Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Pandemonium

PANDEMONIUM (Delirium #2)
Lauren Oliver
Young Adult/Dystopian
375 pages
Available February 28th
Received from publisher for review

Warning: review contains spoilers from Delirium, but no spoilers from Pandemonium.

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The old Lena is dead. The old Lena remains with Alex in Portland, Maine, behind a wall of smoke and flame, but the new Lena was born in the Wilds, transformed by hardship, deprivation, and loss.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena fights for a world in which love will no longer be considered a dangerous disease. Her inner life is as turbulent as the world around her. . . . Although consumed with grief for Alex, might she be falling in love with someone else?

While Delirium introduced us to a world where the pursuit of perfection resulted in the elimination of the very emotions that make life worth living, Pandemonium takes us back to a place where the rawness of pain, love and loss is a tangible thing–the memory of what was within Lena's grasp and then ripped away a companion dogging our every step as we follow her through her life after Alex. Delirium gave us shells of human beings, individuals bottled up tight and sealed with a cure lest a modicum of independent thought or feeling slip through, but with Pandemonium we get a new cast of characters not hindered by the regulations governing those inside the fences. More interestingly however, we get a new Lena. A Lena who used to subscribe to the deceptively appealing poison spouted by proponents of the cure but who now survives with memories of the boy she loved piercing her skin every time her mind drifts back to him, turning her into a sieve through which pour all the tragically beautiful droplets of Alex and his sacrifice.

Ms. Oliver does a stunning job of crafting an Alex-free story, showing us just how strong-willed Lena is without him there to help her navigate a world where touch is encouraged instead of forbidden, and where love leaves scars that are not to be feared but cherished instead. While we may have physically cringed upon reading the synopsis and learning of a possible new love interest for Lena, we quickly realize there is going to be no quick fix for the destruction left in the wake of Alex’s demise, and we take a sort of comfort in her obvious pain knowing she’s clearly no more ready to move on than we are. Chapters split into two time periods in Lena’s life—the time immediately following Lena’s escape over the fence and a few months into the future as she’s on assignment for the resistance—give us action-packed glimpses of a transformed young woman, and it’s easy to find ourselves supporting her in her mourning, her resolve to take advantage of Alex’s gift, and her attempts to build a new life from the literal ashes of her previous one.

New potential love interest Julian is in much the same place Lena was in Delirium, a parrot repeating the ideals and doctrines of a grossly confused society while harboring secret thoughts of what life might be like if things were different. He’s perfectly likeable and his relationship with Lena builds at a slow enough pace to give us time to adjust to him, allowing our damaged and love-shy hearts to warm at an acceptable speed so we don’t feel like our fledgling attraction to Julian is a betrayal of Alex. Though he doesn’t completely win us over in this second installment, he does a multitude of small things that go a long way to helping Lena heal, and for that alone we begin to let him through our Alex-plated defenses.

Though Pandemonium definitely has the feel of a book building us up for what are sure to be epic events in the next installment, Ms. Oliver gives us plenty of new information and creates enough new strong and intriguing relationships to ensure this story isn’t simply filler. We do end with yet another emotional cliffhanger, one we sense coming but one that still hits us like a fist to the gut nonetheless. The final three words spoken are a painful mockery of the words "I love you" that were such a vital part of Delirium, each word tumbling from the speaker’s lips in a way that causes us to erupt in a full body shudder as the venom in them leaves us cold and broken with no other course of action but to wait and see what kind of response they will receive in book three.

Rating: 4.5/5


  1. I'm skipping your review b/c I still haven't read Delirium. It's horrible of me. I have it sitting on my shelf but haven't picked it up.

  2. Delirium was one of my favorite books of last year so I can't wait to see what Pandemonium has in store. I will say though that I really loved Alex so I'm not sure how I feel about Lena having another love interest. I will definitely be picking up a copy of Pandemonium as soon as it comes out though. Great review!

  3. I love Delirium and can't wait to read Pandemonium. But I don't really like the fact that Lena with someone else because I love Alex. I hope Pandemonium is as good as Delirium.

  4. Glad to hear you loved this one, Jenny! Delirium was a little slow for me at times, but I loved the ending, so I'm looking forward to reading this one.

    A new love interest, eh, dunno how I feel about that. I'm quite fond of Alex!

  5. Oh my gosh, Jenny! I loved Delirium (and Alex!) so much that hearing Lena was bound to fall for another guy kind of scared me, so I'm really glad to hear that her romance with Julian is slow-building to give us time to adjust -- I think that's exactly what Alex-fans like us will need! It sounds like Julian is one of those sweet YA boys, so now I'm not as opposed to meeting him as before. <3 :)

    Absolutely beautiful review, Jenny!! I should probably wait a while before reading this book so the cliffhanger won't kill me as much... but after reading your review, I don't think I CAN wait! x) <3

  6. This series on my maybe to try list for this year in YA! You review makes it sound amazing :)

  7. but jenny. don't think i'm ready for her to move on. poor alex. arghhhh! *sulks in corner*

  8. Alison - I hope you get a chance to read it soon, I really enjoyed it:)

    Tiffany - Mine too! I wasn't sure about Julian either, but it's not as bad as you think, I promise:)

    Dinda - I love Alex too, and I was extremely worried about Julian, but she does a brilliant job writing the whole situation:)

    Leanna - Delirium was slow at times for me as well, as was this one, but I was so caught up with the characters that I didn't mind those slower moments. They gave me time to breathe:)

    Mimi - Julian is hard to dislike, she kind of doesn't give you a choice, you just have to warm to him:) And that last page just about killed me. I die just thinking about it!

    Felicia - I highly recommend it!

    Aly - ME EITHER!!! I love Alex so much, but very interesting things happen in this one:)

  9. I worried about Lena out there on her own and kind of thought Alex would escape and join her there. No, I guess. That'd be third book material. Not thrilled about the upcoming love triangle but at least Jullian's a good kid and serves a purpose in helping Lena heal!

  10. Hmm..I had a "meh" reaction to Delirium and I think it was because I had read Matched earlier. I thought Oliver's world building was a bit sketchy and holey at times, but I'm willing to give it another shot. My guess is Lena's living her life under the assumption of what she *thinks* happens and moves forward. I'm glad this one is more action driven and there's a new love interest. I think I'm one of the few who *liked* Alex but didn't *love* him.

  11. I had to skim over your review, even though you mentioned it was spoiler-free. I would rather not know anything else before I have read it myself. I'm so pleased that you have given it such a high rating. That's definitely reassuring. :) I am itching to get this book in my hands as soon as possible.

  12. I can't wait to read this one .. The ciffhanger at the end of Delirium nearly killed me and I've been ding to read Pandemonium ever since !! I've pre-ordered my copy of this one ast week and I'm hoping to receive it soon :) !!
    Thanks for the review Jenny (I have to admit that I read only the end of it because I was afraid of the spoilers) !! :)

  13. Mary - The third book should be very interesting:)

    Rummanah - It's not for everyone! You might find this one interesting though since Alex isn't in it:)

    Sam - It is spoiler free, I try to make all my reviews spoiler free since they usually go up before the book is released:) I really enjoyed this one, I had my reservations based on that synopsis, but it was fabulous.

    Elodie - No spoilers:) Hope you love it as much as I did!

  14. I have a hard time believing Alex is completely gone--but I haven't read this one yet, so maybe you know something I don't yet. What I can say is that, if book three turns the whole thing into a ginormous love triangle...I'll be very unhappy!

    Great review!

  15. Ohh, Pandemonium. I liked it even better than Delirium! I agree that Julian wasn't quite as great as Alex was, but I still liked him. I can't wait for book three, especially with that cliffhanger! Eep!

  16. I'm dying to read this one! But I'm completely terrified cause I just know its going to be a totally emotional ride.

  17. Jenny I have yet to pick up this series. I want to...I guess I a, hesitating a bit because I kmow there are a couple of big cliffhangers...Your last line in the review made it perfectly clear that this book had a vicious bite at the end. Sigh.. why do authors torture us so? I am definitely reading this series but I may just keep waiting until we are a bit closer to book 3 so I am not tortured so much!

  18. I haven't read Delirium yet so I kind of glossed over this review, but I'm happy to hear that Pandemonium isn't just a filler story. I loved the way your review phrased the ending, Jenny!

  19. Oh, I don't dare reading this one as I have yet to read Delirium! LOL, I wanna know as little as possible when going in. I can't wait to finally have the time to pick it up, because it sounds amazing and Pandemonium definitely seems like it's living up to it. :)

  20. I haven't read your review, because I don't want to know anything! I want no expectations, or insights going into this novel. I loved Delirium, and can't wait until next week!

  21. I love it when female characters aren't defined by the guy, like even when he isn't around she stands on solid ground.

    I have yet to read this series, but this gives me a lot to look forward to. :)

  22. *waiting for my copy to arrive*
    I need to know what happens!

  23. EECKK, EPE and EECKK. I seriously am so thrilled about reading this book. Delirium was on my best of for 2011 so I cant wait to dive back in and find out how Oliver plays out the story.....Thanks for the super review Jenny...:D

  24. Ruby - I will be most unhappy if we have a huge love triangle too, but based on this book, if we do, it will be a well done triangle:)

    Lauren - I did as well. I couldn't put this book down!

    Candace - I was the same way! It took me a while to work up the courage to start even though I couldn't wait to find out what happened:)

    Heidi - It's a really wonderful series I think:) The cliffhangers are definitely rough, but they do what they're supposed to and have me salivating for the next book.

    Zahida - No filler here! At least I didn't think so. Plenty still happened even though we were being set up for book 3.

    Rebecca - Can't wait to find out what you think when you finally get to read these!

    Jennifer - I'll be looking for your review:)

    Missie - Me too! I just really liked Lena in general, especially how she dealt with her grief over Alex.

    Linda - YAY!!!!

    Tina - Can't wait to compare notes with you, you'll have to email me as soon as you've finished it!

  25. Oh, thank goodness! I was so worried that the new love interest would just be introduced like that, as being completely equal to Alex shortly after the events of Delirium. Glad that she takes it slow, because I wouldn't be able to stand it otherwise!

  26. I still need to read Delirium. I hate cliffies and an emotional one???? Kill me. :( I do think that I will read it but I will have book 3 in hand before starting this one.

  27. I had no idea there was a Julian in Pandemonium! Consider me INTRIGUED by him. Dying to read this book like yesterday! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

    Ashelynn @ Gypsy Book Reviews.

  28. OMG! Loved this book! WOOHOO!

    And the ending!!!! AHHHHH!

    Nice review Jenny :)

  29. Yours is one of the more positive reviews of this book that I've read. Others have said enough didn't happen in it. I have the first book, but don't know if I should start the series yet or just wait for the whole thing. I know I just read some spoilers, but that was my choice. I think I want to read this series. I can't imagine those three words at the end. I'm very interested thanks to your review. Think I'll read it!

    Of course, you must know, since you swayed me, that it is a great review!


  30. OMG! Jenny! I NEED to read Delirium NOW. Fine... Starting it... I don't know, when I'm supposed to be sleeping tomorrow? LOL

  31. Lauren did a great job with an "Alex-free" world like you said! Gosh, I just loved this book so much! Totally agree with you Jenny, this book isn't a filler! I couldn't have said it better myself!

  32. I couldn't believe how much I loved Delerium and just won a copy of Pandemonium today! Can't wait until it arrives! Great review! I'm looking forward to this read even more now!!


  33. I can't wait to make time to read this, esp after your review.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  34. Totally agree, re: the new love interest. I was soooo upset, but thankfully reading the book it was a lot less painful than I expected. It was totally done in a really interesting and real way. I just loveddd this 2nd instalment, and I totally want to re-read it after reading your review. =D

  35. Gah! I am dying to get my hands on the next book in this series! This book killed me. I totally missed Alex through the whole book. And that ending, ARGH! That very last word just about did me in. Can't wait to get my finished copy so I can reread it! Beautiful review, Jenny!

  36. Hmm, the sound of that ending is making me nervous. Emotional cliffhangers are the worst ;)

    Wonderful review, Jenny! Your review has gotten me even more excited for the release :D

  37. I was in the minority on Delirium, and now having read (and LOVED) Pandemonium, it feels even more just like a book of necessary backstory and worldbuilding. Unfortunate, but having the information and events of book one really amped things up for Pandemonium. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this one as much without having read Delirium, so I almost wish they could have combined. But that would have been one super long book!

  38. I love your reviews, but because of you, I'm out of space on my want list! I've been avoiding buzz about Delirium and Pandemonium so much because I fell so in love with Before I Fall that I'm just afraid to even attempt another book by the author for fear that it'll fall short. I can't do that so easily anymore.

  39. omg! luckyyy! i am skipping your review just because i havent had time to pick up pandemonium yet and I want to be able to compare thoughts later on :)

    Diana @ The Lovely Getaway