Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After reading Delirium, I wasn't too sure I wanted to read the sequel. The last book left Lena escaping Portland, her home city in a futuristic world where love is considered a disease. In Delirium, I enjoyed that Lena was just an average teenager struggling to reconcile her emotions with the law and not part of a larger political movement. But now, she's an outcast, a criminal, and a part of the Resistance.
I could go on to say how this book just isn't like the last one, but this took off on a completely different note, so I don't think the two need to be compared. Lena has been hardened by the total abandonment of her former life and the loss of Alex. The book is divided into two story-lines, the "Then" and the "Now." In "Then," she has just arrived in The Wilds and is taken in by a small group of members of Invalids--others who have escaped society. From them she learns how much is really on the line and how much she must adapt in order to survive on the outside. This was the story-line that interested me less. It was a lot of Lena adapting to her new life and a bridge to the later action. This really dragged for me because I'm not a fan of Oliver's world building. Dystopia is a popular genre right now and there wasn't much about this that set it apart.
In the "Now," Lena and two other Invalids from her group are disguised as cured civilians in New York City. Their mission: to keep an eye on Julian Fineman, the son of the man behind the largest anti-love organization in America. We all knew this love triangle was coming. With Alex gone at the end of Delirium, Lena is struggling to move on and find meaning to her life again, and now, her entire plot is a struggle for survival alongside Julian. All right, I'll say it: I'm Team Julian. I was never a huge fan of the Alex/Lena romance because they seemed to fall in love just because they could and not because they had actual chemistry. I'm not saying this romance doesn't feel a forced, too, but I think both characters evolve and grow together more in this story than Lena and Alex did in theirs. Either way, the pacing was handled well and my usual "OMG kiss already!" fangirl was at the edge of her seat the whole time. But romance aside, the dystopia element was still weak. The action just copped out a lot. I won't get into too much detail, but I will say this: no one actually leaves a hint to their lock combination next to their lock. Oliver tried to pass this off twice and I wasn't buying it.
All this said, the book held my interest and I got through it in about a day. The characters were interesting enough to get me through the weaker points of the plot and there were a few twists thrown in that actually caught me by surprise. And I'll warn you: there's a killer cliffhanger, so we'll all be biting our nails until Requiem comes out!
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