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Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver Book Review

Updated on September 11, 2012


When it comes to the sequel of a novel, even the most seasoned author can end up writing a literary blunder. Even if their writing or creative skills haven’t seemed to diminish, they may take their story in a less than desirable place for their readers. Maybe there is information overload in the second book or so little is revealed that the reader feels as if anything they find out in the second book could have been added in the first book, saving them time and money. Characters can change too drastically, not enough, or not at all in a way that would make the reader continue to find them engaging, interesting or relatable. Or worse, the story itself could change into something unexpected or even more disappointingly, it would end up feeling like they’re reading the same story all over again. I’ve read enough trilogies by different authors over the years to make the assessment above, and with all that said, author Lauren Oliver fell into NONE of those traps with her novel Pandemonium. Her sequel to Delirium, in my opinion, is the perfect follow up to her wonderful first novel in her trilogy.

Her main character in both novels is Lena, and she is still the girl we met in Delirium, but she’s grown, evolving slowly chapter by chapter within Pandemonium from a naïve young girl to a knowledgeable young woman that has found that her entire upbringing had been a disorienting swirl of lies, deceptions that she could not turn a blind eye to, and that she could never return to. She’s a girl that left her home behind, or at least the place and people she’s once thought of as home, and is foraging ahead into unknown territory with fear, but courage as well.

Pandemonium doesn’t move along with the traditionally numbered chapter format with all its information in sequence, but it’s told in fragments, “Then” and “Now” chapters as Lena continues to narrate the series of events that took place right after the last book ended and where she is now in life. Some people may find this pattern annoying, but I understood what Oliver was convey and the parallels she drew in Lena’s experiences were subtle and brilliant. It was as if you were seeing the two different Lena’s side by side; Oliver didn’t want you to forget just how far Lena had come to get where she was in the second book. Lena’s struggles and triumphs stayed fresh in the readers’ minds as the story advanced.

In no way did I think the sequel to Delirium could have been any better than its predecessor, but Pandemonium far exceeded my expectations. Not only was a good book, but it was even better than the first one and I’m practically on edge waiting to read the third book.

The other thing about this book? It has a few similarities to The Hunger Games, but the story is carried out differently, and its progression, might I add, was better. Oliver didn’t lose sight of her main characters or the story she was telling that propelled them along and the two coexist in perfect harmony. The story development does not overpower the characters and their development or vice versa. I still feel as though I'm reading a young adult dystopian romance novel and it hasn't veered completely into different territory.

The progression of this story is nothing short of remarkable, absolutely amazing. I've now become an official fan of Oliver's work. I admire her efforts and I'm clamoring for more. However, I'll have to wait until March 5th of 2013 before I'll know what happens in the end, but I have no doubt that it's a story worth waiting for.

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