Book Review: Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver

Title: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
ISBN: 9780061978067
Pages: 384
Release Date: February 28, 2012 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Teen, Dystopian
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in the trilogy, Delirium.

Summary:

Lena has escaped from the confines of her rigid society, one where love is banned and excised through a procedure, and joined with the Resistance.  Still mourning the death of her beloved, Alex, she attempts to adjust to her new way of life.  But Lena can’t help but think about what she left behind and wonder if the price she has paid is too high, especially when confronted with some of the Resistance’s darker methods.

Review:

Pandemonium is the second novel in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, and it certainly thrusts the reader right into the story.  There is almost no introduction to the novel or review of what happened in the previous book.  Oliver expects her readers to be up to speed and plunges right into the action.  While this is great for a reader very familiar with the first novel in the series, I’ll admit I was a bit confused.  It had been over a year since I’d read Delirium and it took me awhile to remember what had happened.  As a result, I recommend a serious refresher or reread of that novel before starting this one.  If you haven’t read Delirium, I wouldn’t even consider picking this book up until you’ve read that one.

The novel is told in two time periods; one, in which Lena has just escaped from her oppressive society, and the other in the future, when Lena is back in that society, undercover and part of the Resistance.  The length of time between these two and how Lena got from one situation to the other is unclear for awhile; readers must trust Oliver to guide them, and if they do, they will be rewarded.  She does an excellent job keeping up the suspense, though sometimes readers might wonder where in the world the book is headed.

Oliver presents readers with a new, hardened Lena in Pandemonium.  She’s recognizable, but she’s not the same Lena readers grew to knew and love.  The character transformation is simply fascinating, especially as readers discover what led to it.  I wouldn’t say the book is predictable, but when there’s a twist coming, readers can sense what direction Oliver will take the reader next.  Surprisingly, this doesn’t take away from the reading experience; it’s what happens along the way, rather than the big changes in the storyline, that makes up what is great about this novel.

I will mention one issue that continually occurred to me during Pandemonium, something which bothered me, but was not at all the fault of the author.  It struck me that Lena used the word “love” a little too freely, that I had trouble believing her when she used it.  I was going to criticize the book for playing into the teenage romance angst that so turns me off in other stories, until I thought about it more fully.  In this world, there is no love, so how would Lena know when she’s in love with someone?  Butterflies in the stomach?  Tingling at a touch?  We all know this isn’t love, but how does Lena know that?  I found this to be a fascinating issue that I kept thinking about over the course of the novel.

Pandemonium sets up an exciting conclusion for the Delirium trilogy.  Readers can likely predict the big twist at the end of the novel before they even pick it up, but it’s still explosive and exciting.  Oliver is a very talented author, and I’m constantly surprised by her creativity, especially considering how different this book is from its prequel.  She’s become an author that I will take leaps of faith on and I’ve yet to be disappointed.

Other books by Lauren Oliver:

Delirium
Before I Fall

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Comments

  1. It has been at least a year since I’ve read Delirium as well, but in my mind, I THINK I remember the important parts. I loved that book! We will see though. I do have this book, and just need to wrap up a couple of book club reads and stuff then I will start it. In my mind, I am not totally sure Alex is dead. I see a big big opportunity here to bring him back into the mix at some point. In fact, I’m counting on it.

  2. It has been at least a year since I’ve read Delirium as well, but in my mind, I THINK I remember the important parts. I loved that book! We will see though. I do have this book, and just need to wrap up a couple of book club reads and stuff then I will start it. In my mind, I am not totally sure Alex is dead. I see a big big opportunity here to bring him back into the mix at some point. In fact, I’m counting on it.

  3. I re-read Delirium before I read Pandemonium, and I’m so glad I did. If I hadn’t, I likely would have felt the confusion in the beginning that you mentioned. This book had a much faster pace than the first, and it really does start off right in the middle of all the action. I’m so glad you made the point about Lena knowing what it means to love. I, too, felt a little critical of Lena’s use of the word, but I’m so glad you made this point! It really changes how I felt about that aspect of the book. I can see now how she might use it differently because she doesn’t completely understand what it means. Great review!

  4. I re-read Delirium before I read Pandemonium, and I’m so glad I did. If I hadn’t, I likely would have felt the confusion in the beginning that you mentioned. This book had a much faster pace than the first, and it really does start off right in the middle of all the action. I’m so glad you made the point about Lena knowing what it means to love. I, too, felt a little critical of Lena’s use of the word, but I’m so glad you made this point! It really changes how I felt about that aspect of the book. I can see now how she might use it differently because she doesn’t completely understand what it means. Great review!

  5. I feel like I could just repost this as my review since my thoughts were so similar (although you say them much better than I could). I really had a hard time remembering Delirium and could have used a refresher so that is excellent advice you give.

  6. I feel like I could just repost this as my review since my thoughts were so similar (although you say them much better than I could). I really had a hard time remembering Delirium and could have used a refresher so that is excellent advice you give.

  7. You know, I enjoyed Delirium, but I feel like absolutely no need to read this. Plus it’s been like two years since I read Delirium and I gave away my copy so that part of your review pretty much sealed this book’s fate for me.

  8. You know, I enjoyed Delirium, but I feel like absolutely no need to read this. Plus it’s been like two years since I read Delirium and I gave away my copy so that part of your review pretty much sealed this book’s fate for me.

  9. I will be reading both of these back to back very soon, and am looking forward to it! I loved Before I Fall, and there has just been so much good press on Delirium that I can’t justify waiting too much longer. I think it will also help if I can go straight from book 1 to book 2. Very persuasive review today!

  10. I will be reading both of these back to back very soon, and am looking forward to it! I loved Before I Fall, and there has just been so much good press on Delirium that I can’t justify waiting too much longer. I think it will also help if I can go straight from book 1 to book 2. Very persuasive review today!

  11. I really need to get around to these popular series. I haven’t read most of them and people seem to love them.

  12. I really need to get around to these popular series. I haven’t read most of them and people seem to love them.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I found the book really good. She did jumb into the action which was good, you should never read the sequel before the first. And it is always a good idea to re-read the first with any series. I couldn’t put the book down

  14. Anonymous says:

    I found the book really good. She did jumb into the action which was good, you should never read the sequel before the first. And it is always a good idea to re-read the first with any series. I couldn’t put the book down

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