Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder
Released: February 28th 2012
Pages: 329 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

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.

Pandemonium has been sat on my shelf for a while, and I guess a part of me was afraid to pick it up. Delirium completely swept me off my feet, and I totally hadn't been expecting it - I knew it'd be good, but not that breathtaking. Delirium gave me high expectations, and I was worried that Pandemonium wouldn't meet them. For a while, it didn't - but by the end, I felt stupid for worrying in the first place.

The Delirium trilogy is based in a future America where the government have convinced people that love - deliria - is a disease that needs to be stamped out. They do this through the cure, which leaves people like zombies - no emotion, no ambition, just living. There are a few that reject this operation known as the Invalids. They live on the other side of the fenced off area, and are left to survive by themselves. At the end of Delirium, Lena and Alex try to escape to the Wilds where the Invalids live. Lena made it; Alex didn't. In Pandemonium, the reader follows Lena as she comes to terms with living in the Wilds and becoming part of the resistance.

Alex really got under my skin in Delirium, and I couldn't stop crying at the ending. So when I began to like Julian, I think I felt the guilt of betrayal as much as Lena did. Oliver is fantastic at characterisation, full stop - but she exceeds with males, and you can't help but fall in love with them. I still adored Lena - she's the strong, silent heroine with a fiery undercurrent that readers are able to relate to.

Now whilst the book overall didn't suffer from SDS - second book syndrome - the first part did. It was quite slow, dull, and as it's been almost a year since I read Delirium, I felt lost and confused about where I was up to with the plot. This eventually straightened itself out, but I think the beginning could have been much improved by a brief review and reminder of what was going on.

The story was set out in alternating chapters called 'now' and 'then', and although I grew to like it, at first I found it quite frustrating, because the 'then' chapters could be amazing, but then the 'now' chapters could be boring. I also didn't like the fact that the structure was so different from that in Delirium, which also extends to the cover. The Delirium and Pandemonium UK covers are so different, and although I know it's a minor thing, I like it when series show continuity. It just felt slightly disjointed.

Despite this, the actual plot was amazing. Oliver built the tension up thick and fast, and there were times when I just couldn't read fast enough. However, it was nothing that really struck above a three-star rating until the end. And I mean literally the end - that one word that completely changed this novel upside down and gave me such bad feels that I was left speechless. Part of me is annoyed at the love triangle, but the rest of me is so excited because SPOILERS EVERYWHERE ALEX ISN'T DEAD AND OH MY GOD best plot twist.
Rating: 4/5

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