Friday, March 30, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

So, I’ve been in a bit of a reading frenzy this week…I did have off from work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because my kids at my school library have spring break! I do still have my bookstore and volunteer jobs this week, but I still had plenty of time for reading. Also, added bonus, the books I’ve been reading are just so good!
Good cannot even come close to describing Pandemonium. The only time I was able (aka: I forced myself) to stop reading yesterday was when I went to volunteer. And then when I came home, I took my dinner into my room and ate while reading. That’s how good this book is.
If you have not read Delirium yet, A) go do so right now, and B) you might need to stop reading this post because I will be talking about the end of book 1 in a few seconds.
Book 1 ended with Lena and Alex trying to escape. Alex pretty much sacrificed himself so Lena could get over the fence. And this all happened after Lena discovered that her mom wasn’t dead all these years; she was imprisoned. And oh yeah, she escaped.
You know how a lot of YA books now go back and forth between the guy and girl characters? This book goes back and forth between two time periods for Lena: the time immediately following her dramatic escape and the time where she has joined the resistance and has been captured. Neither time period is really pleasant and both are filled with an enormous sense of loss and grief not just for Alex, but for everyone Lena has left behind to achieve freedom.
Each chapter goes back and forth between these two times. And I liked this because it let me know she survived all the earlier hardships she has to endure (like starvation, frost bite, depression, finding other invalids, etc.). And then once she finds other people (or more like they find her), she comes to a point where she really has to decide if she is capable of surviving while being so depressed, because surviving outside the loveless cities is hard; there’s no technology, no good medicine, no furniture, no non-physical jobs, etc. We meet a group of other survivors who all have their own stories about escape. And probably my favorite character is Raven. I like that not everyone deals with hardship in the same way. And I feel like there is just enough hatred in these survivors for the cities they once lived in.
The future Lena is kidnapped after being told to keep an eye on Julian, the son of the head of a political movement in NY that is all about getting rid of deliria at an earlier age no matter what the risks. Forced to survive in a small room with someone who truly believes in the evil of love might just be the hardest thing Lena has ever done. Except, Lena is just so smart and resourceful and living in the wilds has taught her so much about survival. She soon befriends Julian and they share the stories of their lives (the good stories, the ones that involve love). And while outsmarting her captors, killing people, finding a deformed society living in the old subway tunnels, and holding strong to her cause, Lena slowly learns to deal with her grief about Alex, and learns to be capable of loving someone else.
This book never had a dull moment. Lena passes out from hunger. She watches children die. She camps out with others living in the wilderness and goes on long journeys to safe houses. She’s never safe. She gets bombed at in both time periods. She gets captured. She learns about secret messages from sympathizers. She learns to keep moving always and not waste the life Alex so generously let her live. There’s fighting, death, escape scenes, underground tunnels, entire societies of survivors and people who disagree with the cure, there’s information about Lena’s mother, friendship, politics, love, and I really can’t say this book was missing anything.
The one and only negative thing I can say is that (like with the first one), I found a lot of the major actions/plot twists very predictable. Even the end (which I won’t spoil) and involved a humongous twist, was an ending I was expecting. However, since Oliver is such a master at writing, it didn’t really matter to me how much I predicted. I was still so mad at some moments, still so emotionally attached to certain characters, and still biting my fingernails at the end wanting Lena so badly to win.
I remember comparing book 1 to Westerfeld’s and Condie’s dystopias. And while I can still make that comparison with book 2, this one definitely branched out in its own direction and was able to make its own voice heard.  I loved the writing style (with the two times). I loved the nonstop action. I loved that Lena’s grief was so real and not too whiny, and not too overdone. I mean the girl was always almost about die; she didn’t necessarily have a lot of time to whine. I loved her relationship with Julian and how much she could teach him. The politics were fascinating! And really, I was just so impressed here. Oliver has become an author to keep your eye on. I know she will only give us only more amazing books in the future.  And she has become a master of cliffhangers! I need book 3 like right now! This gets a 10/10.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This was such a glowing review that I'm almost afraid to read this book too soon. I hate/love that I-need-the-next-book-NOW feeling. It's bad enough waiting for the sequel to The Vespertine.