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Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
WARNING: If you don't like cliffhangers, I suggest you wait until Requiem is released next year before picking up Pandemonium. Just sayin'.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the sequel to Delirium, a book I loved in 2011. I was afraid of the middle-book slump, that "second book in a trilogy is just a filler" feeling you get from the second installment in a series -- the one that determines whether or not you'll pick up the last book -- but Pandemonium surpassed all of my hopes. I think...no, I KNOW I loved the sequel more than Delirium. Whereas Delirium was the build-up to an engaging love story, Pandemonium was wrought with the fears and circumstances of what comes after, in a world where love is illegal and punished.
Lena's life has changed fundamentally in the six months since she was forced to leave Alex at the fence and embark into the Wilds on her own. She is not the same girl. Lena has had to leave that life behind and forge her own way in the Wilds without Alex's help. And she's done surprisingly well for herself, considering how privileged her life had been before her escape.
Lena's story is not an easy one to tell, but Lauren Oliver does it beautifully. This book was poignant and sad and all the while hopeful. And it introduces an entirely new cast of characters, all of whom are hard to forget. I like that it's easy to see the general camaraderie between Lena and her new allies, whether they be other Invalids like herself or those from the inside. Either way, Lena has to earn friendships wherever she goes. She is no longer the scared, timid girl she was in Portland. She has grown stronger, both physically and mentally, and she is ready to fight against everything she believed before.
Pandemonium is just as explosive as the ending to Delirium. Nothing's really changed on the other side of the fence since Lena left it, except that the Resistance has stepped up its efforts, and the government is no longer trying to hide the fact that Invalids exist and are causing chaos. The DFA (organization for a Deliria-Free America) are using these attacks as evidence that the Cure should be administered even earlier than age 18, especially in extenuating circumstances. If Lena found any part of her world hard to swallow when she met Alex, I'd wager she finds it quadruply hard to swallow now. Nothing is ever as it seems.
As opposed to a switched POV, like many sequels tend to take on, Pandemonium features a past and present POV from Lena's perspective It really helps the reader gauge what Lena has endured and how it has ultimately changed her. I found this type of narration a little more difficult to read than a standard switched POV between two characters until I realized that it was kind of the same, the way Pandemonium is told. There is the old Lena and then there is the new Lena. Past and present. One character, then another.
Again, I'll advise you that if you do not want to be waiting for the third book with bated breath, you should abstain from Pandemonium. However, as sequels go, I will say that it was definitely one of my favorites. It made me endlessly sad, but it also filled me with a sense of hope and longing. It kept me thoroughly entertained and entirely engrossed in the story. It was the epic sequel to an epic love story, and I am starting to seriously question why I don't make myself wait until all the books in a series have been released before starting one because it is going to be painful to endure the wait until Requiem.
Lauren Oliver discusses Pandemonium: