Friday, 14 June 2013

Review | Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My Rating:

Lena's been to the very edge. She's questioned love and the life-changing and agonising choices that come with it.

She's made her decision. But can she survive the consequences?

Pandemonium is the second novel in Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy set in a dystopian world in which love  - or the deliria as it is known - has been declared a disease. Closeness between boys and girls is prohibited and when they reach eighteen they go through a prodecure that stops them from feeling love altogether. They are paired off into loveless marriages and live the rest of their lives unable to feel passion.
     At the end of the first novel (now would be a good time for those of you who have yet to start the trilogy to stop reading) our heroine Lena is left to escape to the Wilds alone after Alex is shot. The second novel in the trilogy takes place between two time frames; one from when Lena is discovered by the other Wildlings and another six months later where she is posing as a cured in New York as part of the resistance.

     As it was in Delirium Oliver's writing style is beautiful. Even if you're not a fan of the plot these books are worth a read simply for the way in which they are told. Her way of storytelling is pretty and poetic; to put it simply, they are a joy to read.
     Oliver should also be congratulated on her character development. Lena is not only one of my favourite dystopian heroines but one of my favourite heroines period. When we first begin the trilogy Lena cannot wait to be cured, as a reader would expect from a girl who has been raised to believe that love is a disease - one that tore her mother from her - she whole-heartedly believes that love is dangerous and that it causes people to hurt, maim and kill in its name. She starts out as a rather meek but believable heroine who gradually changes throughout the course of Delirium, when it comes to Pandemonium Lena has run into the Wilds and it becomes necessary for her to grow tougher.
     Unlike many heroines out there Lena's character progression feels natural and real. This is how I would expect a person to develop if they were thrust from a controlled, civilised environment to a wilderness brimming with escapees. It was a delight to read, in fact my favourite chapters in Pandemonium were the ones which focused on Lena's life during her first six months in the Wilds rather than the ones which focused on her in New York city.
     Lena is not the only person in the Wilds, of course, and though she sometimes irritated me I liked Raven - the leader of this particular group of Invalids - a lot. There was something rather Katniss Everdeen about her, possibly to compensate for Lena's innate gentleness as we no longer have Hana to fill such a role, and she complimented Lena nicely; the reader is able to see the difference between someone new to the Wilds and someone who is accustomed to the harsh lifestyle that they face in pursuit of freedom.
     One of the main reasons that this book was a disappointment for me compared with the first book - which was one of my favourite reads last year - was Julian, Lena's new love interest. When reading Delirium I felt real chemistry between Alex and Lena, but the relationship between Lena and Julian felt weak in comparison; it felt forced simply for the sake of bringing in a new love interest, because apparently not enough YA dystopian trilogies have more than one love interest these days. Personally I felt as though they fell in love far too quickly, especially when compared with the romantic relationship we saw develop throughout the first novel.
     I was really hoping that Oliver would forget bringing in a new love interest and instead focus on the relationship between Lena and her mother who, by the end of the first novel, we have discovered is still very much alive. Considering so much of Lena's fear of love and so much of her life has been shaped by her mother's absence I was hoping for a reunion which would allow the book to focus on the love between a mother and her daughter rather than a pair of lovers. After all it isn't only romantic relationships that the cure for the deliria destroys, it also destroys the ways that families and friends interact with one another to the extent that they are no longer the same people. To me that is just as haunting as no longer being able to love your lover and I felt as though familial and platonic love was glossed over more than it should have been.
     All in all Pandemonium is not a bad sequel, but it's not an amazing one either. I chose to continue with the trilogy because I adored the first book so much, however the first book, despite perhaps not having the happiest of endings, does have a beautifully bittersweet finality to it. I would highly suggest reading Delirium and only Delirium, as Pandemonium falls rather flat in comparison.
     Thanks for reading! J.

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