Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I hope you’re ready for this one when you pick it up. It hits the ground running (well, actually, it hits the ground sleeping), but there’s no time to regain your footing if you’re not paying attention. We all know the ending of Delirium (and if you don’t, stop reading this right now! Not because I’m going to give away spoilers [I’ll try not to], but because you need to get off the Internet and go read Delirium!), and Pandemonium picks up. . .well, actually not right where we were left off. We start some unknown amount of time in the future, and Lena is. . .Lena is in school? In a city? What? What happened? Where’s my copy of Delirium? Did I miss something? What’s going on?

These are the deliciously bothersome questions I was asking 3 pages in.

The story is told in an irksome back-and-forth between Then and Now. It’s irksome because we start with Now, which is actually the future from where we left off. The Then is what we would associate with the present. But it’s that good kind of irksome, like when someone teases you by keeping a sealed envelope just out of your reach. You wish they would just show you what’s inside, but you’re enjoying the chase and will enjoy the discovery that much more. I often felt that way as I was trying to connect the dots between Then and Now.

We find our heroine, Lena, alternating between finding her way in the Wilds and just trying to survive, and part of an underground resistance group who seems to be quite interested in the happenings of Julian Fineman (a 17-year old scheduled to be cured soon; he’s also the youth leader of a group trying to allow the cure to be given even younger). Soon, it seems as though Lena is playing the part of Alex to Julian, but not by conscious choice, and certainly not with the same intensity.

I don’t want to get too much more into the plot. If you liked Delirium, you’ll read and probably like Pandemonium, so I don’t really need to sell anyone on this.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I thought there were some things that didn’t quite work (the relationship between Lena and Julian [I don’t mean dating relationship, so don’t worry about spoilers or misleading comments here; I just mean the way they work with each other] didn’t seem genuine, the way Lena is treated by Tuck and Raven seems a bit contrived), but there were far more things that did work (the aforementioned Now and Then, the real emotion from everyone in the Wilds, the way Julian is just so ignorant). I didn’t like it as much as I did Delirium, but I think that’s largely because there’s no new ground to break here. Oliver already introduced the world, so now it’s just a matter of continuing to explore it. And exploring it with her masterful hand as our guide is pretty fun 🙂

I recommend this book to anyone who, like me, is loving all the YA dystopian that has been coming out lately. This is one that’s near the top of the pile as far as quality is concerned. There are a few curses (ranging the entire gamut), but I think this is still fine for middle schoolers and up.

My rating: 4 out of 5 fish. Okay, it’d really be 4 1/2, but I don’t do halves. So it’s 4 out of 5. If you don’t like it, write your own review (and then share it with me, because I’d love to read it!).

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