of prose, speech and lyrical language that made this a lovely and enjoyable read. It makes it much more imaginative in my head, I feel like I am there, with Lena, among protesters or free in the Wilds. It was done so much better than in Delirium for me.
The concept was really the thing that got me to read this series. And while that is still there and developed further slightly, it isn't as 'Wow this is such a good idea!' than previously. However, I think that kind of suits where Lauren Oliver wanted PANDEMONIUM to go. While she doesn't explore the basics in this society with the whole love cure thing, she replaces it by exploring the intricate network of organisations making up the society that both oppose and support the cure for love. I loved this political aspect of the novel and made it much more tense and surprising, I thought.
The aspect I think that made me not like Delirium as much is that for me, it was unrealistic. In most dystopians, like Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (review), there is always the deep feeling that the situation could happen in modern society. And in Delirium I didn't get that. I could not see love being thought as a sickness. Or the governable able to force a cure upon us. However, with a look at the different worlds within and outside the city walls, I'm not sure why but for me it made the narrative that much more believable.
On a last note, OH MY FRICKING GOD THE ENDING. I have to admit I'm one of these readers who looks at the last page as they're reading (Sorry Lauren Oliver...), normally not really understanding the context of it. But OH MY. Advice? DON'T READ THE LAST PAGE because that just ruins everything! Seriously, the biggest surprise (for me anyway). I'm not sure whether I would have seen it coming had I not known but even though I did know I was still left like 'AHHH. WHAT? LIKE...WHAT?!' To say the least, I have no idea what's going to kick off in Requiem, hopefully I approve.
Overall, PANDEMONIUM is a far cry from my opinion on Delirium, making this series really stand up and be noticed in my eyes. I loved the way Oliver chose to narrate it, the settings, the new characters and what it focuses on which makes this book as good as my favourite dystopian novels. I loved PANDEMONIUM, bring on Requiem!
I give it a 5 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/
Review: Before I Fall
Review: Delirium #1