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Review: Pandemonium (#2)

The following review contains NO SPOILERS!

my thoughts in a few sentences: You may have already noticed, but it bears repeating: I couldn't rate this book. I tried, in vain, to think of which one suited best, but they all seemed inadequate. God, how do I even... I'm still IN SHOCK, so consuming and crushing that I don't know what to do with myself. I'd heard countless times that this book is so different from where Oliver first hooked us in Delirium, but I didn't believe the impact would be so astounding. New Lena, tears, death, life, joy, Julian, Alex, and A CLIFFHANGER ENDING THAT IS UNFATHOMABLE. I feel like a sob is going to break out of me at any moment. Requiem, the third book, is like a distant dream, one where my hope is—perhaps foolishly—staked.

hooking first line: " Alex and I are lying together on a blanket in the backyard of 37 Brooks. "

UNRATEABLE | HarperTeen • Ebook Purchase • Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic • 2/28/12 • $10.78


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 flame.

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.
A forewarning: No amount of reviews will equate to proper preparation for the sheer emotion, as bloody and gaping as any severe wound, and as equally striking, living in Pandemonium. The beauty of this sequel is so horribly, tortuously perfect, as sweetly poignant as letting go of someone important, or watching a younger sibling standing up on his or her own two feet, no longer needing a guiding hand, or leaving behind family to catch one's dreams. Necessary, exhilarating, and painful. Pandemonium is a never-ending punch to the gut, a beating we continue to beg for because it's the only way to keep the story alive and close, to peel away what bars us from the heartwrenching truth. The tears are relief from the intensity, soothing the grief coiled tight inside. And then joy slips in as well, surfacing in fresh love and purpose for our wonderful heroine, but sorrow is never too far behind in tribute to the tragedy that brought us all here, a deadly, flourishing seedling that began in Delirium's end.

We remember being sick and angry, hurt swelling in staggering, destructive tsunamis at our core for the shattering final moments of Delirium, so we are rightfully wary of what flavors we'll taste in this next chapter of Lena's life. Will we find sweetness, bitterness, sourness, saltiness or a combination of the lot? Will we be able to bear savoring the journey that brought Lena to the present and the one that helped her escape the past without fighting the urge to toss Pandemonium across the room? Reasonable questions that instigate the darkest thoughts of our minds, projecting images of the horrors that could potentially unfold, though we attempt to ignore the warnings.

Alternating between chapters of then and now, we are privy to Lena's rebirth, like watching a snake shedding its old skin, the new skin vulnerable at first, then toughening over time. Even after all her loss and hurt, however, Lena never drifts away, the person she is refusing to flee and leave behind an empty, impenetrable shell incapable of anything light and beautiful. Instead she takes her pain, her anger, her needs and morphs them into the driving force that brings her to where she is today. Pushing away her old life, burying the blockage of dark memories, and shifting into a stronger girl, Lena now embodies what it means to survive—the hard voyage and the end result. The plot never suffers for all the switching to and fro Pandemonium does; it serves as the perfect frustration, wonderful, trying, and inescapable. The story veers and flies and trips, catching on a heartwrenching moment at just the right time, pinwheeling into an emotional freefall and sucking us down with it as it drops.

Questions, questions, questions, beating, beating, in our heads, on our hearts, breathing all over every turn of the story. And the romance: revival, a new breath, a desirous need, happiness after wallowing in the forever black of our—ours and Lena's—shared sorrow. We fall in love anew, unable to compare two stories, two souls, two Lenas because they're both so lovely, delivering different feelings, tearing us in jagged bewildered halves. Bleeding, always bleeding, for Lena, for extra characters essential to her life, for the ones in her past that have no place in the now. For devastating choices, heart-numbing deaths, the emotionless herd of civilians that can't care, zombies that don't eat flesh but the love of their children, the untouched youth, the dying and deformed, the incurables.

Lauren's words, so fragile and flowing in a hardened world, with heartless people, are throbbing feelings that seep in and find room in our stuffed, close-to-brimming hearts. The importance of this fight for love, for choices and freedom, so profound in the stories of each new person we 'meet,' in relationships just formed. Hearts battered, souls weary, expressions seemingly immune to shock now, hope lifted, we stumble into the ending and shock once again takes us, punches us, pushes us to our knees, because the unthinkable drains us of thought, breath, and heartbeats.

Once, Lauren Oliver damaged us in Delirium, not quite destroying, but with those final sentences in Pandemonium, she masterfully wields a dagger of distress and impact, targets what's left of us, and becomes the perfect murderer.

"Are we going to die?" [Sarah] asks solemnly.
"Don't be stupid. You've relocated before."
"But the people on the inside of the fence..." She bites her lip. "They want to kill us, don't they?"
I feel something tighten inside of me, a spasm of deep hatred. I reach out and put a hand on her head. "They haven't killed us yet," I say, and I imagine that one day I will fly a plane over Portland, over Rochester, over every fenced-in city in the whole country, and I will bomb and bomb and bomb, and watch all their buildings smoldering to dust, and all those people melting and bleeding into flame, and I will see how they like it.
If you take, we will take back. Steal from us, and we will rob you blind. When you squeeze, we will hit.
This is the way the world is made now. (39%)


Caitlin Lomas said...

This is such a beautiful review, Asher, it must have taken you forever to write!!  I love how you managed to avoid all spoilers yet say things so relevant.

The Cait Files

Mimi Valentine said...

Oh gosh, Asher!!! I read the intro paragraph to your review and automatically thought, "I should not be reading this review!" because Pandemonium still hasn't arrived on my doorstep yet! But I ended up reading your review anyways, and it was PERFECTION. Lauren Oliver definitely has a way with words, and oh my sweet goshness, I think I'm going to hyperventilate going into this book!!

Beautiful review, Asher! Rating or no rating, I just CAN'T WAIT to get my hands on this one! ;) <3

Liz. R said...

Unrateable? That's it. This book is scaring me. EVERY review tells of the cliffhanger ending that makes them go crazy and the frustrating awesomeness and the heartbreak - and just ahhh! I need to read this but at the same time, I'm terrified to start it. Amazing review, Asher. 

Brodie said...

ASDGSFHJLDKHJ! AHSBD? ADBHHDF I DKF NRUI VNDIE? You get that? Good. It's about the only coherent thing I can say about this book and your review! AHHHHHHHHHHHH ASHERRRRRRRRRR! THE ENDING THE ENDING THE ENDING. EXACTLY what you wrote in your final paragraph. *is dead* I don't even... I can't... a year? We have to wait an effing year on that note? It's not FAIR :(

Incredible review, like Cait said, you avoid all spoilers yet beautifully capture the essence of the story. And oh, I loved how Lena grew in this and the emotional impact the entire novel had on both her and us. 

I am really terrified at how Lauren is going to end things in Requiem. I honestly can't guess and that not-knowing is what scares me the most.

Asher_Knight said...

Oh, thank you, Caitlin <3 It actually didn't take me so long, because everything was pouring out of me, like I was hemorrhaging feelings, and I couldn't block it off. This review was all feeling, so it was easy to stay away from spoilery stuff. Honestly, writing this was a bit of a blur, given that my eyes were still teary. xD

Asher_Knight said...

Just take it slowly and absorb. You'll definitely feel the emotional impact and love/hate Oliver for it. This book made me feel so much that I couldn't come up with a rating. I couldn't figure out what it meant to me. Maybe in a few weeks I'll be able to change that, or maybe the book is so special it goes beyond even the Special Shelf rating. I'm not certain...

I hope you love it! <333

Asher_Knight said...

Be a little bit scared going in, but don't let that make you wary so that you're closed off. Just absorb and feel and you'll see what I mean. And the ending?!? I can't even go into it without screeching, my voice taking on a broken, high-pitched sound like some maniac, because AFTER ALL OLIVER PUT US THROUGH BETWEEN THESE TWO BOOKS, the ending she delivers is... I CAN'T EVEN EXPLAIN.

And thanks, Liz! <33

Asher_Knight said...

I totally understand the language you're speaking right now, Brodie. The ending is still bouncing around the recesses of my muddled mind. I'm still in shock; my heart is all sorts of sads and joy and shock, and I just don't know what to feel... I was ridiculously happy for Lena, but when the ending happened I just... froze up, my mouth dropping open. Because even though I suspected where the book would end up, I didn't want to believe it... A YEAR IS TOO LONG. I felt so... lost when I finished this, and maybe a year isn't too long. Maybe that's just the perfect recovery time.. I'm not making much sense! It's deliria, dammit, for this series!!!

Thanks <333 Like I said to Cait, it was all feeling. Tears and shock and burning emotion was surging inside of me and poured out of my fingertips, seeping in every key as I typed up what I was feeling. I'm even more terrified of Requiem. I can't even begin to imagine what she's going to do to us. How... I just don't know. We are in the same boat.

YearningtoRead said...

A forewarning: No amount of reviews will equate to proper preparation for the sheer emotion, as bloody and gaping as any severe wound, and as equally striking, living inPandemonium."  Ummm YESYESYESYES!!!  I swear this book crushed my very being into a pile of goo and then left it there.  It's terrifying and beautiful and utterly life-changing.  Great review!!!!! :D

Asher_Knight said...

I couldn't even figure out what I was feeling. My body felt drained and numb at the same time. It was awful and wonderful and, like you said, terrifying. It completely impacted me and my heart tripped and went splat. I'm so scared of what Oliver will do to us in the third book. Like seriously, quaking with it. On the inside, of course. ;)

kathrynejohnson said...

Your review actually made me pick up Delirium. I'll probably start it next week. This series looks fantastic!  

Asher_Knight said...

Oh *claps* THAT'S WONDERFUL. Delirium is Pandemonium's shy, sweet, though intense, older brother :) 

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