Saturday, March 3, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

 By Lauren Oliver
February 28, 2012
HarperCollins, 384 pgs
Goodreads Description: "I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
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.
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite."

Here’s the breakdown: 

Plot: This was really different from Delirium, but it was refreshing and I loved it! The chapters switch back and forth from "then" which begins only moments after the end of Delirium, and "now" which is approximately six months in the future. The "then" sections did an interesting job showing us how Lena grows accustomed to life in the wilds and the shock she feels at living in a world where love, physical contact, and even nakedness are common occurrences. The "now" section dives into a new, reformed Lena, living in New York and acting as an undercover agent for the rebellion. The "then" chapters were slower moving, but so descriptive and at time, achingly emotional. The "now" chapters, however, were fast paced and gripping, and once I got into the action I could. not. put. it. down. I was there right along side Lena.

Characters: Lena's character grows leaps and bounds. Literally transforms into a superhero version of the quiet, obedient Lena we met at the beginning of Delirium. And the cast of new characters was amazing. Raven and Tack were strong characters who each carried an era of mystery around them, and I yearned for answers concerning their pasts. All the other characters we meet at the homestead in the wilds were equally captivating. Now...Julian. He was fabulous. From the moment we're introduced to him, he's interesting and has this complicated, multifaceted background/personality. As the novel progressed, Julian opened up to Lena and we learn a lot about him. He has enough conflict and emotional baggage for five characters! One issue I did have, though, was how easily and quickly their relationship seemed to happen. It seemed like it developed because it was supposed to and not because there was any relationship building, chemistry, etc. The chemistry certainly comes later in droves, but as they're getting to know each other, I felt like it lacked some sincerity.

Writing style: Lauren's writing style is just as stunning. The world she weaves is beautiful, as are the characters. And she's a master weaver of a realistic dystopian America.  The "then" and "now" style was rough sailing there at the beginning. I would just begin to get into the plot and the characters and--bam! We're suddenly in a new plot with new characters, six months in the future. About 1/3 of the way through, however, I was totally absorbed. In both plot lines. In the end, the now and then worked well to get in all the info we needed about Lena's adaptation and transformation, while still enabling us to jump into the plot and not get caught up in the opening exposition. And the ending....what can I say? It killed me. I was reading Pandemonium on my nook, which I promptly chucked across my bed. I feel like a multitude of ya books these days use the crazy cliffhanger gag to ensure readers for the sequels, and I do think it's unnecessary. Readers will still buy the sequels if you give your second book an actual ending. There will still be plot threads left hanging without the sudden cliffhanger. Even still, I loved Pandemonium and I'm dying for Requiem!


It hurts so good :)

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