Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pandemonium is a YA book, the second release in the popular Delirium series. Its target audience seems to be teenage girls and judging by the other reviews I'd say it impressed that group of readers. This series, by Lauren Oliver, is the story of a young woman, Lena, who lives sometime in the future after a ruthless, dictatorial government has taken over the United States and has banned love. At age eighteen anyone living in one of the government controlled areas must undergo a cure, which is a brain operation that limits their emotions. There are, however, areas outside the major population centers called the Wilds. In these places the people still have their emotions and their freedom, but they have to struggle to find food and shelter and they have to put up with constant attacks from the cities.

I liked both of the books I've read in this series because Lauren Oliver has done an excellent job of getting into the mind of Lena. In Pandemonium Lena has matured somewhat. When this book begins she needs help to recover from what she experienced in the first book, but once she works her way through that she becomes a much stronger person. She has a relationship with a young man, Julian, who needs her help to deal with both emotional and practical problems. I liked that because in Delirium she was the one who needed to get her strength from someone else.

The book bounces back and forth between sections entitled Then which are set in the time when Lena was first in the Wilds and sections entitled Now which are set after she has regained her strength and is part of the resistance. Yet Pandemonium is consistently written in the present tense, keeping an intensity throughout the novel.

The rat-man stops. He doesn't look at us, but I see his shoulders rise and fall: an inaudible sigh. “They'd already taken her from me once,” he says quietly. “I didn't want to lose her again.”

I have the urge to lay my hand on his shoulder and say, I understand. But the words seem stupid. We can never understand. We can only try, fumbling our way through the tunneled places, reaching for light.

I had a few problems with the book that had to do with too many coincidences and situations that required suspension of disbelief, but the character of Lena is strong enough to keep the pages turning. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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