Aly in Wonderland


Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver Actual rating: 2.5

“Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you - sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.”

[b:Pandemonium|9593911|Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)|Lauren Oliver||14480923] really surprised me. For me, it sort of fixed some of the issues I had with [b:Delirium|11614718|Delirium (Delirium, #1)|Lauren Oliver||10342808]:

- Lena's personality & attitude
- The Instalove (although it is, as always, ever present in Pandemonium too)
- The storyline.

I'm going to start with the first issue. In Delirium Lena was portrayed as THE most annoying, whining character I had ever set my eyes on. She was far too insecure and flat to sympathise with and she was, above all, incredibly boring. In the entirety of the first book, I waited with bated breath to see if she would change and become a better person. That didn't happen.

But it happened in Pandemonium. The story picks up where we left off: Lena managed to pass the border into the Wilds. She's hurt, hungry and thirsty and faints. We're immediately introduced to new characters: Raven, the 'boss', her 'boyfriend' Tack, Sara (a 12 year old that had grown up in the Wilds) and a much younger girls, Blue, as well as another bunch of characters that don't play as big a part as these ones. They look after Lena, fix her up and feed her what they can, and show her how to survive.

Lena blooms beneath Raven's tutelage: she becomes stronger, wiser and more independent. She learns how to make do with what they have, and to always put the group's safety, especially the children, before herself. She's smarter, harsher and harder. She takes Raven's words to heart and builds a new life around them:

"There is no before."

So with the knowledge that the past is dead, she rebuilds an entirely knew existence. To that, I salute you, Lena.

My second point was the instalove factor that is so prominent these days. The Alex's and Lena's relationship in the first book seemed so forced and fake, that I could not for the life of me be interested in it. Especially when Alex supposedly dies at the end, I felt absolutely nothing apart from a spark of relief. The relationship itself happened so quickly that it never gave me, as a reader, the chance to relate to these two love struck teenagers.

In Pandemonium we're introduced to new love interest Julian Fineman. He's the son of the president of the DFA (Delirium-Free America) movement. For most of his life, he battled against the cancer that had taken up residence in his body and, as a sick kind of sponsorship, he becomes the face of the DFA: the true sick boy going ahead with the cure, even if it means death. Lena's job is to stalk him Actually, I'm not entirely sure on why she had to befriend him. The point I did understand was that the Resistance needed him as an ally or something.

Anyway. In a sick twist of fate, they both end up prisoners of a group of people called the Scavengers. They're like the Invalids, except they don't really care for the movement, just themselves. Lena hates Julian and he has no idea who she is, which works out in her favour for when he does find out. However the attraction isn't there until they've been prisoners for a little while. Only then do they see each other as potential significant others and not enemies, and so the love begins.

What I didn't like about this was how Julian was portrayed as a weirdo/rebound for Lena, especially since I liked Julian a thousand times better than I liked Alex. Julian not only gives up his existence within the cured world to be with her, he also tries his damn hardest to make her happy.

Here is an example of the creepy factor:

"'Wait,' he calls out, and something about the the tone of his voice - a note of command, and also of urgency - stops me. 'Wait,' he repeats more softly... I know I should put on my shirt, but I can't move. I can hardly breathe.
'I've never been able to look before,' Julian says simply. ... 'Your waist is so small.'

"'Your hair smells like roses.'"


Yep. Now you understand why the ladies don't fall at your feet, right?

Oh, right. That's illegal.

So yeah, although there is that ever present instalove capturing the young, innocent hurts of every single YA character, there is something about the way it was done that I liked.

My third, and last, point was the storyline.

The storyline itself is no better than in the first book, but the fact that we're faced with new characters, new plots and a new Lena makes it slightly better. What I didn't understand at all was the whole 'Then' and 'Now' chapters, especially since there wasn't a point where the two halves met. 'Then' ends randomly at some point in time, and 'Now' picks up, at the end, at an even more random time.

The one thing I loved MOST of all about this book was that god-damn cliffhanger at the end. If it weren't for the cliffhanger, I would've DNF'd this series and wouldn't have bothered with the last book.

But tell me, how am I supposed to resist this?

"'Promise me we'll stay together, okay?' His eyes are once again the clear blue of a perfectly transparent pool. They are eyes to swim in, to float in, forever. 'You and me.'
'I promise,' I say.
Behind us the door creaks open, and I turn around, expecting Raven, just as a voice cuts through the air: 'Don't believe her.'

... Alex.

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