on March 14, 2012
I was completely captivated by Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver's second book in the Delirium trilogy. I devoured this in two sittings, the second resulting in me getting only 3 hours of sleep on a work night. (It was worth it!)
Often times with trilogies, I find the second book falls a bit flat. Not to say I don't enjoy them, I do, because usually at that point, I care about the characters and want to know what happens to them. But with Pandemonium, everything - romance, suspense, plot, development - is well handled. I feel this book could almost have been read as a stand alone (with a background knowledge of the world the characters find themselves in).
What I loved about Pandemonium:
It made me think, a lot.
I appreciated the references to events in Delirium. It's been a while since I read Delirium, so I don't remember specifics. There was just the right amount of refreshers in Pandemonium to help jog the memory.
The plot advancement really moves forward.
The manner in which the story is told: The chapters alternate between 'then' (directly following the conclusion of Delirium when Lena is forced to separate from Alex and enter the Wilds) and 'now' about 6 months later when she is living in New York moonlighting as a cured and working for the resistance. I thought this style of story telling was brilliant, and here's why: although I preferred 'now' I became interested in both timelines so it really pulls you in and encourages you to keep reading. There may be a mild cliffhanger at the end of a 'now' chapter, but you have to first power through the following 'then' chapter to find out what happens next in the 'now' chapter. Smart. Also, It helped to really advance the story while also allowing the reader to see what Lena went through directly following the events of Delirium.
Character development, I loved Lena's growth and her strength. She really comes into herself in this book.
Introduction of new characters: There are several new characters and, with the alternating timelines, it was challenging for me remember who's who, but eventually, (ok ok, with some back flipping;)), I got it. There are a couple standout new character editions.
The romance. I like romance in books, it doesn't have to be the focus, and it's not here, but it's there and I love the way the development, struggles, and internal dialogue was handled. I don't want to spoil anything so I'll stop here..
The beautiful prose. Lauren Oliver's writing is almost poetic. She describes things in such an awe-inspiring way. Lots of metaphors and dream-esque like nature inspired descriptions of feelings. That's what the writing made me think of anyway. It was just beautiful, but not distracting. Not overdone.
I could not put this book down. I was obsessed. It's been a few days since I've finished and although that's not very long, I can't stop thinking about it. I suspect that will remain true for quite some time - at least until I find myself another book to obsess over.
If I rated this solely on the can-not-put-down factor, I would have given 5 stars. I opted for 4 stars because there are some things that bothered me a bit (although didn't take away from the reading experience).
What irked me:
The main irking culprit is a time gap found between the different timelines. They do eventually converge, but there is missing 'in between' time. Perhaps this was intentional, but I want to know why and how Lena ended up where she did.
Secondary characters I believe could have been developed a bit more. I think strong secondary characters can add a lot to a story, they can give you, the reader, someone else to care about, someone else to want to learn more about, and can offer alternative perspectives - but if you don't care about these secondary characters yet - or understand them or who they are - their perspectives don't hold as much weight, you can't quite relate.... I hope that made sense. (think Mortal Instruments/Clockwork Angel worlds). I know I said I liked the new characters - and I do - but some could have been better developed. Again, maybe that is coming...
And, I can't communicate the last thing that irked me without making it a spoiler. so... I'll bite my tongue and call it a night.
If you like dystopians, like the romance factor, and intensity in your novels, pick this up, you won't be disappointed!