Sunday, April 29, 2012

Choices and Chaos: Pandemonium

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Harper Teen, 2012

I'm writing this review literally having just finished reading Pandemonium, the second installment of Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy, and I'm having trouble finding the right words. It was that good.

But first, since I never did a review of Delirium on this blog since I read it before this blog existed, allow me to give a bit of backstory. Lena lives in a future United States in which love aka deliria is considered to be a highly contagious and dangerous disease. That's why everyone is required to undergo the cure, a surgical procedure, when they are 18. But less than 100 days before her scheduled cure, Lena meets Alex and catches the deliria. And so she makes a choice to run away from the life she knows in the regulated world and escape to the Wilds, the world beyond the fences and the government, and live with him where love is allowed.

The story picks up both right after where Delirium leaves off as well as a few months later - Oliver's chapters alternate between Now (Lena living in Manhattan and doing her part to help the resistance movement) and Then (when she first got to the Wilds). With the Then chapters, we see Lena rebuild herself in an unfamiliar world and in a situation she had never considered. Alex didn't make it over the fence with her, you see. He'd been shot and he told her to go, and so even though it literally nearly killed her to watch the boy she loved covered in blood with no way to possibly get out alive behind, she ran just as he told her to. In the Now chapters, we see a strong young woman who has been to hell and back, and now her beliefs are being tested more than ever before.

Oliver is an artist with words, making every scene, emotion, line, and setting incredibly vivid. Bouncing back and forth between Then and Now could have been incredibly confusing in the hands of a lesser writer, but with this story and this writer, it is a balancing act that has been mastered beautifully. Pandemonium continues in the grander themes laid out in the first part of the story, but also has an independent story arc that keeps readers engaged.

And then there's the ending, which I absolutely cannot say anything about except HOLY WOW I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. I'm freaking out, and I hope that Oliver knows what she's doing because I'm going to be having a heart attack from now until the final book, Requiem, comes out in 2013.

Comments welcome and, as always, happy reading.

Lauren Oliver's Website
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