Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: March 01, 2012
Lauren Oliver has an undeniable way with words. As seen in Delirium and Before I Fall, she manages to so effortlessly weave together a beautiful, sometimes heart-wrenching tale that draws the deepest of emotions from the reader. Pandemonium is no different. Once again, Oliver holds nothing back as she delivers blow after emotional blow with her clever, shocking and moving ideas. We are reunited with Lena, our admirable heroine, to watch her battle through the events that take place after the devastating ending of Delirium, and find, yet again, Lauren Oliver has more surprises up her sleeve.
I have to say, I’m impressed. Not so much happy, but definitely impressed. It takes guts to twist a story as much as Oliver has done and pull it off so well. She took a big risk with this book by playing on the reader’s emotions, in a way that can so easily lead to frustration and anger. After the excruciating cliffhanger of Delirium, all I wanted from this book was some answers. Unfortunately for me, the answer I wanted the most was not revealed until the final page. Up until then, however, I was both in awe of the book and deeply resenting it.
My feelings are as conflicted as they could be. Delirium left such a profound impact on me and I blame Oliver for my unreasonable attachment to the characters - or one character in particular: Alex. It’s for this reason that I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, actually enjoy this book. To read a story that was so completely different to what I had wanted to happen was as painful as it could be. I’m afraid to say, I struggled to continue at times – not because it was terribly written or even lacking an engaging plot, but purely for the reason I felt cheated. To have waited so long for this book and then to find out, on the final page, that I am in for several more months of painful waiting is not at all what I wanted from one of my favourite authors.
Personal preferences aside, I relished the skill behind this book. How could I not, when it deserved attention and recognition? Yes, I may not have been particularly pleased with what happened (or more what didn’t happen), but I won’t hold that against the ingenuity and talent of the author. There’s no doubt about it, Lauren Oliver is an incredibly gifted writer and she shows that in Pandemonium in a way that is perhaps more evident than in Delirium. Lena’s journey is split into chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’. While we are following her in her new position in the resistance, we are also transported back to the time straight after Lena crossed the border. Little by little, the past catches up with the present, and little by little, the secrets are revealed. Oliver handles the transition between each chapter with admirable ease and so expertly manipulates the story to fit around this ingenious approach.
I can’t deny that the writing was beautiful. It always is in a Lauren Oliver book, but I noticed it a lot more in Pandemonium due to my need to focus on something. The pacing is perfect; both gentle and careful to help craft the melancholy tone that hangs over this story. While we are given the poignant scenes to make us feel tearful, Pandemonium also delivers its fair share of heart-stopping action. I assume, if you did not have the same problems I did, being enthralled by the plot from start to finish is likely. The biggest revelation, the biggest twist, is delivered with a punch through a single word on the final page - the very last word of the book.
Once the final page had been turned, Pandemonium left me with a strange mix of hollowness and euphoria. The ending, as shocking and almost cruel as it was, left me feeling hopeful for the next book, Requiem. Until then, however, the process of counting down the days will not be a fun one, that’s for sure.