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Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (2012)
Pandemonium (2012)
by Lauren Oliver
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: February 28th, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
buy a copy via Amazon.
synopsis via Goodreads.

UK Cover

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push, push, push,
like Raven taught me to do.
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.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

My Thoughts:
I loved Pandemonium–perhaps even more because I was one of the few who didn’t like Delirium very much. I am glad the flowery, beautiful writing was toned down to more manageable levels to allow room for action without dragging the pace down, which was my main problem with Delirium. The quotations in the beginning of Delirium’s chapters have disappeared (honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of them), instead chapters are separated into Then and Now. I was pleasantly surprised with the new format, it allowed a break between tense moments and to give the readers backstory without a deluge of flashbacks or the dreaded info-dump. Lena learns to be more independent: she learns to take initiative, and decide things for herself.

World-building: Finally, Can I Get Some Answers?
Well, at least I know where some of the outcasts go and about how far the reign of deliria spans. But I still don’t buy the society completely: it’s further reinforced that the people can’t feel hate, are zombies, and are fueled by fear. You can hardly blame them, the choice is clear: you get cured, or you get thrown in prison (or beat to a pulp.) I don’t know how the society would function if nobody cared about others; if people are naturally “no better than animals,” then we wouldn’t hesitate to wreck havoc.

But I am also starting to understand the utopian concept: is love worth sacrificing if it also takes away hate? As long as you comply with the rules in this society, you will survive and be protected. Sure, you may not have “love,” but you will have a shirt on your back, a comfty bed, and food.

Unfortunately, the creation of this society is still a mystery so I’m sticking my theory that it was created by a group of lonely, butthurt cat ladies.

The “Then” chapters are Lena’s backstory right after her escape into The Wilds. She meets a group of Invalids, and she quickly learns how to survive in the Wilds. At first, her refusal to help out under the excuse that she was too weak completely appalled me since she admits to feeling guilty and selfish. I felt it was only right for her to at least try to help out instead of being dead weight. The Wilds is a brutal place where survival comes at a cost, a lesson Lena is forced to learn. I began to suspect it was because Lena was fearful of going outside. Perhaps Oliver wanted to show Lena’s growth from a selfish, whiny girl to an strong, independent woman. Lena reveals that she can self-reflect, she knows when she is immature–and she fixes herself. The ability to admit to one’s flaws and do something about it makes Lena so much more likable.

Most people say the Now chapters were more exciting, but I honestly can’t decide between the two. I can see why the Now chapters may be much more enthralling because it is unpredictable. You know for sure Lena is going to make it out fine from the Then chapters (because if she didn’t there wouldn’t be Now chapters), but I still wanted to see how the two stories intersected.

The Now chapters are filed with much more action with Lena as a spy for The Resistance. Unfortunately, her stint as a spy doesn’t last very long when she is captured and locked up in a room underground. Her journey out of that room is a testament to how much Lena has grown. And I’m loving it!

With Alex out of the picture, I wasn’t sure what would happen: would Lena be depressed and lovelorn, or will she get another beau? Turns out she does have another lover. I definitely liked the romance between Julian and Lena a lot more than the one with Alex (to be honest, I thought a lot of Lena’s feelings toward Alex was fueled by infatuation and first love.) I suspect it’s because Alex was too mysterious and flat for me to like–while Julian was fleshed out. He had his flaws, his backstory, and his weaknesses. The best part was that Lena wasn’t the confused, damsel-in-distress anymore. HALLELUJAH!

In fact, I think Lena was the stronger one, though Julian does have buff muscles (even though I don’t know where he got them since he seems to be on the wimpy side.)
Lena also loves to pick the wrong love candidates: she has to pick the son of Thomas Fineman (Delirium Free America’s leader.) Another forbidden love story served on a silver platter. I was surprised at how easy it was to “unbrainwash” Julian since he was raised by the leaders of the entire deliria movement. I’m secretly expecting him to go rogue at any moment. And yes, he has eyes that seem to constantly change colors. Oliver must have an affinity with eyes. Apparently they can’t be just boring brown blobs.

I’m Way Too Good At Guessing These Plot Twists:
You’d have to be pretty oblivious not to know what’s up with all these obvious “plot twists.” Honestly, I’m not sure if Lena is so smart anymore. At least one of them was just screaming at me: seriously, why would someone make you carry a 600 page book without other intentions? And if Coin’s name was a flashing red light.
As for Lena’s mother–I don’t know how I knew. Maybe because I sensed that she had to be in the book somehow? Or was I subconsciously hinted at with foreshadowing?

Ending (OMG, EPIC CLIFFHANGER MOMENT…but really, we all knew it was coming):
CLIFFHANGER ALERT! I knew it was coming, but it did make me excited for Requiem. Though I know some are going to be frustrated.

I’m glad Pandemonium didn’t suffer from second-book syndrome. Most people expect the middle book to be a bridge between the first and last book, but I’m pleased that Pandemonium built from its first book, Delirium (which now that I think about it was just intro material) to give readers a very welcome surprise. Even if you didn’t like Delirium, Pandemonium will change your mind. The action, the plot twists, the heart-stopping tension definitely makes Pandemonium an irresistable pageturner.

Rating: A

Spoilery Thoughts I Need To Get Out of My System:
What if Lena didn’t see the hidden door? What would become of the plan then?