I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
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.
Pandemonium was a much faster-paced, tighter read than Delirium, and because of that, I liked it much better than the first book in the series.
In fact, it’s almost hard to compare Pandemonium and Delirium because they were so different. If I didn’t know they were from the same series, I honestly wouldn’t believe it. The pacing, the characters, the settings, the structure…everything felt totally different.
Things I didn’t like? Similar things to what I didn’t care for in Delirium – the fact that there isn’t very much levity in the book, and that despite Lena’s development in the novel, I still felt a little detached from her. I also didn’t love the reveals, mainly because I tend to guess reveals very quickly, and these ones (especially the ending reveals) were fairly obvious.
The other thing that bogged me down is the fact that I’m not really sure what this series is ABOUT. I feel like there aren’t any real themes in it – there’s a concept: that love is a disease – and there are consequences to that concept – oppression, prejudice, whatnot – but I feel like I’m not seeing any big overarching themes. What is the big idea of this series? Why does it matter to me in real life? For some reason, this book isn’t giving me that idea that pushes me to the point where I really care.
All that aside, I was glad that Oliver’s writing stayed consistently gorgeous throughout Pandemonium. I liked how Oliver developed Lena’s voice and had her breaking the fourth wall sometimes to address the audience in Delirium, and she does that in Pandemonium, too, although to a lesser extent. Still, the descriptions were all written with her sharp eye for detail, and this was definitely a case where the form followed the function in terms of the writing and structure.
Let’s talk about the structure for a second: Pandemonium splits chapters between “then” and “now” – “then” being what happened to Lena right after the ending of Delirium, and “now” being Lena in a new identity as part of the resistance. I really liked this structure – part of my problem with Delirium was how slowly it moved, and how I felt that the ends of chapters had these cliffhangers that weren’t really cliffhangers at all. Pandemonium had REAL cliffhangers. There’s some serious life-and-death stuff here, and flipping between the two plots kept me turning the pages faster.
The other thing I really liked about the structure is that it gave you a really complete look at Lena as a character – who she was – the shy girl from Portland who has to make it in the Wilds – to who she’s become – a fierce, passionate resister – but one who is always willing to question the choices before her. Lena’s development as a character is what made Pandemonium so much better for me than Delirium.
You’ve probably guessed by this point that since I liked Pandemonium a lot more than Delirium, I also liked Julian a lot more. I’ll admit, I was wary at first. Another YA love triangle? But this one makes sense, since Alex is not around, and Lena is learning to heal herself and be strong without him. She’s not looking for love, but she finds it in a guy who needs her help, and who is willing to learn, and who learns to love her for her fierceness and her passion. He loves the Lena that she is now, and since I liked Lena’s character SO MUCH BETTER in this book, I can’t help but like Julian, too. Aside from that, I also liked the fact that they actually got to know each other – it wasn’t love at first sight, it was just chemistry and something that came naturally out of their personalities, and not out of being the first people they’ve ever fallen in love with.
Basically, I am totally Team Julian, and I will argue down anyone who fights me on this…at least until I finish Requiem. =)
Heart-squeezing romance: FINALLY. I may have gasped at the scene in the sewers with the rain. Just saying. =)
Kick-arse secondary characters: Yes, Hana was pretty great, but not as great as Hunter or Raven – and before you say anything, I know Raven made mistakes, but she totally came through in the end.
The Final Word:
Much more “dystopian” than Delirium, Pandemonium had stronger character development and more heart-pounding action and romance. I liked the quicker pace, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Oliver bridges these two books in Requiem.
Have you read the Delirium series? What did you think of Pandemonium? Are you on Team Alex or Team Julian? Sound off in the comments!