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Emma Maree Reviews: Pandemonium

pandemoniumBook: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium, Book #2

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Sci Fi/Dystopian/Romance

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and fame.
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

I love that title, even though I always feel like it needs an exclamation. Pandemonium! It’s such a great word:

pandemonium [ˌpændɪˈməʊnɪəm]


1. wild confusion; uproar
2. a place of uproar and chaos

[coined by Milton to designate the capital of hell in Paradise Lost, from pan- + Greek daimōn demon]
pandemoniac , pandemonic [ˌpændɪˈmɒnɪk] adj

I’ve had a complicated relationship so far with Lauren Oliver. While I loved her debut, “Before I Fall”, and the concept of “Delirium”, the actual book left me flat due to it’s confusing ending.  I also get grumpy about the UK cover redesigns, though “Pandemonium” and upcoming final book “Requiem” have much nicer covers and I’ve actually grown to like them and how they fit in with the “Before I Fall” cover.

Thankfully, “Pandemonium” was full of pleasant surprises. It’s a much tighter-written and ambitious book than “Delirium” was, alternating between the past and the present as Lena adjusts to a hard, scraping-for-survival life in the unregulated Wilds outside the city (‘before’) and sneaks into New York City to tail the son of the president of Deliria-Free America, an organisation that viciously promotes the idea that love is a disease and the only safe humans are those ‘cured’ by a lobotomy-like procedure (‘after’).

Lena is a stronger person, even as she deals with her grief over “Delirium”‘s events realistically, and she’s a much more enjoyable character to follow this time round. Oliver also expands the world laid out in the previous novel, taken it from a sketched-out dystopia into a realistic future society with a lot of moral grey areas.

The scenery descriptions are nicely done, though occasionally repetitive (snow seems to crackle a lot in the Wilds), and the new characters introduced are varied and feel like they have a lot of depth to them. The two story lines also alternated nicely, with very little opportunity for confusion, up until the merging point which felt a bit unclearly defined.

I’m very happy with how “Pandemonium” turned out. While a lot of middle trilogy books can be weak and plotless, “Pandemonium” is miles stronger than “Delirium” and restored my faith in Lauren Oliver’s writing. I’ll be looking forward to reading and reviewing “Requiem” closer to its March release date.

I bought a copy of this novel myself for personal reading, but I’ll note that Hodder & Stoughton have previously provided me with review copies of “Delirium” and “Requiem” in exchange for honest reviews.

“Delirium” Book Review

Delirium-HB“Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
Release Date:
Out now! Released 3rd Febuary 2011.
Genre: YA Romance (with dystopian elements)
Hodder & Stoughton

“What if love were a disease?”

That’s the tagline for “Delirium”, Lauren Oliver’s new novel exploring a life where love is ‘cured’ at the age of 18, and everyone continues their lives with a partial lobotomy. They don’t feel happiness, sadness, or anger. They live in apathetic calmness, living in arranged marriages, in assigned jobs, raising but not particularly caring about the children they’re responsible for bringing up.

After watching her mum fall victim to the disease and commit suicide, Lena can’t wait for the day she gets the cure. Until she does the unthinkable, and falls in love…

What I loved above all about “Delirium” is the slow and subtle ways it introduces you to the world. Throwaway lines from Lena’s narrative hint at the undercurrent of violence in the city, and chapters open with snippets of playground songs, government documents, and prayers from a Church that combines both Christianity and science.

I warmed to Lena instantly, then got a little tired of her naivety half-way through, before loving her again as the story headed towards the finale. There’s a nice contrast in characterisation in the story, because while all adults are dull and distant after their lobotomies, the younger characters are all unique and energetic, filling up the pages with their quirks and personalities.

Lauren also pays close attention to the portrayal of emotions in the story, spending time describing exactly how Lena feels in the situation. It draws attention to all of her emotions, descriptions of thoughts that will be lost if she’s cured. It fits perfectly with the theme of a world removed of emotion.

The end came as a bit of a surprise to me, and I wasn’t keen on it, but I’m looking forward to the sequels and hope that they’ll keep impressing me as well as providing more details about the futuristic setting of the books. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next!

A copy of “Delirium” was provided for this review by Hodder & Stoughton.