Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver

GENRE: Young Adult
PAGES: 416
PUBLISHER: Hodder Paperback
FORMAT: Hardback
BUY IT: Waterstones


Love, the deadliest of all deadly things. It kills you when you have it. And when you don't. I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push, push, 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. Pandemonium is a poignant, explosive, recklessly romantic and utterly heartbreaking novel. Like Delirium, the first in the compelling trilogy, it will take you to the very edge. That's all you need to know. We'll let Lena do the rest of the talking ...

Initially I found the prose of Delirium slightly slow and cloggy. It took a while to make its point, and when it did it repeated itself quite a lot. All in all, even though the plot was quite good I felt the book was let down by its style and form.

Pandemonium couldn't be more different. The story is split into two parts: Now and Then ('Then' being the continuation of Delirium, tracking Lena's entrance into the Wilds after leaving Alex behind, and 'Now' depicting a couple of years into the future when Lena re-enters the population as part of the Resistance). Having the novel split like this gives Oliver the opportunity to do what she does best: create cliffhangers. It makes it so much more of a page turner and unlike its predecessor doesn't make you feel like you have to go through the hard slog for the reward.

Having a split narrative also gives the opportunity to introduce a whole new cast of characters without losing sight of all that had come before. We are introduced to the idea of the Wilds being a 'rebirth', almost a way to distance itself from everything that happened in Delirium, to launch itself into a more adult and grittier narrative. Before Lena was a naive school child, now she is an adult, and needs to be part of a new society in order to survive.

I really enjoyed that this story took us back into the cities, but at the same time for the majority of the narrative Lena is captured, or on the run, and even though this comes with the territory of a Freedom Fighter, there are several occasions where she should quite easily have died. There are many occasions where you think 'how are they going to get out of this'? As a good storyteller Oliver keeps you guessing as to how, but unfortunately you always know that somehow they will. As much as I didn't want to compare this storyline to Julianna Baggott's Pure I can't help but think about it when reading any dystopia now. Baggott is a brave storyteller, she isn't afraid to kill off main characters, heartlessly and brutally. I believe that if you're creating a world where a Father would kill his own son, you need to take those chances. In fact, I did feel that Delirium did this to some extent and it was a shame to lose the brutality of the raids.

I also felt that in terms of the Deliria itself, Lena just repeats itself. She gives in to the same dangers as before and it annoyed me somewhat. I thought that the introduction of Julian was brilliant, he gives us a personal insight into the DFA, but he is like a puppy, easily led and moulded. Although he has moments of bravery he is essentially a liability, and for Lena the tables seemed to have turned: one of the reasons she appeared to love Alex was because he protected her, he took her away from everything she hated and gave her a reason to live. Now she has become Alex and Julian is that boy that needs saving. I would have been happier to see Lena and Julien develop a different kind of love, one of best friends or brother and sister, rather than a romantic one. But this is just a niggling personal opinion. And who knows, maybe this will be integral to the next book...

I will carry on reading this series, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Even though I seem to have said a few negative things about this book, I still did really like it. Oliver's writing seems to be getting stronger and I just want to see her taking more chances in the next book. Onwards and upwards!


  1. I have my review copy of this to read - I'm really looking forward to it.
    I'm doing a review copy challenge in March though, so I've been saving it for this. Nothing but review books for a whole month! :)

    1. Ooh! Have a ball, I'll be interested to see what you've recieved.