Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Published February 28th, 2012
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. In this electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller Delirium, Lauren Oliver sets Lena on a dangerous course that hurtles through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.
I rated Pandemonium 5/5 stars on Goodreads.
This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler-free.
Pandemonium is the second install of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, which tells the story of the really unlucky-in-love Lena. In Lena’s world, love is the source of all evil and has been classified as a disease: the deliria. Once of age, all people are “cured” and can no longer feel love or similar human emotion. But life has a different plan for Lena; for spoilers’ sake, I’ll just leave it at that.
After reading Delirium a few months ago, I felt the book left a little something to be desired. Maybe it was the pacing or the imagery or the protagonist herself, but Oliver made up for Delirium‘s shortcoming by writing this magnificent, magnificent book. From the worldbuilding to the character development to the incredibly poignant imagery, everything about Pandemonium was absolutely stellar. Here’s a little about why I loved it so damn much.
Lena’s character arc in this book was so tastefully done, partially aided by the structure of the novel as a whole. Chapters alternated between “Then,” which takes place directly after the first novel’s cliffhanger ending, and “Now,” which is set approximately a year later. The distinct difference in tone and voice seen in these two times helped me as a reader understand how Lena has dealt with the drastic changes she’s had to make since the end of Delirium, even though Oliver never directly described the ways in which her perspective has altered. Skipping between time periods was a little funky at first, but the format lent itself to the fast-paced narrative; I was always left wanting more.
In addition to the wisely-chosen structure, the rawness and difficulty Lena described helped me understand and empathize with her character. Lena at the beginning of Delirium and Lena at the end of Pandemonium are two vastly different characters. This drastic change was entirely appropriate for the hardships she faced and struggles she endured, and is something I don’t often see in young adult dystopian. People cope with hardships as they encounter them and I enjoyed reading about how Lena coped with the curveballs life threw at her. She was raw and real and I loved every bit of it.
There were some clichés sprinkled throughout the story, but I shockingly didn’t mind. Clichés come with the young adult dystopian romance territory and as much as I despise them in other books, Oliver weaved them into the narrative in a way that made sense. The unaccepting society, the underground resistance, and the ill-fated love triangle all made appearance, but Oliver put a new twist on these tropes so that they felt not overdone, but entirely unique. As a connoisseur of cliché young adult dystopian romance, I can confirm that that’s no easy task.
Oliver also foreshadowed the killer cliffhanger so tastefully. There were enough clues tucked into the story to give the reader something to suspect, but not so many that I knew exactly what was going to happen. And speaking of cliffhanger, let’s just say this: I’m glad I bought the next book beforehand.
Have you read the Delirium trilogy? What did you think?
Related Post: Annie’s Actual TBR Pile
This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.