Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

If you read my review of Delirium, you know that as soon as I finished it, I ran out that night to buy Pandemonium.  I could not wait to read the continuation of Lena's story.  I stayed up late last night to finish Pandemonium, and now I have to wait a possible 10 FULL MONTHS to read the conclusion in Requiem!  Oh, Lauren Oliver, how you torture me so!!

Pandemonium picks up right where Delirium left us.  Lena has made it across the border fence into "The Wilds."  She has escaped the love-less world of Portland and her "procedure" to remove the part of her brain that allows her to feel emotion.  With the help of Alex, who makes the ultimate sacrifice to save Lena, she now is free for the first time.  Lena, however, is barely alive when found by Raven and the group of "Invalids" who have made a life together in the Wilds.  They take her in, bring her back to health, and Lena slowly becomes a part of this nomadic family.
Life in the Wilds, Lena quickly learns, is not easy.  It is harsh, dangerous, even life-threatening.  The group travels south for the winter, and then Lena becomes part of the resistance.  She takes on a new identity in New York city, blends in with the "cureds," and then works to infiltrate one of their extreme activist group, the DFA.  When Lena is kidnapped with Julian, the son of the DFA's leader, she must rely on her new survival skills and perhaps a partnership with Julian, if they are going to make it out alive.

I think there are several things that really sets this series apart from other dystopian stories.  Of course, there is the premise... the idea that society, in an effort to keep from falling apart, has created a world without love or freedom.  As Raven says--a world of zombies.
There is also Lena.  Lena, who is strong and complex; who changes as the story and her world change.   The world Lauren Oliver created in Delirium is very different from the Wilds in Pandemonium.  A testament to Ms. Oliver's writing skill, Lena changes and develops right along with the story.  She is hardened, and stronger, and therefore I like her even more in this second novel.
And finally, there is Lauren Oliver's writing.  The beauty with which she puts words together continues to impress me in this book.  From Pandemonium:
“I read once about a kind of fungus that grows in trees. The fungus begins to encroach on the systems that carry water and nutrients up from the roots to the branches. It disables them one by one – it crowds them out. Soon, the fungus – and only the fungus – is carrying the water, and the chemicals, and everything else the tree needs to survive. At the same time it is decaying the tree slowly from within, turning it minute by minute to rot.

That is what hatred is. It will feed you and at the same time turn you to rot.

It is hard and deep and angular, a system of blockades. It is everything and total.

Hatred is a high tower. In the Wilds, I start to build, and to climb.” 

Beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  
The only thing that scares me (spoiler alert!)...
is the love triangle.  I am not a fan.  However, I am comforted by the conviction that Lauren Oliver will not disappoint.  I'm sure she will continue to surprise and impress me.  

I had a copy of Delirium on a staff recommendation display, and one of our high school students came up to me last week to tell me that she had picked it up, was in the middle of reading it and LOVED it.  This morning, I gave her my personal copy of Pandemonium, and we gushed about it and can't wait to discuss it after she finishes the second novel.  Thank you, Lauren Oliver!!!

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