Monday, March 19, 2012

Review of Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.  Harper, 2012.
The “old” Lena is dead; a “new” Lena has been born.  This one is tougher and stronger.  She must forget about her old life and Alex; instead, she must focus on surviving in The Wilds, with the help of her new friends, who are part of the resistance.  This time, Invalids are fighting not only “The Cured”, but Scavengers, and a group calling themselves the DFA—Delirium Free America, as well.  Finding food and keeping safe are much harder now; hunger, secrecy, and fleeing become the norm.
When Lena and Julian Fineman, the leader of the DFA youth division, are captured and imprisoned, they must put aside their differences and work together to escape.  What they discover, however, is that not everything is what it seems.  Even the resistance and the DFA are hiding unbelievable secrets of their own!

Pandemonium is the second installment in the Delirium series, and it begins right were the first book ended.  Lena has made it to The Wilds without Alex, but she is wounded and must scrape her way through forest and underbrush.  She is eventually discovered by members of the resistance and nursed back to health.

The chapters are told in alternating time periods—Now and Then.  “Now” is the story taking place in the present time.  It is the story of Lena infiltrating the DFA and learning all she can about them.  “Then” is the back story—what happens following her escape from The Cured society.   This back and forth among the chapters was a little confusing at first, but once I got used to it, I decided it really works.  Near the end, the two stories merge and are told only in “Now”.  Without giving the book away, I will say that this part of the book was extremely suspenseful.  It was very insightful of Lauren Oliver to organize the plot this way.
Many new characters were introduced in this book, and a new love interest is thrown in for Lena.  Raven, who is the unofficial leader of the group that Lena joins up with, is a strong female character and role model.  Near the end, I did not like her as much, but as the story ran its course, I changed my opinion of her.  The same goes for Julian, the handsome son of DFA Leader, Thomas Fineman.  Julian seemed very cold and understandably stand-offish at first, but changed as the story  unfolded; I ended up loving him!  Also, I wonder if there is some veiled “tongue-in-cheek” reason  the last name of Fineman was chosen for both Julian and his father??

The descriptions of the underground prison, the tunnel dwellings, and its inhabitants were dark and mysterious.  The author has a true gift for painting intricate pictures with her choice of words.  This book seems to have more action than Delirium, which really kept me turning the pages!  As I read very last page of the book, I realized that there is a surprise twist, and I could hear in the background imaginary dramatic chords…”Dah, Dah, DAAAAAH”!!  I cannot wait for the 3rd book!!!!!!
Fans of this series will not be disappointed!  I highly recommend it for high school and public libraries!