Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
The Skinny: Lena has escaped from her old life, left Alex behind, and is struggling to push forward. As she enters the Wilds she meets a band of individuals that help her to leave behind her old life and embrace her new one. As Lena learns about her new life out in the Wilds, adapting to the struggles, she is plagued by memories of her old life and the people she left behind, most notably Alex. But when she becomes part of the revolution and is kidnapped with the son of the government’s most key player, she must try to escape… and not infect Julian, who has yet to be cured, with love.
BFF?: Then Lena: Then Lena was about how she was in Delirium – I looked back to see if I’d want to be BFFs with her and I think the consensus was that I might have because we could have safe, rule-filled fun. Then Lena is hurt, dead inside, weak. She’s been through hell and back and now finds herself alone. But Then Lena begins to find her inner strength, pulling herself back up.
Now Lena: This is the Lena I love, the Lena I could see swimming around under her surface in Delirium. Now Lena is a bad-ass, knowledgeable and sly. She’s strong, determined, able.
But do I want to be her BFF? Honestly… no. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE her and want to root for her. She becomes a darker version of her old self that worries me and what’s going to become of her in the next chapter. I just wonder if she’s become too jaded to truly be herself anymore.
Readability: We go back and forth between “Then” and “Now.” Which you’d think would be crazy difficult to keep track of or follow the story. It’s really not, I promise. I think what makes it easy to read is that it’s two completely separate “stories” – what you read about in one time doesn’t allude or foreshadow the other one. Lena’s voice is also clear and crisp while still giving us beautiful prose that’s weaved throughout the book.
Crush Level: 7
I didn’t think I’d be able to move on from Alex and feel as strongly for another as I did for him. And, although I did give Alex a 7, while I don’t think I’ll feel as strongly as I did for Alex, I think I might feel as strong for Julian in a totally different and new way. Julian, to me, was like Lena from before… naive really, pure but deep down wanting to be so much more than he was. The change in him was really amazing to watch, how he became disgusted with Lena then slowly began testing the love waters… I know Lena will never truly be over Alex, but I’m just gonna say <highlight for MEGA spoiler>: I was pretty disappointed Alex came back in the end.
Everything – Whatever. You’re thinking it too. 🙂
Commencement Speech: I guess I can say one thing about Pandemonium: I didn’t throw it when I finished. Which is good, because I read it on my Kindle.
Oh, and I can say one other thing about Pandemonium: IT WAS AWESOME. Okay. Maybe all-caps was unnecessary, but it was pretty fantastic. There’s always that fear of a sophomore slump when you get into series and Oliver managed to not only steer clear of the slump but give us a book that is so different and new that it doesn’t even feel like the second in a series. I feel like having this “Then” and “Now” duality lightened the book somewhat – not made it lighter in tone (it was still pretty dark) but helped to avoid what could have easily been chapter after chapter of Lena pity-fest. Instead we get this broken Lena followed by this bad-ass Lena then go back to the broken Lena knowing she gets to be bad-ass. We get to see what she became and how she got there, which was so fresh and added so much to this story.
I was slightly disappointed by the ending… mostly because I totally saw it coming. Maybe you didn’t – I have read several reviews that raved about the ending. I kind of just thought <spoiler> “oh, geez, here comes the love triangle.” But, if Ms. Oliver is the Ms. Oliver I’ve come to love and respect as a writer, I know she’s gonna have a few tricks up her sleeves that won’t leave me disappointed in the next chapter!
Yearbook Quote: “The world is upside down and everything is shit and my life has been cleaved and there are two different Lenas running parallel to each other, the old and the new, and they will never, ever be whole again.”
Superlatives – Most Likely to develop dual personalities
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